Charging ahead: the UK IP set to dominate the EV battery repair market

Posted on 28 Jun 2023 by The Manufacturer

Autocraft EV Solutions has pioneered how to repair and remanufacture EV batteries at scale, safely and sustainably. Doing so unlocks enormous opportunities for the company while reinforcing the UK’s international standing for engineering innovation. Jonny Williamson reports.

There are now more than one million cars on UK roads that come with a plug (fully electric or plug-in hybrid). More than 265,000 EV battery electric cars were registered in 2022 alone, up 40% from the previous year. All signs point to this rapid growth being sustained if not exceeded over the coming decade.

Several factors are driving the surging popularity of electric vehicles. Chief among them is that EVs produce no harmful emissions at the tailpipe and are therefore seen as crucial to achieving net zero ambitions. Yet, the mining and manufacturing processes involved in battery production do emit CO2, alongside other environmental impacts.

Typically, the manufacture of an EV produces nearly double the amount of carbon emissions as an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. Depending on the EV in question, it will take between 20,000 and 55,000 miles for it to ‘break-even’ on CO2 emissions. If an EV battery fails or is believed to have failed prematurely, then the carbon benefits of EVs are eroded.

It is therefore vitally important to maximise the life of a battery. Achieving this fully relies on being able to quickly, safely and robustly test and repair them. A lack of such capabilities has seen industry and governments prioritise recycling, forgoing the substantial environmental and economic opportunities provided by repair and remanufacturing. Until now.

Problem into opportunity

EV batteries are the same as those in your smartphone and other electronic devices in that their capacity diminishes over time. Where they differ, however, is that they have multiple modules, making it possible to replace defective modules where there is an issue. For an EV, this degradation normally happens after 600 charge/ discharge cycles or about 150,000 miles, but a fault can cause it to happen much sooner. As the number of EVs on our roads continues to rise, it only takes a very small percentage failure rate of batteries to create huge demand for EV battery repair.

Mike Morgan
“Our understanding of battery technology is always evolving,” Mike Morgan, Co-Owner & Executive Director, Autocraft EV Solutions

Once a battery is unable to fulfil its initial EV application, it can still perform a less demanding secondary application. The most common is stationary power storage for industrial or residential renewable energy.

The other preferred end-of-life option is recycling (incinerating) the battery to recover the precious materials contained within, such as lithium, cobalt and nickel graphite. While repurposing and recycling have an important role to play, they both ignore the intrinsic value that remains in most batteries. A battery, much like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest part.

Modules inside an EV battery age differently and only a certain amount will be unusable at the end of a battery’s life. Identifying and replacing damaged or underperforming modules means a battery can be returned to its original performance limits. What’s more, this remanufacturing process can be done multiple times over.

In so doing, it ensures repairable batteries aren’t being prematurely sent for repurposing and recycling and provides greater confidence to consumers, especially concerning used electric cars. Although recycling is good, remanufacturing is more than 50% better for the environment compared to pure recycling across water, electricity, CO2 and waste to landfill. Sounds fantastic, but remanufacturing is routinely disregarded due to a widespread belief that it can’t be done at scale, safely and sustainably.

What Autocraft EV Solutions, part of Autocraft Solutions Group, has achieved behind the most unassuming of facades proves otherwise. The Grantham-headquartered company now sits at the centre of a multi-billion pound market for testing, repairing, remanufacturing and repurposing EV batteries.

Autocraft Solutions Group

Autocraft has been a trusted powertrain manufacturing partner to OEMs since the 1970s and as far back as 2006, the company saw the requirement for EV battery remanufacture and repair.

That same year, Autocraft started to produce small volume and prototype battery packs for several niche vehicles. The packs were very low-tech and low-power compared with modern packs, but the same base chemistries and use of cylindrical cells gave Autocraft a ten year head-start on other companies and put it on the road to where it is today.

The arrival of Mike Hague-Morgan has been equally important to that journey. Known as something of a problem solver for automotive tier 1 companies, in 2008 Mike was parachuted in to turn the loss-making company into profit. Seeing the potential of the company, Mike led an MBO in 2010 and the company was reborn.

Since 2020, Autocraft has repaired/remanufactured more than 2,000 EV battery packs for multiple well-known automotive brands

Under the direction of Mike and his senior leadership team, the vertically integrated Autocraft Solutions Group was formed following the purchase of Vertex Engineering Solutions (Birmingham) in 2015 and Autocraft Machining Solutions (Wellingborough) in 2018. Since the MBO, the company has grown from £7m to £70m turnover, and from sub-100 to more than 460 employees.

Autocraft has also adopted at least one major new technology every year since 2013, including becoming paperless and introducing its own unique augmented reality assembly systems and cloud-based data analysis. It has also continued to invest heavily in its EV capability, becoming one of the only companies in the world that can both test and repair and remanufacture EV battery packs.


