GKN Automotive co-develops UK’s most powerful production electric vehicle (EV) powertrain for Ariel HIPERCAR

GKN Automotive, a global leader in drive systems, has helped develop a 1,180bhp electric powertrain for the Ariel HIPERCAR, a new high-performance electric vehicle (EV).

The 880kW Ariel HIPERCAR, which looks like something a superhero would drive, has 1800Nm of torque and can accelerate from 0-60mph (0-97kph) in just 2.09 seconds. It can hit 0-100mph (0-161kph) in a mere 4.4 seconds. 

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The HIPERCAR will be available as a two-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. The car is based around a lightweight aluminium, bonded chassis structure with aluminium front and rear subframes and full carbon fibre body.

It’s powered by a Cosworth 800-Volt, 62kWh lithium-ion, cooled and heated battery pack. The range, without range extender, is 150 miles (241km) on WLTP cycle. The battery can be charged at home or via a conventional charging station if required.

Testing of the HIPERCAR’s electric drive units (EDUs) was conducted at GKN Automotive’s Abingdon Innovation Centre on a bespoke test rig. The rig is capable of fully replicating extreme on-car demands and dynamics, including simulated laps of a racetrack.

The world-leading test facility was developed with support and funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). This is a non-profit organisation that facilitates funding to UK-based research and development projects developing low-carbon emission powertrain technologies.

The extreme dynamic performance of the Ariel HIPERCAR required fresh thinking from GKN Automotive, a drive systems supplier with expertise in both ePowertrain and Driveline products, to develop a test facility capable of comfortably retaining control over the drive motors under road and racing simulations.

The ability to accurately and thoroughly test advanced powertrains with extreme power outputs, like the Ariel HIPERCAR, enables GKN Automotive engineers to meet the most exact standards and ensure maximum efficiency. 

This results in enhanced performance and sustainability for the most powerful electric vehicles on the road and racetrack. This benefits GKN Automotive’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers worldwide and supports its purpose to drive a cleaner, more sustainable world.

Sean Worrall, GKN Automotive senior product manager, said: “With the support of the APC, the HIPERCAR consortium has been able to create an amazing high performance EV sports car. 

“We’ve used the knowledge gained in developing the test rig and controlling such high performance to test high power machines for high performance electric SUVs, exporting this knowledge across the world to other GKN Automotive sites.”

Simon Saunders, Ariel founder and director, said: “The testing and development work undertaken by GKN Automotive for Ariel on the HIPERCAR’s electric powertrain has been crucial in proving its suitability, performance and reliability for the final production model. 

“GKN Automotive’s experience and expertise combined with their aptitude for innovation is what got the bespoke test rig designed and built – that resource has been incredibly valuable during this project.”

Philippa Oldham, Advanced Propulsion Centre stakeholder engagement director, said: “The unveiling of the HIPERCAR is a major milestone for a project that is several years in the making. 

“The process of developing late-stage technologies is fraught with complexity, which the HIPERCAR project has managed to navigate with support from APC. 

“The value of this project goes much deeper than the cutting-edge vehicle on display; government investment provides emerging cleantech innovators with a platform for success, at a time when the UK is working to proactively secure its position as a key player in the electric vehicle revolution. 

“The fact that the businesses involved in this project have gone on to achieve so much is testament to its success in creating highly skilled jobs and returns for the economy.”

The HIPERCAR made its show debut on the UK Government Pavilion at this year’s Cenex-LCV, where it was recognised as a major success story for innovation in the UK automotive industry.

Earlier this year, GKN Automotive announced it had reached the significant milestone with more than two million electrified vehicles using its eDrive technology on the road globally. This was is a key step for the company in helping to decarbonising the automotive industry and to drive a cleaner, more sustainable world.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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