Five new things I learned at Automechanika 2019

Automechanika board

In this article: Innovations in motor windings. Battery pack recovery. And spreading the word of #TechSafe. Insights from the top show for the automotive trade…

This year’s Automechanika was, in my opinion, the best so far. Many colleagues agreed. I don’t know if it was the new ‘central roadway’ layout or the general quality of the stands and displays, but it felt brighter and fresher. There didn’t seem to be too much high-pressure sales going on either. I think the various vendors have learned that if we want or need something at a show, we will buy what suits us best – it doesn’t help to try and force us into a sale!

Anyway, that’s perhaps what some vendors learned. Here are my five main ‘takeaways’ from the event:

  1. I attended an SMMT presentation by Yasa Motors. They are an Oxford University spin-out and have a motor design that can be significantly more efficient than existing ones. They use a technology where the windings in the motor are wound axially (around the outer ring or stator of the motor as normal, but in the same direction as the motor turns). Most existing motors have stator windings that are wound radially (as if around the end of spokes in a wheel).
  2. Another SMMT presentation about EV batteries was interesting. It hinged around the 5 Rs! Repair, Reuse, Reprocess, Recycle and Recover (I don’t think I wrote all those down correctly, but you get the idea). The innovative idea that the company had was that their processing workshop was in containers so could be taken to where the batteries are, rather than the batteries being transported long distances. The EV battery packs were tested, individual cells replaced if needed and put back into use. They also reuse batteries for home storage for example, and only reprocess, recycle and recover if absolutely necessary. Even some of the batteries that were recycled could have some good cells, so these would be used for repairs. It was a great way of maximising our use of rare metals such as cobalt and of course lithium and/or nickel.
  3. Myself, Steve Nash (CEO of the IMI) and a colleague Quentin LeHet, did a keynote presentation about how the numbers of high-voltage vehicles are increasing (I learned that they will outnumber non-HV on the roads in 2025/6). The particular stress of the presentation, however, was the safety and legality of technicians working on high voltages. So important. #TechSafe
  4. I learned that the event was a great opportunity to network and make new contacts. It was also good to meet lots of people I only knew previously from various Facebook groups. I learned again what a dedicated professional bunch of people these are and how hard they work and study to stay at the top of their game. This ensures they are providing the best experience for customers. Great job all, keep it up!
  5. The final and arguably the most important thing I learned was that even when a hotel says it is a short walk from the NEC halls, it is not, especially in the rain without an umbrella! Oh, how I wished a vendor had pressured me into buying one…

Automechanika Birmingham is the leading trade exhibition for the automotive industry targeting trade visitors from the UK. The event took place in Birmingham on 8-9 June 2019.

WATCH NOW: Here’s why we need professional standards for electrified vehicles #TechSafe.

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