New Company Promises To Speed Up Mini-EV Manufacturing

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EVs are great, but one very common criticism of them is that they’re expensive. This problem has gotten a lot better over the last few years, but the cheapest new EVs are still around $25,000. In wealthy countries, that’s cheap enough to be considered affordable in 2023, but we have to remember that not all countries are wealthy.

The top-selling car in history is the Toyota Corolla, but that’s only a figure for normal-sized four-wheeled cars. The sales of cheaper motorcycles, however, have dwarfed the sales of cars, with the Honda SuperCub and its many variants claiming the spot for the best-selling motor vehicle ever. But, once again, something else dwarves even that. Bicycles, being a lot simpler and cheaper than motorcycles sell in even greater numbers, with the Chinese Flying Pigeon taking the #1 spot for vehicle sales in history.

The point we should take from all this: cheaper vehicles sell in much greater numbers. In many places, a bicycle or a motorcycle is all that the average person could afford.

It’s also important to keep in mind that some of the most population-dense regions in the world tend to be in that category. Most of the people in the world live in the “Valeriepieris Circle,” a circle drawn around the South China Sea that extends about 2,500 miles. This is only a single-digit percentage of the earth’s surface, but contains a majority of living humans.

For various reasons, most of this area was impoverished for the 20th Century, and much of it still is. That time period covers nearly all of motor vehicle sales history, so the fact that a Chinese bicycle is the #1 selling vehicle ever seems a lot less unreal.

So, if you want to sell EVs in serious numbers, you’d better be able to provide it for a globally low price, and not just a price that’s low in the United States or Europe.

With all of this in mind, a recent announcement from Helixx looks a lot more promising than it would in a vacuum. An innovative manufacturing system has been announced for a range of mini commercial electric vehicles. These vehicles are designed and engineered in the UK to support sustainable economic development. The advanced vehicles come in a range of four and will be available for rapid deployment through local manufacture, supporting accessibility worldwide.

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The Helixx CARGO commercial delivery van is specifically designed to offer maximized cargo space, catering to businesses’ delivery needs. On the other hand, the TRUCK pickup is tailored to meet the requirements of construction businesses. The TUK features an open-body design, while the RIDE features a closed-body design — both intended as contemporary alternatives to ride-hailing and taxi fleets.

“Megacities like Jakarta, Bangkok and Dhaka have a population density that is incomparable to anything that’s been seen before. While these offer huge technology and business potential, there’s an equally important opportunity for economic and social development by providing affordable, zero-emission mobility. Helixx was born out of a clear need to provide a holistic solution,” said Steve Pegg, Helixx CEO and Co-Founder. “However, while there is an immediate benefit to replacing older, polluting vehicles with zero-emission alternatives, this does not address the bigger picture if such vehicles are distributed around the world through carbon intensive supply chains. Local manufacturing is the key to mitigating the environmental and monetary impact of shipping vehicles and components.”

Helixx’s production ecosystem is based on lessons gleaned from Automotive OEM engineering and aerospace technology, positioning it for readiness in the upcoming Industry 5.0. The company’s founder, Steve Pegg, has acquired over 25 years of experience in vehicle engineering and conceptual vehicle design for global automotive manufacturers, and he is joined by highly-regarded hypercar designers Jowyn Wong and Jakub Jodlowski.

Helixx’s approach enables regional businesses to build and operate mobility hubs for the production of zero-emission commercial vehicles. In as little as 180 days, these hubs can produce vehicles capable of servicing the needs of megacities today and into the future.

The Aim: To Clean Up Urban Air

The locally-built, zero-emission vehicles are both compact and inexpensive for enhanced accessibility, and the circular manufacturing ecosystem in which they are produced supports economic development. This approach has the potential to resolve the challenges posed by mobility and local pollution, benefiting both the people living in these cities and the local economies themselves.

Urbanization is rapidly increasing across the globe, with a projected two-thirds of the world’s population expected to reside in urban centers by 2050, resulting in 6.6 billion people. The majority of these will live in developing countries, with a forecasted 43 megacities with over 10 million inhabitants by 2030. Unfortunately, many citizens in these regions are presently forced to rely on small, highly polluting vehicles for public transportation and commerce.

To address this issue, the UN has identified electric vehicle adoption as a crucial area in which to take action. This is among the 25 recommended critical action areas that could significantly improve air quality and save millions of lives among the one billion individuals living in Asia by 2030.

Helixx vehicles are locally manufactured within the company’s licensed Mobility Hubs and are available through a business-to-business fleet subscription pricing model starting at just $0.25 per hour, providing an accessible option for commercial users. This approach promotes local enterprise, providing opportunities for small businesses to succeed.

Embracing Industry 5.0’s ideals, Helixx’s digital-first ecosystem values flexibility, agility, and sustainability, breaking the mold of traditional automotive manufacturing models. The ecosystem is designed to be scalable, low-cost, and eco-friendly, with Mobility Hubs that are licensed for speedy deployment anywhere globally. In only 180 days, local businesses can produce these vehicles — from an empty building to a finished product — ensuring swift progress to building an actual transportation company.

“The design of the Helixx vehicles serves multiple functions. Firstly, it ensures that the vehicles are aesthetically pleasing, fit for purpose to meet the needs of local businesses and comfortable for drivers and passengers,” said Jowyn Wong, Helixx Chief Vision Officer. “Secondly, our approach also drives simplicity into the product design. This facilitates effortless assembly, either by people or automated intelligent robots, reducing the manufacturing carbon footprint massively.”

Featured image provided by Helixx.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1983 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba