Williams Advanced Engineering, the tech division of the Williams Formula 1 team, had the battery supply contract for the Formula E, but its electric vehicle battery effort took a hit when McLaren won the new contract last year.
It’s apparently far from dead since we now learn that they got £100 million ($125 million USD) to build a battery factory in the UK.
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They won the UK’s APC (Advanced Propulsion Centre) Competition to create a wide partnership to bring more significant battery production for electric vehicles in the country.
Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering, commented:
“We’re delighted to have won the APC6 competition and associated funding along with our consortium partners whom we are looking forward to working with to deliver this exciting project. We truly believe we can make a difference to the UK’s manufacturing capabilities and offer a significant contribution to the future of the automotive industry and energy storage in general. Williams has always endeavoured to work collaboratively with our customers to meet their sustainability challenges and find energy efficient solutions. This project will build on the extensive battery experience and know-how we have accumulated over the past ten years and is a big step in the right direction to further the UK’s battery manufacturing capabilities, supporting future electric vehicle requirements.”
Interestingly, they describe the project as “bridging the gap between low volume prototype build and electric vehicle production.”
A good example is the first project that the new manufacturing effort will undertake: building the battery packs for Aston Martin’s new all-electric RapidE.
The British automaker announced in 2015 that it plans to bring its first all-electric vehicle to market in 2018 and now they confirmed that Williams Advanced Engineering will be their battery supplier and the vehicle will serve as the ‘halo’ project for this battery manufacturing facility.
Jon Beasley, Director of Technology and Projects at APC, said about the announcement this week:
“Williams Advanced Engineering Ltd and supporting partners have won an APC6 Competition to develop bespoke, high performance and cost-competitive batteries for low to medium volume applications. This project will focus on flexible manufacturing, design for manufacture, UK supply-chain development, recycling and reuse and save over one million tonnes of CO2. Through a partnership of companies, the project will further develop and make available battery systems in order to overcome significant supply chain gaps in the UK and be able to offer support to UK companies researching and developing cell chemistry, and opportunity for acceleration to commercialisation.”
While it’s clearly a step toward commercialization, there’s no word on if the RapidE is still planned to enter production next year.