Currently reading: Williams reveals electric vehicle skateboard chassis
New chassis offers exceptional functionality and scalability for makers of electric cars

A new composite chassis concept, aimed at showing car makers an efficient way of changing from petrol to electric cars, is being launched today at the Cenex LCV show by Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE). 

The new concept, dubbed FW-EVX, shows how car makers can create all-new plug-in hybrid or full-electric models without going through the comparatively inefficient stage of building electrified versions of conventional cars. FW-EVX is a highly optimised all-electric rolling chassis
—in effect, a scalable and self-supporting ‘skateboard’. It uses a rigid and compact composite structure to carry electric motors (up to four),
 to mount traction batteries
 in a low and safe location, 
to manage airflows for both component cooling and aerodynamic efficiency and to provide mountings for new, Williams-designed carbonfibre suspension parts. 

Williams 1203

Other so-called skateboards have been proposed in the past, but none capable of handling so many competing car functions at once, or with such scalable versatility built in. The concept could work, Williams engineers claim, for both composite and aluminium construction. 

According to Craig Wilson, WAE’s managing director, the FW-EVX concept can make an EV lighter, safer and greener than a conventional adapted design. Its space efficiency allows it to carry a bigger battery, for a longer range and better performance. 

Williams 1218

The whole system, subject to Williams patents, has been configured for maximum adaptability, allowing clients to fit it with a wide range of ‘top hat’ bodystyles. “We believe there’s a business with high potential here,” said Wilson. 

In effect, FW-EVX consists of a rigid central platform with latest-spec crash structures mounted front and rear. It carries a long, wide but thin under-floor battery box in its centre. The box is enclosed by a pair of hollow, load-bearing composite members, forming sills at the edges. They collect air at the front of the car, direct it through alloy radiators mounted inside, and exhaust it rearwards in a way that can create downforce via an aerodynamic diffuser. 

Two tech highlights in more detail 

Flat-pack battery module:

Williams 1212

Back to top

Williams’ new concept chassis also showcases a rigid composite battery pack design, made by a process it calls ‘223’ because it starts in two dimensions as a sheet of material but eventually forms a skeletal, compact but extra-strong 3D component. FW-EVX’s central battery module — its outer carrier etched into components
 as a sheet, then folded and bonded into its final form — is strong enough to contribute to the rigidity of the total system and to protect it very effectively in a crash. Formed in carbonfibre, it’s also extremely light. 

Recycled suspension parts:

Williams 1219

Another FW-EVX refinement is a Williams-developed process to make light, strong suspension wishbones from recycled carbonfibre. The pressed parts can use 80% recycled material and weigh roughly 40% as much as conventional forged- alloy wishbones. They can also carry embedded wireless sensors, a facility increasingly important in racing. Williams Advanced Engineering boss Craig Wilson said components could be made in batches to suit mass production and “on the same cost level” as aluminium forgings. 

Related stories: 

Williams to head Advanced Propulsion Centre

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
kellyebrien 2 February 2022

Hi, steve Cropley Great post buddy. I hope you will continue to write more helpful posts like this one for us in the future. Learned quite a bit. 

Clarkey 6 September 2017

Like a Tesla

There is one pretty much like this in just about every Tesla showroom and has been for years.

fleabane 6 September 2017

I'll have mine as a 2+2 (need space for the dog)

More integrated and almost certainly a lot stiffer and lighter than the MEB platform (TEB platform?), so probably aiming a little higher up the food chain than as a replacement for the Golf and its clones.