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Borough business puts electric vehicle market in rapture at new Raptor
5:00pm Sunday 18th August 2013 in News
A new electric vehicle designed, manufactured and assembled in the Midlands is enjoying a hugely successful first year with £1.5m of orders already in the pipeline and numerous jobs created.
Ecospin, which is the brainchild of brothers Paul and David Loomes, has seen demand for its three-wheeled EPV come from all over the world, with 350 units already destined for distributors in the United States and Australia.
Backed by strategic and product development support from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), the company is now putting the finishing touches to a strategic partnership with ACE Forming to set up a dedicated production line in Dudley.
This move will give the duo the potential to manufacture between 1500 and 2000 vehicles every year and, if sold, will see sales reach £10m.
Paul Loomes, Managing Director, commented: “When we officially unveiled the Raptor last year, we knew there would be interest but we didn’t expect to have such a guaranteed order book so quickly.
“The big break came when we were approached by the global vehicle manufacturer Vectrix, who wanted to take the Raptor and distribute it in North America under the ES3 brand.”
He continued: “They were impressed with our vehicle’s speed, range and ability to be driven over all forms of terrain, including gravel, grass and up steep hills.
“Vectrix has already received sales of over 300 in the US, with the units destined for police forces, federal agencies and private security groups.”
David picked up the story: “This initial interest was quickly followed by discussions with Australia-based LordCo Pty Ltd, who will be responsible for selling the Raptor across the Oceana region. Orders for 50 vehicles are already in the pipeline and this figure will rocket next year.
The development of the Raptor has been three years in the making and MAS has been involved from the outset when it was introduced to the vehicle as a clay model at Paul’s studio at home.
Recognising the potential for a next generation practical road legal personal electric powered vehicle, the business support organisation worked with the brothers to re-shape their target market and push for early testing at MIRA, a move that helped convince it to move to rear-wheel drive.
After more than two years of development, additional manufacturing support from the Midlands Assembly Network and £1.2m of personal investment, the green vehicle was officially launched to the market amid a fanfare of publicity and interest.
Industry experts were impressed with the combination of the latest automotive design techniques and the bespoke electric powertrain.
A custom-made chassis, electronic differential and bespoke handling software delivers expert control and cornering, with twin rear-wheel drive providing increased traction over loose, slippery and steep surfaces.
An elevated ride platform allows for the rider to see over crowds and increases visibility at events, with different lithium battery options offering speeds of 25 mph and up to 50-mile range subject to duty cycle.
David continued: “MAS has been a huge supporter and source of knowledge, contacts and funding…you could tell from day one that they really believed in what we did.
“Our Advisor – David Nuttall – took a lot of time to understand what we were trying to achieve and he has given us some tremendous advice over the years, including testing at MIRA, sourcing supply partners and access to the New Product Development Programme.
“We didn’t always believe the advice we were being given was right, but history tells us that we were wrong. We’re probably a year ahead of where we could have been.”
MAS’ David Nuttall added his support: “Gaining road legal approval in the UK was a massive plus for Ecospin and separates it from the competition.
“The next challenge is to ramp up production and satisfy orders, whilst building on a growing distribution network. We will also be helping the firm to work towards and secure European Whole Vehicle Type Approval, which will allow it to be legally used on roads in the EU and in Australia.”
Ecospin, which has offices in Dudley and a R&D and assembly facility on Narborough Word Park in Leicester, has already created six jobs and expects to create a further ten next year.
The Raptor, which starts from £6500, is the first in a series of electric powered vehicles planned by the Loomes brothers.
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