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Watt the heck: Cornish start-up refines off-the-shelf EV architecture for small series sports cars

WEVC remodels its PACES architecture to keep the cottage industry of niche EV producers alive

Published: 02 Jul 2024

A British electric vehicle outfit has updated its high-performance electric sports car platform by making it lighter and... thermal-er.

In news that'll delight fans of laser-cut components, the Watt Electric Vehicle Company’s off-the-shelf EV architecture now uses... laser-cut components and a ‘module-to-chassis’ model to integrate the batteries into the body of the vehicle, rather than having a separate pack.

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Speaking to TopGear.com, CEO Neil Yates said – when considering the platform in the context of small series sports cars (it's already got the 2021 Coupe) – the team's managed to save over 10 per cent in lightweighting by creating an integrated heating/cooling system.

Yates said: “It's not just around the weight, it's actually around optimising the thermal performance of the vehicle and that goes across the powertrain, battery and occupants. So it is the combined package that's altered.”

The platform is an adaptable bonded aluminium chassis that applies to any shape or size of vehicle. Just like a blueprint, and nothing like the unintelligible guides to pre-fabricated furniture from Scandi home decor outfits, those laser-scribed flat pieces fit together more cheaply than complex corner-castings used by large manufacturers.

Better known as PACES (because ‘passenger and commercial Vehicle EV skateboard’ doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue) the architecture can not only be scaled up, it also supports multiple types of drivetrain layout, i.e. FWD, RWD and AWD.

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Other changes to the platform are measures to meet general safety requirements (GSR), by which we mean driver assist features that are now legally required as part of European law. Yates added: “It covers things like driver drowsiness. as well as some of the other elements around things like automated brake intervention.

“Historically, for low volume [producers], there have been some exemptions around type approval requirements. Post-Brexit, UK legislation and European legislation doesn't yet align. So what we've done is developed the electrical architecture to make sure that it's capable, and that any product based on it going forward has the capability to meet those legislative standards.”

By building such a solution, Yates hopes to try and ensure niche car makers don’t get left behind, especially in the wake of Fisker’s (second) demise. “What happened with Fisker, it’s a shame, but it’s not impossible to start a new car company. Absolutely not," said Yates.

“If you are starting from scratch, you have to really understand what you're trying to achieve. If you're looking to start as Fisker did (a global brand), there are massive challenges that require enormous resources financially, technical manufacturing, etc.

“Working in the low volume/medium volume specialist automotive sector, it's a very clear focus on the product you're looking to develop, where you're looking to sell it, who your target customers are, combined with the traditional bits of how you're going to make it, where you're going to make it, what your sales and distribution are.

“Is it different to where it was 30, 40 years ago in terms of entry level requirements and barriers, from a technical perspective? Definitely. That is exactly why we're here.”

In April, WEVC unveiled the Watt eCV1. That was the truck version of PACES. Now, it’s out to sell more of its platform to ambitious smaller players. WEVC currently has four live projects on the go (which it can’t tell us more about right now). But in the next 12 months, Yates says there'll be as many as 10. More as we get it.

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