What do custom cars and bicycle builders have in common? They both have a huge arsenal of top-notch, third-party components sourced from around the globe to incorporate into their builds. A restomod classic car might have an Art Morrison chassis, Wilwood brakes, and a Chevrolet Performance crate motor riding under its shiny old-school sheet metal.
Same thing with bicycle builders, they aggregate high-quality, third-party components like handlebars, gear sets, tires, and brake systems into their final product. E-bike builders buy propulsion systems from makers like Bafang and Boesch. You could argue that today’s custom car builders and bicycle manufacturers are essentially “final assembly” outfits, combining the best parts from around the world and then applying their brand badge.
One aspect of the electrification revolution will take a page out of this playbook. Many companies from around the world are positioning themselves to take advantage of this market, including the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC). The famous London cab builder is now owned by the Chinese industrial goliath Geely, and they want to get into the business of selling not only EV components but entire BEV platforms.
LEVC has developed an EV skateboard chassis that will not only underpin the company’s future product line but will be for sale to other manufacturers. OEMs that have lagged in EV development, either because they were shortsighted or underfunded to spend the billions of dollars needed to develop modern EV architecture, can now simply buy a ready-to-go platform and slap their body on it. This “tophat” approach has most recently been developed in 2017 by GM and its Ultium EV platform. The scalable architecture will be the foundation for everything GM builds, from Bolt replacements to hulking Hummers.
Let’s take a look at what’s up over in England and the folks at London Electric Vehicle Company. A recent announcement heralds a significant new chapter in LEVC’s history, as it sets course for the next decade and beyond. The introduction of its cutting-edge pure electric vehicle technology will serve as the foundation for its transition from a high-end taxi manufacturer to a leading e-mobility solutions provider.
With over 100 years of ‘mobility’ experience, LEVC has been dedicated to transporting people in urban areas in vehicles specifically designed for this purpose, dating back to 1908. From the outset, LEVC’s vehicles have been created with one fundamental principle in mind: purpose-built solutions.
Building on this unparalleled legacy, LEVC’s new strategy will provide smart, green, safe, and accessible mobility for all through a new range of state-of-the-art electric vehicles, under its vision – “a sustainable mobility future for a better world.”
To underscore this commitment, LEVC is unveiling the foundation for a range of next-generation products today: its cutting-edge new EV platform – Space Oriented Architecture (SOA). Co-developed with Geely Holding Group, SOA is modular and scalable, the first EV platform in the world focused on setting new standards for onboard space, bringing interior-optimized zero-emission mobility to more consumers than ever before while enabling LEVC to enter new sectors.
Developed over the past 2.5 years at R&D centers in China, Sweden, the UK, and Germany, SOA’s unparalleled flexibility maximizes interior space and offers multiple seating and load-carrying configurations. It can support a wide range of new products – from passenger-carrying models to commercial vehicles – offering significant improvements in range, efficiency, safety, charging time, durability, and connectivity
This will establish LEVC as a leading provider of advanced mobility solutions worldwide. Sustainability is central to all of LEVC’s products, providing drivers, passengers, and fleet operators with purpose-built, industry-leading electric vehicles.
SOA represents an unparalleled optimization of space for any application. As the world moves towards fully electric vehicles, there is a growing demand for new, specialized, zero-emission transportation solutions that are suitable for both urban and non-urban environments across various sectors.
With the importance of the interior experience increasing, the SOA platform will allow LEVC to meet and exceed the expectations of global mobility customers, who demand greater onboard comfort, cargo capacity, and accessibility. SOA features a centrally located battery that provides a completely flat floor, maximizing space for passengers, cargo, or both.
The platform also optimizes the packaging of electric powertrain components at the front of the vehicle, creating additional space for the driver and passenger. At the rear, SOA employs an innovative suspension design that includes extra storage capacity beneath the main luggage area, behind the rear axle.
SOA sets new standards for accessibility with low step-in heights and raises the bar for interior flexibility with multiple seating configurations and nearly limitless possibilities. The platform’s innovative design maximizes interior space to such an extent that an extra row of seats can be added to the vehicle compared to other vehicles in its class.
Multiple configurations are made possible by a fully flexible seating arrangement with a sliding track that runs from front to rear. SOA can accommodate vehicles ranging in size from 4,860mm to 5,995mm in length and 1,945mm to 1,998mm in width, with wheelbases from 3,000mm to 3,800mm. It can be configured for a wide range of electric vehicles, from spacious passenger models to cargo-optimized commercial applications and can support front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive layouts.
