We’re often asked about the work we do for global carmakers and official new-vehicle importers.
Here’s an ELECTRIFIED case study.
The company in this case study was a newer brand creating an all-new battery electric vehicle (BEV) model to be sold in China and Europe.
Bernie Quinn, Engineering Director and Partner at Premcar: “This was a fascinating and challenging new-car project. We were tasked with developing the model series platform for this all-new battery-electric vehicle. This meant creating and developing the suspension and kinematics, suspension mountings and powertrain mountings, as well as other items.
“Premcar’s role was to get the program up to the stage where running prototypes were built so the product concept could be proved and the program made production-ready.
This ground-up new-car program was a special opportunity for Premcar to apply its 20-plus years of carmaking experience.
Getting the call
“This client wanted to develop and manufacture a globally competitive BEV (battery electric vehicle), one that could compete with the best in the world,” says Bernie. “Their vision was to out-sell one of the leading EV models in specific new-car markets, and to achieve that they assembled some of the best specialist companies in the global carmaking industry.”
New-car development programs are riddled with challenges and barriers. Many of these can be difficult to solve, even for the world’s most experienced automakers. It’s why car brands big and small rely on specialist firms to figure out these issues and create the core elements within the cars they produce and sell.
But not every specialist firm succeeds.
“Our client had begun their program with another new-vehicle engineering specialist. This company created some initial studies but then quickly failed to meet the first necessary targets in what was already a tight gateway-based new-car development program.”
The client’s new EV project almost came to an early stop. This specialist engineering firm’s failure to make the first program gateway was more than unexpected. Anxious to find a solution, the client turned to another trusted automotive industry provider, RLE International.
“That’s when we got the call,” says Bernie. “Within RLE’s global network, Premcar has a strong reputation as the experts in chassis platform design and it opened the door to this EV program.”
Solving problems and creating results
It wasn’t a walk-up start. The unexpected failures of the first engineering provider made this automaker client wary, a concern compounded by their EV program’s now-compressed timeframe.
“For this client, Australia was not ranked alongside Europe or the USA as a leader in automotive product development services. It meant we had to quickly do a good job to convince them of our capabilities.
“From the first day they wanted to understand the full spectrum of what we could do. We had to build that understanding from scratch instead of relying on reputation or the trust of an existing relationship.
“Their confidence in us was boosted when we addressed all of their very probing and very difficult questions; not only in terms of achieving results but with regard to our engineering processes and advanced CAE (computer-aided engineering) tools.
“Their trust in Premcar was sealed when we got to their first program gateway and we delivered where the other supplier wasn’t able to.”
That first success, however, didn’t ease the pressure.
“Not only was the program tightly compressed because the first supplier had used up a lot of time, the COVID-19 pandemic then hit. A significant part of this project occurred during the pandemic’s various lockdowns. Everything had to be done remotely during this time.
“The effects of working at a distance were amplified by the international nature of the team developing this new EV model line. We were working with specialists across various time zones, including China, India, the UK and Germany.”
Everyone adapted, especially Premcar.
“The client was clearly surprised. We were this smaller but long-established company from Australia but we were achieving engineering results for them at least as good, if not better, than the traditional bigger European-based engineering consultancies.”
The first drive
The results kept coming.
“Premcar was responsible for all chassis components, including the sub-frame, suspension control arms, wheels, brakes, mounting systems and isolators.
“A demanding part of this program was getting the suspension to meet the client’s very challenging program targets for ride, handling and efficiency.
“One of the critical ways to achieve them was getting the kinematics right. That is, the way the suspension mechanisms work together. We were able to correctly set up the suspension using our expertise in developing new-car suspension systems over the previous 20-odd years.
This was a significant result. Achieving this level of dynamic performance despite the EV-related packaging, weight and cost considerations was more involved than might first appear.
Getting an electric car to handle with sporty character is relatively straightforward. Achieving this while ensuring the car meets a critical ride comfort target – which was essential to communicate this new model’s specific “brand personality” – was far more challenging. Add to all this the need to simultaneously preserve durability and NVH targets and you need another level of experience altogether.
Sure, a number of car-like EVs have comparatively lower centres of gravity thanks to their heavy batteries and motors sitting deep within their chassis.
But CoG isn’t the secret sauce to imbue an EV with great handling.
Managing the often-competing objectives of a composed, comfortable ride whilst delivering best-in-class steering response and sporty handling is central to reaching specific ride and handling targets.
This is not a simple task.
In the design stage, the Premcar team had to push hard to meet the objective kinematic targets we had set ourselves. We created the targets using a simple high-level brief from the customer – in essence, the vehicle had to ride like a luxury car, and handle like the very best sports sedan.
“When the client drove the first prototype vehicle they quickly discovered we hit their targets. They were visibly impressed.
“The vehicle had the target turning circle radius, the right suspension travel, the correct ride heights and all of the components were correctly packaged. All of the component clearances were met and we hit all of their handling metrics.
“And the car had amazing performance, but that’s another story.”
What’s more, Premcar overcame the program’s delayed start and got it back on schedule.
“The fact that we got through all of the program’s gateways and built the running prototypes, which were fantastic to drive, were huge accomplishments.
“In fact, this single program established Premcar’s reputation in that region of the world. The work we did developing this new-car BEV platform sparked an array of new automaker programs for the Premcar team.
“Developing this BEV also brought us up to date with the latest new-vehicle development technologies and processes for EVs, capabilities we’ve since built upon.
Premcar has since gone on to develop new EV-related solutions for automakers, large and small. Get in touch to see how they can do the same for you.
About Premcar – Premcar Pty Ltd is a leading Australian vehicle engineering business that specialises in the automotive, defence and aerospace industries. For more than 25 years, global car-makers have made Premcar their go-to partner for the complete design, engineering and manufacture of niche-model new cars, full-scale new-vehicle development programs, and electric vehicle (EV) conversions and manufacturing. As the name behind more than 200,000 new cars and 55,000 new-vehicle engines, Premcar’s body of work is extensive and has delivered technical and sales success for major car brands from Europe, the USA, Japan, China and Australia. Visit premcar.au.
Follow Premcar on Instagram – @premcaraustralia
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