Updates announced for major new vehicle battery manufacturer

What’s been described as the UK’s “largest independent vehicle battery manufacturer” will reportedly open in early 2019 in Coventry, creating around 90 new jobs, with Aston Martin as its first customer.

The multi-million-pound, high-tech facility will be operated by a new joint venture – Hyperbat, which combines the innovation, manufacturing and logistics strengths of Williams Advanced Engineering and Unipart Manufacturing Group.

The site will produce batteries for future hybrid and electric vehicles and could represent a significant step forward in the UK’s contribution to reducing carbon emissions.

According to Business Secretary Greg Clark: “Hybrid and electric vehicles will play a key part in Britain’s cleaner and greener future and this new high-tech facility – inspired by a government funded Advanced Propulsion Centre project – will develop new vehicle battery technologies and create high-skilled jobs in Coventry.”

Alongside providing a secure future supply chain for UK-based car-makers as their vehicles transition to electric power, there is also the potential to provide similar solutions to developing future marine and aircraft projects.

Unipart will be converting its century-old building on Beresford Avenue, Coventry, which most recently produced vehicle exhausts, to house Hyperbat’s production line.

Concept version of electronic Aston Martin RapidE.
Concept version of the Aston Martin RapidE.

Managing director of Unipart Manufacturing Group, and member of The Manufacturer Top 100, Carol Burke noted that the site was were the British automotive industry produced some of its first petrol vehicle, making it fitting that it should now provide clean, sustainable electric batteries.

Following construction, Hyperbat is expected to begin production in early 2019 on batteries for the Aston Martin Rapide E, which will be a limited production run.

The joint venture was reportedly inspired by H1PERBAT – an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC)-funded, Williams Advanced Engineering-led consortium of organisations, set up in 2017, which also includes Unipart, Coventry University, Aston Martin and others.

It was established to build a high-performance, low-volume, flexible battery capability in the UK. The joint venture will also draw on work undertaken by H1PERBAT, which also looked at second life options for car batteries, enabling a long-term sustainable future for the products in both the vehicles and beyond.

Growth of electric vehicles

According to the SMMT, there are approximately 34 million cars on the roads in the UK today.

As the country moves towards an all-electric future transport system by a target date of 2040 – with similar targets in other countries – this is a major market opportunity for both for the domestic market and for exports.

Around 1.7 million cars are made in the UK each year and 1.3 million more are exported, with approximately 2.7 million engines made in the UK annually.

In the future, as these cars become electric vehicles due to social demand and legislation, this creates significant market demand.

As such, almost every automotive manufacturer now has an electrification strategy, with serious interest shown by new entrants to the market such as Dyson, Google and Apple.