The Nissan Leaf's battery technology is now available to other manufacturers, in a move that could open up the UK electric vehicle market.
Nissan has reached a deal with Sunderland firm Hyperdrive Innovation that will allow the Japanese manufacturer's UK-made lithium ion battery technology to be used in Hyperdrive’s own commercial products.
Hyperdrive specialises in battery management systems for automotive and non-automotive electric and hybrid applications, and as a result of the deal with Nissan now has a local supply of cutting edge battery cells that will dramatically cut costs to its customers. Previously, Hyperdrive imported such batteries.
Hyperdrive’s managing director, Stephen Irish, said the deal opened up an opportunity for more niche applications, including performance and autonomous cars, to use electric technology.
He said: “Resurgent UK car manufacturers, for example, would have to spend millions of pounds to develop their own electric vehicle batteries.
“The ability to acquire world-leading technology and engineering support via Hyperdrive instead could give UK car manufacturers a significant head start in the race to deliver commercially successful electric vehicles.”
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Hyperdrive offers bespoke electric solutions developed to particular needs, but will also use the Nissan technology to develop off-the-shelf battery products that could be adopted at a much lower cost by companies such as small-volume vehicle manufacturers.
Irish continued: “Nissan’s battery management system is very focused on its job in the Nissan Leaf so you need to do a lot of tailoring to make it work in other applications, and that’s the bit that we do.
“We’ve come up with a range of standard products where we’ve absorbed cooling, design and engineering costs so the customer is just paying for the product at the end. We can give them something which is really flexible but you can get to market really quickly.”
Irish said Hyperdrive was working with partners on several performance car projects, although he couldn’t yet divulge any details, as well as some autonomous electric car ventures.
“We’ve been talking to some fairly large organisations, and not just in the UK,” he said. “Niche vehicles don’t need to come from a niche manufacturer. There are plenty of smaller volume applications where we can use our background and collective automotive experience to take this tech to all sorts of car manufacturers.”
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Hyperdrive’s first battery packs using the Nissan technology will feature in vehicles such as street sweepers and airport logistics vehicles. The first vehicle using the Nissan-derived product will be unveiled at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle event at Millbrook Proving Ground on 14 September.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s vice president for manufacturing in the UK said: “As part of our Intelligent Mobility strategy, Nissan is committed to exploring new technology-powered solutions for our customers that go way beyond the electric vehicle itself.
“Hyperdrive’s new product will give customers and business owners the flexibility and power to control how and when they use energy and we are delighted to be sharing our battery technology and expertise to power this solution.”