REVIVE is Autocraft’s unique and patented process of identifying the state-of-health (SOH) of EV batteries and the subsequent repair and remanufacture of degraded modules. The beauty of REVIVE lies in its flexible yet scalable structure:

  • REVIVE Triage is a fleet of highly-mobile on-the-road vans for fast response, non-invasive testing to identify electrical faults and failed modules down to the cell level. Many electrical faults can be fixed at the roadside, however, where this is not possible, batteries with module or cell faults are transported to an Autocraft EV Battery Service Centre for full repair. REVIVE Triage is also able to make damaged (red) packs safe for onward transport.
  • REVIVE Workshops are fixed Autocraft EV Battery Service Centres for full triage, repair and remanufacture. These facilities can be strategically located on a customer’s site or near to any location with a high concentration of EVs to maximise battery repair throughput so are ideal for those requiring volume processing.
  • REVIVE Mobile takes a REVIVE Workshop and condenses it into a 30ft expandable container that can be deployed anywhere from an HGV trailer. These Mobile centres enable Autocraft to provide global coverage to safely test and discharge a specific batch of batteries before dismantling for recycling, allowing Autocraft to establish an initial presence in a new location as it expands.

“The weight and legislation associated with shipping batteries to the UK compared to engines means the business model for batteries is different,” explained Mike. “You need to be much closer to the market or end-user and that’s where REVIVE Mobile comes in.”

Autocraft currently has one REVIVE Mobile facility, but scalability was front of mind from the very beginning. Everything within the container has been manufactured in-house, from the bespoke control cabinet and mains invertor to the sophisticated testing rig and tool board. A bill of material was also drawn up during its construction detailing everything down to the fixtures used and the length of wires in each loom.

“We knew this was going to be one of many, so we aimed to make it as quick and easy to replicate as possible,” Mike added. “A team of three to four people, using the work instructions and modular subassemblies made at our other facilities or by supply partners, can build one of these in four weeks.”

4IR to deliver 5R

Speed is equally crucial to scaling Autocraft’s offering, especially when it comes to testing. Most of Autocraft’s competitors conduct fairly rudimentary static testing energy for capacity loss and resistance rise (energy in – minus energy out = capacity loss).

As packs stop charging when a single cell reaches its upper limit, static testing only tells you the state of charge of the worst-performing cells or module. Accepted methods for static testing also take around 24 hours for each test, too long for a production environment.

Autocraft has developed a unique dynamic test that draws on its extensive experience working with battery packs to quickly identify outlier cells requiring further investigation. This can be done thanks to a digital twin for each battery pack, built up of years of data collection and analysis.

“Our testing equipment pinpoints the root cause of failure so we can accurately address any faults and prevent the issue from spreading. This also helps to maximise the life of the battery or at the very least, gauge when a pack is no longer suitable for automotive use. To the best of our knowledge, no other company in the world can do this,” Mike commented.

Technology also underpins Autocraft’s health and safety processes, including a LIDAR system that stops the process if technicians enter a red zone and a camera-based system to monitor whether the correct PPE is being worn (all electrical systems are shut down until this is the case). Battery fires are of particular concern. Here, once again, Autocraft is leading the way. Its patented battery ejection and suppression system quickly identifies, ejects, covers, and secures any pack experiencing a thermal event.

The system has been championed by both fire authorities and manufacturers, with several customers adopting the system and there are calls for it to become the de facto standard. Safety and testing systems are all linked to Autocraft’s exclusive Augmented Reality Interactive Assembly (ARIA) system.

Through overhead projection and voice commands, ARIA fully guides technicians throughout the EV battery repair and remanufacture process. Camera recognition continuously checks parts are removed, stored, and fitted correctly.

EV batteries are wired in series, like Christmas lights, so when one cell or module fails it brings down the performance of the whole pack

Green lights clearly indicate the parts and tools to be taken next in the sequence and Wi-Fi enabled tooling communicates with ARIA to guarantee every fixing is torque controlled and recorded, eliminating operator error. “ARIA is a new but proven technology that gives Autocraft a significant competitive advantage,” said Mike. “It’s just one example of how modern industrial technologies are helping us to optimise the delivery of our 5R solution – recovery, repair, remanufacture, reuse, and recycle.”

Although these processes and systems have all been developed in-house, Mike readily admits that Autocraft couldn’t have achieved what it has without the support and funding from strategic partners. These include the Advanced Propulsion Centre, Coventry University, Innovate UK, KTN, Made Smarter, Warwick Manufacturing Group, and numerous customers.

Uniquely placed

The rapid growth of the EV market is translating to equally rapid growth for Autocraft. The company’s first overseas expansion, an EV battery repair facility in the Netherlands, is currently being developed. Similar centres are expected to be announced for North America and Asia in the next 24 months.

“Remanufacturing has become a lot more commercially desirable for several reasons, including the ever-rising cost of commodities driving focus away from virgin materials, and the waiting lists for new cars resulting in cars being kept on the road for longer,” concluded Mike. “We see our solution being instrumental in helping consumers adopt EVs faster because it will give them reassurance of the future cost of ownership.

We believe it will revolutionise both EV and hybrid ownership by giving drivers the confidence that failures of their battery packs when out of warranty, will no longer lead to the premature writing off of an otherwise perfectly good vehicle. “What’s more, some of our customers had hundreds of broken or surplus EV batteries in warehouses and were facing eye-watering costs of disposal. We stepped in and changed them from being a liability to a massive profit opportunity.”

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