Lightweight Electric Vehicle Architecture (LEVA) is a project targeting the acceleration of and innovation behind new lightweight structures for next-generation net-zero emissions vehicles. Incorporating cutting-edge UK-based engineering and manufacturing expertise, LEVA will be a showcase for pioneering new BEV chassis and powertrain concepts. The project will collaborate in the development of a state-of-the-art digital twin, adopting high-performance aluminium alloys developed by leading academics from BCAST at Brunel University London.
OEMs have identified key enablers for the development of a series of new, UK BEV products, scalable from an ‘every-day’ BEV sports car up to a sports cross-over. The BEV products could integrate into an existing ‘in-development’ platform based upon the world-renowned aluminium bonded chassis.
This opportunity is not currently within the OEM’ Vision 80 cycle plan, and project LEVA would spearhead new, incremental Lotus BEV sports cars and client products, dramatically increasing the number of UK manufactured BEV products and positioning the UK as leaders in BEV lightweighting.
The technical project outputs will include digital vehicle concepts, a multidisciplinary optimisation model (Digital Twin), and a state-of-the-art prototype, a lightweight rear sub-frame for a rear electric axle. This lightweight frame will encompass a patented die casting alloy recently developed by leading academics at Brunel University London.
Casting prototypes and key aspects of the digital twin development will be led by SME manufacturer.
The total project budget is £1.99mln and the APC grant requested is £1.0mln. The project outcomes have a clear route to market with opportunities which can lead to new job creation within the OEM and the supply chain, underpinned by new, UK-based BEV production and leveraging the UK IP.
Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project
Dr Shouxun Ji
- Prof. Shouxun Ji is currently a Professor at Brunel University London. He has been focusing on the development of lightweight materials and structures for the automotive industry, aerospace, powered tools, and other sectors. The main activities include purpose-developed aluminium alloys and magnesium alloys with improved ductility, strength (at ambience and elevated temperatures), modulus and thermal conductivity, and the hybrid structures using different materials and different joining techniques. He is also working on new materials and structures for special applications, such as materials for explosive cords and high strength casting materials for aircraft. His works have helped industrial partners to deliver several products in massive manufacturing. Recently, he worked with world leading company to develop magnesium alloys for small engine applications, which requires improved strength and thermal conductivity at room temperature and at elevated temperatures.
Prof. Ji have plenty experiences in high pressure die casting including die structure design, gating system design and optimisation, casting process and casting materials. He also worked extensively on other shaped-casting processes such as sand casting, gravity casting, low pressure die casting, semi-solid metal processing of rheo-die casting, rheo-extrusion, and rheo-twin roll casting. His previous works also included cast irons (spheroidal graphite cast iron and austempered ductile iron) and copper alloys.
Prof. Ji has published more than 130 papers in the peer-reviewed scientific Journals and more than 20 international patents. He is the member of three ISO technical committee and one BSI technical committee and the editorial member of three scientific journals. He received the innovation award from CMF UK in 2017.