Imagine a futuristic drivetrain with vintage style...
Once upon a time, a relatively typical way of buying a car or a truck was to purchase a ready-powered rolling chassis from an automaker, then have a coachbuilding company put the body of your choice over the top. Think of it as tailoring for cars, but as manufacturing improved it became a lot cheaper and easier to buy something off the rack, and unit-body construction made a custom body a difficult thing to engineer. Subsequently, the art of coachbuilding has become a niche industry for the extremely wealthy, with modern examples includes Touring Superleggera and even the Bentley Bacalar. However, a UK-based firm called Watt Electric Vehicle Company Ltd is aiming to breathe new life into the idea of coachbuilding with its Passenger and Commercial EV Skateboard (PACES) platform. As the chassis and drivetrain are one unit in a skateboard chassis, it means other companies can build whatever vehicle they like on top.
According to Watt Electric Vehicle Company, the PACES platform can be scaled to underpin a range of vehicles from small sports cars to large passenger vans and buses. As a proof of concept, the company shows off its model simply called "Coupe", which is deliberately not a Porsche 356 clone. As well as providing a platform to build bodies upon, the platform is modular and configurable, meaning it can be front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive, or all-wheel drive. WEVC says that the battery packs used are supplied by "a leading global OEM."
The new outfit is owned by Neil Yates, who also owns a company that preps rally cars. That leads us to believe the company is serious when it says the rear-wheel-drive Coupe has 50:50 weight distribution and a performance-tuned chassis. According to the website, the Coupe also has a 230-mile range from its 40-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.
This isn't a wholly new idea, but nobody offers a turn-key electric car platform like this yet. However, large automakers like Volkswagen has already seen how a single electric vehicle platform could underpin a wide range of models. Its MEB platform is used for the compact ID.3 hatchback, the ID.4 crossover, and the upcoming ID.6. The platform is also expected to underpin the return of the Volkswagen Bus.
Our only fear for small companies like Watt is that a company like Volkswagen could offer its MEB platform to low-volume automakers cheaper. Either way, we would love to see electric vehicles jolt the coach building industry back to life.