LONDON : UK startup Helixx said on Monday it will use Siemens’ open digital platform to help design a highly-automated ‘factory in a box’ that can be built anywhere to assemble smaller, low-cost electric vehicles (EVs), initially for large Asian cities.
While the ‘factory in a box’ concept has been embraced by the pharmaceutical sector spurred by supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, this would be a first for the auto industry.
The ‘digital twin’ technology provided by the Siemens Xcelerator will help Helixx design the factory and plan supply chain requirements, Helixx and Siemens said.
Helixx CEO Steve Pegg told Reuters that the company will create a “white label” licensed factory model for existing carmakers or new entrants to build EVs and use their own branding.
Some EV startups have turned to contract manufacturers, as Fisker has done with Magna and Foxconn, but the concept of providing a factory and “white label” EV designs for clients is new.
“We have reimagined the way the vehicles go together so you can get a factory producing vehicles anywhere in the world, just like a McDonald’s franchise,” Pegg said.
Helixx said the first four EV models that these factories will be able to produce will consist of a delivery van, a pickup truck, a “Tuk” – or a four-wheeled version of a tuk-tuk, a motorised rickshaw – and a passenger van, primarily for densely-populated Asian cities.
The startup will produce its first 200 prototypes in the United Kingdom by 2024 and aims to make 10,000 EVs annually by 2025 at pilot facilities in Britain and Singapore, Helixx said.
So far Helixx has raised about 1 million pounds ($1.3 million) and Pegg said building its prototype fleet will require around 3 million pounds.
($1 = 0.7859 pounds)
(Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)