The Niche Vehicle Network (NVN) Forum took place at Silverstone University Technical College over looking the Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire.
NVN is an independent association of over 800 niche vehicle manufacturers, specialist technology, design and engineering companies. The event was well attended, over 150 people getting the opportunity to see formal presentations by selected companies on their specific business capabilities and current projects they are working on.
Silverstone UTC proved to be an excellent location for this event, with students on hand to explain about the college with a tour to see the facilities and look at projects they are involved with, such as Formula Student, Europe’s most established educational engineering competition. The conference space on the top floor, with the backdrop of students studying, provided an excellent networking opportunity whilst enjoying the excellent food and refreshments.
Niche vehicle manufacturers including Zenos Cars, Ariel, Caterham, BAC and Delta Motorsport have collaborated with suppliers such as Mahle Powertrain, Emerge Engineering and Surface Transforms to develop technologies and systems.
Drive has provided consultancy services to many low volume vehicle manufacturers and during that time has built up an understanding of the challenges that these businesses face in developing and establishing a successful vehicle in the market.
Niche vehicles have always provided opportunities for entrepreneurs to build successful businesses but now more than ever they are providing a solution to specific transportation problems. This is leading to opportunities for OEMs to use niche vehicles to expand their brand into new markets, become leaders by redefining a market or exploiting new technologies.
Low volume vehicles provide unique challenges in the product offering, manufacturing constraints and the commercial demands. Drive have been involved in numerous programmes and have built up experience of the various approaches to the business proposal, from designers wishing to produce their concept, technology led business opportunities and brand experience products. Spectre Cars, Delta Motorsport, Magna Styer, Zenos Cars, Caterham Cars and Lightning Car Company have benefitted from Drive’s expertise at various stages during their projects.
Whilst the funding for niche vehicle projects is provided from varying sources depending on the circumstances, the necessary underlying business case has to be rigorously tested and proved just the same, before investing of valuable time, resources and money. Drive’s in depth experience can help build the background to the project, give crucial investor confidence in the participating parties and provide experience and guidance throughout project timeline.
Through the development and refinement of the design our experienced team maintain the initial design intent whilst answering the engineering and economic challenges posed by these unique projects.
Drive’s understanding of the difficulties facing niche vehicle manufacturers (NVMs) trying to establish a company or product make them ideal partners to be involved in the development of a robust product concept and commercial strategy, whilst helping identify design and manufacturing efficiencies through collaboration with strategic partners.
Not every venture can be the success that everyone is looking for but minimising the risk by being fully aware of the undertaking at the start, with suitable gateways mapped out so that owners and investors can make informed decisions before embarking on the next phase, help to increase the chances of a sustainable business.
Last night saw the opening event of the Royal Automobile Club’s London Motor Week.
The Club has been working with the designers of the future at the Royal College of Art Intelligent Mobility Programme and have teamed up this year with the RAC Foundation to set the students a project entitled: ‘Inclusion and Empathy – Meeting Special Mobility Needs in the Age of Autonomy’, tasking the students with real life mobility issues in a changing automotive world.
The evening showcased the work of the students and the outcomes they have created to tackle these issues.
The invited guests were able to quiz the designers about their work. Tom Purves, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club, was joined by club members, industry experts and leading automotive designers.
With the ‘Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill 2017-19’ currently being debated in Parliament and a Government Policy advisor in attendance, the relevance and importance of the subject matter being discussed is clear.
The Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall is a fantastic building inside and a perfect setting for the event, giving the international students a great insight to the history and traditions of British motoring contrasting with their future creations.
Founded in 1897 with the aim of encouraging the development of motoring in Britain, today the Royal Automobile Club is one of London’s finest private members’ clubs, with its magnificent galleried hall.
For more news on events for London Motor Week
Drive is celebrating 20 years since it was established in September 1997. To mark the event we had a Drive Design Studio at the Goodwood Revival.
The Goodwood Revival is a fantastic event caught in a nostalgic time warp encorporating the best of 1940s, 50s and 60s motor racing meetings.
A chance for visitors to take themselves out of their modern world and watch rare and classic cars racing flat out with no quarter given around the classic Goodwood circuit, as well as simply taking in all the surrounding period attractions.
For Drive it was an opportunity to celebrate our anniversary and acknowledge the support we have had from design and engineering colleagues, clients and suppliers.
Over the weekend we were pleased that everyone visiting Drive’s revival Design Studio, entered in to the spirit of the event, both in their vintage attire and the Designer activities.
Thanks and see you all soon.
‘Peaky Blinder Designers’ photo courtesy of jlphotography.co.uk
A recent boom in new buzz phrases have hit the automotive world, one of which I would like to discuss is ‘VR’. Virtual reality is something of which I was quite sceptical of at first, and partly still am, however here at Drive we now have a fantastic HTC Vive set up to which we are all becoming accustomed to using in our day to day work.
So how have we facilitated the use of the VR set up within the studio? We are always finding new ways to use it, but within the realms of being a beneficial tool rather than being a slave to it. A good example is the recent Bugatti concept that you may have seen flying through the social media high ways, a personal project started by Adrian Biggins, one of our alias modellers.
Projects like this are an important to everyone at Drive, with our passion for automotive design and especially for anything that goes fast is in our DNA. With Adrian showing me what he was up to, I jumped on board his project, being unable to resist getting involved with something as extreme as this. We worked together to design, resolve and refine the concept simultaneously combining our work flows through Photoshop, Alias and via Unity – VR. A truly harmonious spectacle to behold!
The use of VR is a great tool to check the design through the modelling development process and helps both modeller and designer. An instant tool at our finger tips that allowed us to critique and rapidly develop the concept, producing a better result in a quicker time frame. As a tool VR makes you aware of the digital model issues you normally only realise when you are standing in front of a full scale clay. I am a firm believer in the development of a physical model, and VR is a benefit to allow any studio to start physical modelling stage from a more advanced point, speeding up the process and saving time.