EV Partnership Delivers Glass-fiber-reinforced Battery Cases

Munich-based E-Works Mobility, which specializes in the development and production of electrically powered vans, is pushing ahead with the evolution of the E-Works Heero, a high-performance e-transporter. The engineers recently focused on the complete redevelopment of a new battery box to replace the previous aluminum construction.

The E-Works team found what they were looking for in the fiber-reinforced-plastics expert SGL Carbon. The company is now supplying the first battery boxes made of glass-fiber-reinforced plastic (GFRP) to E-Works following extensive prototype tests. These highly stable protective battery casings offer several advantages — above all in terms of energy and raw material efficiency and from a safety perspective.

“SGL Carbon is one of the world’s most innovative and efficient companies when it comes to high-strength plastic solutions,” said Dominik Ashkar, managing director of E-Works Mobility GmbH. “Whether in the automotive, aerospace, semiconductor technology, LED, solar and wind energy, or lithium-ion battery industries, SGL Carbon solutions are used, in particular, where future technologies are involved. We are all the more pleased that we have found a new partner in SGL Carbon for our battery boxes, which are no longer made of aluminum, but of particularly light and at the same time very stable glass-fiber-reinforced plastic,” said Ashkar. “It is certainly not a matter of course that a world-renowned company would take on the challenge of embarking on complex development work for small-series production at great expense. This makes the result, which offers us and the vehicle user several advantages, all the more remarkable.”

Plastic-based composites a natural for EVs

The newly developed battery housings offer considerable weight savings, but also better battery insulation and fire protection thanks to the significantly lower heat conduction compared to aluminum or even steel. The material is fire-retardant and transfers minimal heat to neighboring components after an accident, for example. What’s more, GFRP is corrosion-resistant and has elevated electromagnetic compatibility.

“The use of plastic-based composite materials is extremely sensible, especially for electric vehicles, and leads to increased product and system efficiency,” said Jürgen Joos, head of program management materials in SGL Carbon’s Composite Solutions business unit. “In series production, they offer significantly reduced costs compared to metal processing. Due to the lighter weight with comparable or even better stability, the material even contributes to better dynamic driving performance and ultimately a longer range. For us, the collaboration with E-Works is an excellent opportunity to prove many of these advantages in tough everyday use,” said Joos.

To ensure that this succeeds, the current project between the two innovation leaders will be regularly evaluated and further developed.

Low-cost, long-range transportation

Founded in 2017, E-Works Mobility GmbH develops and builds customer-specific electric vans and electric drive components. With the Heero, E-Works offers a high-performance electric van with a range of up to 500 km (310 miles) and has a permissible total weight of 3.5 to 5.5 tons. With a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tons, it is one of the most powerful electric vans on the market. 

The made-in-Germany hardware and software enable both the construction of new vehicles and the electrification of existing vehicles with combustion engines. Another advantage is cost: By employing used vehicle parts, vehicle prices are significantly lower than comparable vans.