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Building a Pickup from Scratch: A Case Study

As experts in low-carbon vehicle technologies, FutureMotiv – along with our parent group, RLE International – were commissioned on behalf of our customer to create an electric pick-up truck. And, to be frank, that was as much information as we got on the brief. In the words of our High Voltage Systems Engineer:

“We knew the rough shape of the vehicle. We knew it was going to be a cab, a flatbed and four wheels – but that was all.”

The customer’s vision was to have a vehicle that could rival the offerings from established brands, such as Ford and Tesla. In an effort to compete, they purchased a factory in the United States; only problem was, they had nothing to build in there.
Designing a vehicle from the ground up presents a unique challenge because the blueprint doesn’t exist. There are no guidelines, no set parameters, no reference point from which to work. The difficulty comes knowing that each design choice will potentially impact everything down the line. This means making the right decisions early on is imperative to the project’s success.

 FutureMotiv’s focus on the project was the electrical engineering and functional safety for the final vehicle, defining the wiring architecture and designing the propulsion system. The benefit of employing the FutureMotiv team to the customer was the agility we offer compared to the creation of an in-house department. Knowing the factory purchase could potentially add extra pressure onto the client, we acted quickly and decisively.

And it is our decisiveness which is key to this project. FutureMotiv have highly skilled engineers who are experts in their fields. Our collective knowledge is incredibly valuable to clients and their overall project management. Leaning on our expertise, placing trust in our capacity to perform, reduces bottlenecks and creates an ungated workflow.

With this project, our experience also came to the fore away from the laboratory. When the brief and desired timescale were received, FutureMotiv knew there was a disconnect from the very start. Getting the desired outcome in the timeframe was not achievable by any capacity. Having a vehicle built from scratch in less than 18 months is incredibly difficult for even the most established brand, let alone a startup with a fraction of the budget and resources. Our team met with the customer to present a project proposal with achievable deadlines which were still far more rapid than any traditional vehicle design.

Speaking to those with industry experience, the time it takes for a production vehicle to go from pen-to-paper to rolling out of the factory is typically between 3-5 years. With our support, the project was completed in 30 months.

This was less about expectation management than it was about instilling confidence in the client. We knew the client’s budget, we knew their overall goal, and we have demonstrable experience of working with startups and realising their aspirations. The combination meant, when we offered a solution, the client agreed and acted accordingly.

We love the work that we do at FutureMotiv. And we love working with clients whose aspirations know no boundaries. They are the market disrupters, the ones who can fundamentally sow changes within the industry. If the project is not a challenge, the client is probably not setting their sights high enough.

And we encourage the blue-sky thinkers, those who genuinely feel they will make a difference. As the global landscape is in a period of transition away from ICE mobility, FutureMotiv offer solutions to accelerate and, ultimately, cement low-carbon vehicles into the mainstream.