Her Majesty the Queen has today recognised Williams Advanced Engineering with a Queen's Award for Enterprise in Innovation. The award is for the Company's innovation in successfully transferring technology into commercial applications from designing, developing and delivering the batteries for all the cars racing in the Formula E championship. Formula E is the world’s first fully-electric international single-seater racing series. The technology has relevance beyond the automotive and motorsport sectors in both energy and power applications.
The Queen's Awards for Enterprise are the UK's most prestigious business awards, recognising and celebrating business excellence across the UK.
Williams Advanced Engineering has powered all the cars on the ABB FIA Formula E grid since its inception in 2014. Now in its fourth season, the Formula E championship has benefited from technology developed by Williams Advanced Engineering that has seen a 99.8% reliability record in races from the Company’s batteries.
"We are honoured to have been recognised by Her Majesty with this award for the industry-leading work of Williams Advanced Engineering in delivering a world-first that will light the way for future sustainable transport," said Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering. "I pay tribute to our team that has powered Formula E from the beginning at such a high level of innovation, performance, service and reliability."
The main innovation by Williams Advanced Engineering, recognised with this prestigious award, is in transferring the learning from designing and building, with a very short lead time, a battery that could power 40 electric racing cars at 225kph, yet still be practical in terms of aerodynamics, range, recharging times and safety into research and commercial applications. With air quality and sustainable mobility near the top of the public agenda, this means that more customers of Williams Advanced Engineering have required expertise in electrification.
The Formula E battery project has facilitated the transfer of technology involved in racing to additional projects in electrification, a core competency of the Company. Williams Advanced Engineering has been able to advance its capabilities in cell and module construction, optimised packaging and weight, battery management systems, cooling systems, vehicle efficiency, and safety structures. This expertise has become well-known in the industry and has led to significant business growth for the Company over the past 3 years.
“Motorsport has traditionally been the test bed for new technologies, particularly in mobility and automotive applications,” continued Wilson. “This next generation of motorsport has already established itself as a technology innovator, with battery technology already feeding into many sectors and growing in importance. The battery has safety at its core. It is the first lithium ion battery to have passed stringent FIA crash testing regulations. It has also had to meet stringent air safety regulations in order to be transported around the world to support the global calendar of race events. Furthermore, each battery was required to last two full seasons – requiring exceptional reliability for such new technology in challenging racing environments – and they had to be produced in race ready condition in less than 12 months.”
The technology is transferable to different sectors and delivers energy efficient savings and benefits outside racing. Lessons learned from the Formula E programme are also applied into road cars of today and tomorrow, delivering sustainable mobility for the world of the future.
For example, Aston Martin chose Williams Advanced Engineering as technical partner for its first all-electric model, the RapidE, with Williams Advanced Engineering assisting with the complex engineering integration. Having been a key partner in the original concept of the RapidE, Williams Advanced Engineering then led a consortium of organisations, including Aston Martin and Unipart Group, in a successful bid for an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) Competition. This funding will be used as a foundation to create a high performance and flexible battery supply capability in the UK.
Williams Advanced Engineering is now a world leader in battery technology – a key global market for the future where the UK can take a lead role, delivering economic as well as environmental benefits. Additional examples of the application of the knowledge into other areas are Airbus’s Zephyr, Netfficient and Williams Advanced Engineering’s own FW-EVX.