ELECTRIC vehicle maker AVID is hoping to quadruple its manufacturing capacity in the next year as it capitalises on extra demand for vehicles such as its four-wheel-drive vehicle eBear.
The Cramlington firm currently has two sites in Admiral Business Park, but is looking at its options for a larger site that will allow it to work with larger vehicles such as buses.
Managing director Ryan Maughan said: “We’re looking to set up a bigger factory with increased production and capacity and a bigger development area. We’re doing more development work on larger vehicles such as buses and trucks at the moment, and we’re hoping to have somewhere operational in the next 12 months.”
The firm said it had recorded good sales of its eBear utility vehicle, which was released last August under the name E-Warrior. It had been developing the vehicle since it span out from manufacturer ComeSys two years ago. From a workforce of around 30 last year, it currently employs 40 staff and is on the lookout for extra people in engineering posts as well as sales and marketing.
Maughan said: “We’re doing OK. We’ve had a hard year, but a lot of things such as eBear have gone very well for the business.
“Other than the eBear, our micro-hybrid system is popular as it can be retrofitted onto vehicles like buses. We’ve just set up a resource sales office in Southern Europe to develop our business with bus operators in that territory.
“I can say things in the industry are generally improving. Everyone that tries an electric vehicle seems to love them. For niche products like ours, it’s a matter of getting the word out to people. With mainstream vehicles there’s still a need for some improvement on battery cost, but in general the industry is making great strides.”
AVID is also working to develop a new design of electric vehicle power drive train as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Newcastle University’s School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering. It is presently looking for a high-calibre graduate to pool the existing technologies being developed at AVID and the university, and turn them into a viable product which can reduce the cost of the component.
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships are a collaborative initiative between a company, a university and a graduate, funded by the Technology Strategy Board. The academic partner on the AVID KTP project is Dr Volker Pickert, the lead academic for electric cars at Newcastle University.
He said: “The development of a power pack can be compared with a micro chip.
“Before the first micro-chip was available all of the electronics components were discrete and populated across a large PCB board. Today all functions are embedded in one chip which is not larger than one square centimetre. We will see a similar development for electric vehicles and the power pack is the first milestone towards this goal.”