In an innovative stride, UK-based start-up Helixx announced on Monday its plan to use Siemens’ open digital platform. The aim? To create a unique, highly automated ‘factory in a box’ that can be assembled anywhere to produce smaller, low-cost electric vehicles (EVs). These EVs are primarily targeted towards large Asian cities.
‘Factory in a Box’: An Industry First
The ‘factory in a box’ concept has already won favour in the pharmaceutical sector, which leveraged it to overcome supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the auto industry is gearing up for its first adoption of the method, led by Helixx and Siemens.
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Using Siemens Xcelerator’s ‘digital twin’ technology, Helixx will design the factory and map out supply chain necessities. The collaboration between these two firms marks a new era of automobile manufacturing.
A White-Label Solution for EV Production
Helixx CEO, Steve Pegg, revealed to Reuters that the company has plans to introduce a “white label” licensed factory model. It will provide a platform for both existing carmakers and new entrants to build EVs under their own brands.
While a few EV start-ups have opted for contract manufacturers, akin to Fisker’s alliance with Magna and Foxconn, the concept of offering a factory and “white label” EV designs to clients stands as a fresh proposition in the market.
Pegg drew a parallel to the global fast-food giant, stating, “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.”
Four Models for a Diverse Market
Helixx announced that its novel factory model would initially roll out four EV models: a delivery van, a pickup truck, a “Tuk” (a four-wheeled adaptation of a motorised rickshaw), and a passenger van. These models cater predominantly to the needs of bustling Asian cities.
Helixx plans to manufacture its first 200 prototypes in the UK by 2024. By 2025, the start-up aims to produce 10,000 EVs annually at pilot facilities in Britain and Singapore.
To date, Helixx has secured around £1 million ($1.3 million [approx. £980,000]) in funding. Pegg estimates that constructing its prototype fleet will necessitate an additional investment of about £3 million ($3.9 million [approx. £2.94 million]). This start-up’s ambitious endeavour holds the potential to revolutionise the EV market, making sustainable transport more accessible on a global scale.