Electric vehicle manufacturer Arrival has started to increase production at its new ‘microfactory’ in Oxfordshire. While Tesla has attracted many of the headlines about electric vehicles in recent years, Arrival’s intention to sell its models at prices matching regular petrol or diesel-powered vehicles. One of the reasons it has been able to do this is due to its use of microfactories.
But what are they and how do they benefit electric vehicle production?
A microfactory is a small-to-medium scale, highly automated, and technologically advanced manufacturing setup, capable of providing a wide range of process capabilities. With advancements in manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing, along with other enabling technologies, microfactories found their use in commercial production.
The concept of microfactories has picked up real steam in the last five years, with a number of major brands establishing their own in various industries. Several new innovative start-ups have embraced this concept challenging the traditional way of manufacturing.
Electric vehicles have been around, as a concept, since the mid-19th century. It’s only within the last couple of decades, though, where the industry as a whole has begun to view electric vehicles as something more than a threat. Vehicle manufacturers are embracing electric more than ever before with countries across the world pledging their support to environmental improvements within the sector.
While the shift to electric mobility is already well on its way with passenger cars, 23 per cent of emissions from the transportation sector can be attributed to medium and heavy-duty trucks, highlighting the urgency behind Arrival’s push to begin work on their electric commercial vehicles. To have a significant impact on emissions and the automotive market, commercial vehicles need to move to electric, not just retail.
Rather than building a factory from scratch, by using existing premises production can begin much quicker, requiring less capital, as well as lowering operating expenses. Microfactories require less energy, less material, and labour due to the high-tech automated process. Each production site serves a city and its community – sourcing from the local area and developing custom vehicles for the particular region they are based in. By localising the supply chain, another benefit is the reduction it has on the environment and manufacturing costs. They employ a new cell-based assembly process as opposed to a traditional automotive production line, using in-house developed components, materials, and software.
Here at Ogle, we’ve been huge supporters of electric vehicles for decades. In fact, back in 1975, we played a part in producing one of the first electric vehicles, the Lucas Electric Taxi; a compact front-wheel-drive chassis with coil-sprung suspension and a 94-inch wheelbase, powered by 18 batteries placed under the body.
Learn more about our work in the automotive sector.