SOA features state-of-the-art fast charging capabilities. Customers can choose from a range of advanced batteries, from 73kWh to 120kWh, to meet their individual needs. SOA combines spaciousness with long ranges of up to 695km and ultra-fast charging, maximizing convenience and minimizing downtime.
In addition to maximizing passenger space, SOA’s optimized front-end packaging provides a high-performance crash structure and energy absorption, achieving five-star safety standards in Europe and China. The platform also features a high-performance suspension design and high torsional stiffness for improved handling, comfort, and refinement.
In addition to its innovative physical design, SOA also incorporates the latest digital platform technology with L-OS, a new electronic architecture designed specifically for the future of mobility. With its powerful computing capabilities, L-OS provides users with the ultimate experience, including autonomous capabilities and intelligent cockpits, forming a complete digital operating system. L-OS technology enables SOA-based vehicles to have autonomous capabilities ranging from Level 2 to Level 4, providing new levels of driver assistance.
L-OS also incorporates the latest advancements in occupant experience through ECARX experts, using their advanced Antora intelligent computing platform to deliver the ultimate in intelligent, digital cockpits with high-feature content and functionality.
Over-the-air (OTA) software updates allow SOA-based vehicles to stay up-to-date, enhancing the user experience and continuously improving usability and efficiency. SOA is also an open-source electric vehicle platform available for partners outside of LEVC and Geely Holding Group to use as the foundation for their future products. The architecture is expected to generate synergies that reduce development costs for participating brands and generate substantial savings on R&D costs.
Alex Nan, CEO of LEVC, stated the company is entering an exciting new chapter in its history with the unveiling of its innovative and highly flexible Space Oriented Architecture (SOA) pure electric vehicle platform technology. SOA optimizes onboard space, offering multiple configurations and endless possibilities, supporting LEVC’s new strategy to become a leading provider of zero-carbon mobility. Combined with its groundbreaking L-OS digital architecture, SOA will bring LEVC’s new mission to life, delivering smart, green, safe, and accessible mobility to all, enabling the company to transform from a high-end taxi manufacturer into a provider of state-of-the-art pure electric vehicles in new sectors.
For LEVC, the concept of mobility is not new; it has been part of the company’s DNA for over a century. While the iconic vehicles produced by LEVC since 1908 have changed over time, their core principles have remained the same: they have always been purpose-built for the city and focused on providing the best occupant experience. Building on its unrivaled heritage of producing the iconic London black cab, LEVC is adapting its business to meet the rapidly growing demand for spacious and flexible electric vehicles. The company’s rich history is combined with the resources of the Geely organization to set its brand on an exciting new path as it launches an adaptable architecture for an adapting world. With the combined strength of its new strategy and SOA, LEVC will bring advanced zero-emission transportation to more customers than ever before.
Electrified Mag’s Take: This is a great idea but a tad late to the party. Nonetheless, as the EV movement shreds the status quo among automakers, many OEMs will be left behind in the electrification game, including Subaru, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota, just to name a few.
Buying a production-ready EV chassis and then finishing it with unique bodywork might be the wave of the future and the salvation for struggling OEMs or startups. It’s been whispered that there will be only ten global automakers left standing by the mid-2030s.
Let’s not forget that LEVC’s platform would not be eligible for any IRA ncentives as its parent company and most likely the batteries are based in China.
If you think this is far-fetched, see the upcoming Honda Prologue and Acura ZDX CUVs. Honda will buy GM’s Ultium EV chassis and fill a void that current management allowed to grow. Sure, Honda makes hybrid models, and has been in the news lately with its collaboration with Sony on an electric car, but make no mistake, in North America, it is basing its bread-and-butter CUVs on GM technology rather than starting from scratch.
They’ve already signed a memorandum with GM on collaboration and synchronized their factories to build Ultium-based models. I may be presumptuous here, but I say GM and Honda have already merged.
Could the equivalent of an automotive format war ensue? Only time will tell, but if GM could get one or two more OEMs to base their vehicles off Ultium it would create an ecosystem surrounding the platform that could enforce its dominance. This could be huge for Tesla too. Think of a “Powered By Tesla” badge added to an otherwise dowdy brand adding instant cool minus the billion-dollar R&D price tag.