LONDON -- Williams Advanced Engineering and ItalDesign will market an electric-car platform aimed at premium brands looking to sell long-range, high-performance EVs costing more than 100,000 euros ($121,000).
The two companies say the EVX platform will enable companies to bring a car to market in 30 months to 36 months, about 12 months earlier than traditional development timings.
Williams will supply the rolling chassis under the partnership, while ItalDesign will contribute the body design, safety systems, electric architecture, and limited production of up to 500 cars for customers.
Maximum annual production will be about 10,000 units.
The EVX is designed to underpin large SUVs, sedans and GT-style coupes and convertibles with a wheelbase between 2900 mm and 3100 mm, similar in length to that of the Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV at 2990 mm.
The rolling chassis can accommodate batteries ranging from 104 kilowatt-hour to 160 kWh in size, which could offer a possible range of 1,000 km (621 miles).
Both rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive configurations are possible.
The target weight for a sporty sedan on the EVX with a 110-120kWh battery pack is two tons, making it lighter than current luxury EVs. The 100kWh Tesla Model S weights 2.2 tons by comparison.
"We wanted to create a vehicle that performed well not just by adding endless amount of power and energy, but something that was light and dynamic at the same time," Chris McCaw, chief engineer for the EVX platform at Williams, told journalists during an online presentation.
Automakers are increasingly looking at buying in turnkey EV platforms to reduce development costs. Most recently Jaguar Land Rover CEO Thierry Bollore said his company was searching for a platform to underpin new electric Jaguars as part of the brand's reinvention.
The decision to work with a partner "was a matter of scale and speed to go to market," Bollore said.
Suppliers and automakers offering EV platforms include Canadian engineering company Magna International, Chinese battery and EV maker BYD and German engineering company Benteler in cooperation with Bosch.
WAE and ItalDesign believe that their solution is unique in the level of help offered to bring the EV to market.
"The blend of the high-end performance capability for our platform together with ItalDesign's design and engineering capability I think is pretty unique," Dyrr Ardash, senior commercial manager at Williams Advanced Engineering said.
Williams Advanced Engineering is 75 percent owned by equity fund EMK Capital following its sale by the Williams Formula 1 team in 2019. Williams F1 retains a stake and the consultancy remains based at Williams' headquarters in Grove near Oxford, England.
Williams began marketing a lightweight EV platform in 2017, also called EVX, but says it incorporated lessons learned from that project in the replacement.
"That was very much an engineering concept and customers would have had to do a lot of engineering themselves to get to a product," said Paul McNamara, Williams technical director. "Here we have done the heavy lifting earlier between ourselves and ItalDesign."
The platform is flexible enough to allow customers to add their own components and drivetrain, or they can use systems installed by Williams and ItalDesign.
The two companies say the rolling chassis design with its structural battery case made of molded composites gives more freedom in upper-body design, which traditionally has to incorporate more of the crash structure.
"One of the key things that we've been thinking about is the potential opportunity for different OEMs to come with their designs," Ardash said. "Hence the reason why a lot of the structural strength has been put into the lower structure rather than having it specifically, for example, in the A, B and C pillars."
ItalDesign said production at its base just outside of Turin would be limited to 500.
"We don't plan to do big investments to transform ItalDesign into a car manufacturer like in the 80s and 90s. We don't want to fall into that trap," said Giorgio Gamberini, ItalDesign's business development director.
ItalDesign is 100 percent owned by the Volkswagen Group and is overseen by VW Group's Audi premium brand.
Beyond annual production of 10,000 units, the design of Williams' rolling chassis might become less appealing, Ardesh said: "Once you get above 10,000, then scale monocoques start to make more commercial sense because of the offset between the tooling and the volume."