Shanghai-based personal mobility provider Aiways explains the advantages of being a startup during the current ‘electric’ revolution in the automotive industry. The EV era has created opportunities for new entrants to the market, giving startups and tech giants alike the chance to make a mark in one of the most highly competitive global industries.
Aiways was established in 2017 with the ambition to combine Chinese manufacturing and international technological expertise to create a range of EVs capable of performing on the European stage. Its debut product, the Aiways U5 SUV, was launched in 2019 and, a year later, became the first Chinese EV to be exported to Europe, filling a gap in the market by providing a capable EV at an affordable price. Now on sale in 16 markets globally, the Aiways success story is one worth telling.
Aiways’ Vice President of Overseas Operations, Alexander Klose said: “Legacy manufacturers have restrictions and expectations whereas new companies have the advantage to be whatever they want.
“As a startup, we could pick and choose the best experts to assist us at every step of the way. We have collaborated with global partners to develop a range of proprietary technologies that give us an edge over the competition, despite our young age.”
Proprietary technologies – world-first platform construction, ‘sandwich’ battery pack and three-in-one powertrain
Aiways chose to self-develop its own pure electric platform instead of adapting from an ICE platform. “The challenge was to create a lightweight platform to ensure EV performance while also ensuring the safest possible structure,” said Aiways’ Chief Technology Officer, Zhang Jie.
“The result was the More Adaptable Structure (MAS) platform which is the first in the world to use steel on top and aluminum below. Key joints of the lower body are formed of one-piece cast aluminum for body stiffness, whereas for other parts, the priority is strength. Take the shock absorber tower as an example. It is only 2.5mm at its thinnest point, making it extremely difficult to form. An extensive search to identify the very best global precision manufacturers soon led Aiways to a solution,” he continued. And the future looks promising for new Aiways models as the MAS platform can be applied to multiple body styles and powertrain configurations.
So successful was Aiways in meeting its objective for a lightweight platform that the Aiways U5 SUV set a new benchmark with 52 per cent aluminum that reduces the body-in-white by 50kg compared to ICE vehicles and improves EV efficiency.
In parallel to the development of Aiways proprietary platform, the engineering team worked on Aiways ‘sandwich’ battery pack. Wet and dry areas of the battery are separated by partition to ensure that even in the event of an extreme collision, the coolant cannot flow into the module and cause any issues. For added protection, there is a 15mm safety gap between the cooling layer and the casing itself.
Aiways stepped away from the traditional separated structure of motor, gearbox and controller and developed a three-in-one, highly integrated motor, which not only improves the use of space but also reduces overall vehicle weight. The Aiways three-in-one electric system is 15 per cent smaller (only 69 liters), 10 per cent more power-dense (over 3.5kW/kg) and rotates at around 25 per cent higher (16,000 rpm) than comparative powertrains.
World-first platform structure, one of the safest battery packs on the market and exceptional performance from the three-in-one powertrain result in a compelling product offering. Along with strong SUV style and competitive pricing, such technologies make the Aiways products unique in the market. Few others have used fledgling status to such an advantage and curated a brand and product from scratch that can compete in Europe.
Later in 2022, Aiways will strengthen its line-up with the introduction of the Aiways U6 SUV- Coupé. This second model will broaden Aiways’ awareness and attract more Europeans to make the switch to e-mobility.