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Electric Vehicles and the Future of the Automotive Industry

Changing Landscape of the Automotive Industry

Although the last 50 years have seen advances in the automotive industry, any new technologies and manufacturing changes have occurred relatively slowly across similar platforms, undertaken by similar companies. However, this looks set to change with electric vehicle development increasing in pace, not just for passenger cars but across the whole transport industry.

As electrification becomes mainstream, there are a number of ground-breaking changes all happening at once. These changes are not just technological, as electric vehicles move to replace internal combustion engines, but also impact ownership models as car ownership becomes less aspirational and fully autonomous vehicles move closer to becoming a reality. Indeed, ARM estimate that driverless cars will replace current vehicles by 2027.

These changes will create a range of challenges, including light-weighting and safety issues, even as electric vehicles look set to offer a number of benefits, not least environmentally.

TWI Business Development Consultant, Nick Edge discusses changes to the automotive market (VIDEO)


The widespread adoption of electric vehicles is not only providing challenges for existing automakers, but is also creating lanes for new companies to enter into the market. Tesla, for example, have positioned themselves strongly in the electric vehicle market as an early adopter of TWI’s friction stir welding technology.

These changes in the automotive sector mean that new parts and materials are in demand, not just when it comes to batteries to power the next generation of vehicles, but right across vehicle manufacture.

There are also issues of scale to consider. For example, the UK currently makes around 2 million engines per year, but to replace these with batteries would require 20 billion welds just to join the battery cells.

However, TWI can help address many of the challenges faced by auto manufacturers through the application of existing and new technologies.

How TWI can Help

TWI’s expertise can offer manufacturers with support in joining challenging materials together, including dissimilar parts. We can also work on process improvement and recommendations to optimise design and achieve high productivity and enhanced light-weighting techniques.

Our work can help reduce costs and meet the challenges of welding and joining for electrification, such as welding battery units together and sealing the battery tray help mitigate the dangers associated with the batteries catching fire.

The challenges relating to the batteries are just one area where TWI can assist automakers. For example, our knowledge of coatings can be used to keep on-board cameras clean and we can help with the use and joining of composite structures for vehicle bodies. Car manufacturers are keen to make motors as small as possible yet also able to deliver as much power as possible while using as little energy as they can. To achieve these goals, TWI can assist with material selection and joining techniques to optimise the entire drivetrain.

Further to this, newly developed technologies look set to offer further improvements and advances.

One such technology that could have game-changing applications for the auto industry comes from TWI’s Surflow project, which allows for data to be transferred through composite structures, thereby eliminating the need for complex, costly and heavy wiring systems. This could be further enhanced with 5G technology, including advances in vehicle to vehicle (VtV) and vehicle to everything (VtE) communications. 

Another upcoming technology is TWI’s work in friction stir tunnelling, a new process that will allow for cooling channels in motors and battery trays.

Working to Make EV a Reality

TWI are already working with a number of companies, including original equipment manufacturers and SMEs, to optimise techniques and achieve productivity targets. We are also engaged in work with organisations right across the automotive sector, including the Advanced Propulsion Centre, Warwick Manufacturing Group and the Faraday Institute, to promote these world-leading technologies. TWI will also be exhibiting at the Electric and Hybrid, Battery Show in Stuttgart on 7-9 May.

You can find out more about TWI’s work within the automotive industry here.

Avatar Nick Edge Business Development Consultant

Nick Edge had been working with TWI for over 30 years before joining the company in 2018 as a Business Development Consultant focusing on joining and the electric vehicle (EV) industry.

Nick has worked in many industries, but particularly the automotive industry in the UK, USA and around the world. He helped OEMs and tier 1 suppliers to develop new parts using friction welding and other joining techniques as well as working on the testing of EV power trains.

His primary focus is now on the changing materials and joining techniques needed for the revolution that is happening in the automotive market.