The Technology

Our cutting-edge methods, materials and solutions

We have collaborated with experts from the automotive industry and the best of UK academia to push the boundaries on automotive battery technology, efficient tyres and aerodynamics. The end product is an efficient and practical electric car, with a battery a quarter the size of that in a Tesla but with more than double the driving range.

As a result of these cutting-edge collaborations, the vehicle boasts some impressive figures including: 

  • Being able to drive at 80 kilometres per hour using the power of a kettle;
  • Achieving a motorway capable top speed;
  • Having a single-charge range of over 900 kilometres, an equivalent of a London to Edinburgh trip.

The vehicle chassis and body panels are composed of carbon fibre, produced thanks to our partnerships with Formaplex, SHD Composites and Trelleborg Applied Technologies. Manufactured by our team members, working at the Formaplex factory, we machined and sealed the mould, applying several layers of carbon fibre sheeting to the surface. The assembly was then debulked and bagged before being placed into an autoclave for strengthening. The use of composites has allowed us to drastically reduce weight, but maintain structural integrity and the safety of the vehicle. As a result, Helia can travel further and faster than anything previously produced by CUER.

Helia chassis on display

With improvements in battery technology, we can store surplus energy in lithium-ion cells, assembled into two battery packs. Compared to a top-range Tesla vehicle, our battery is a quarter of the size yet offers twice the travel range! By assembling the modules by hand into custom machined plastic carriers, with laser cut copper bus bars, we have optimised battery safety through precision engineering, creating the safest battery ever made by CUER. Quality control was top priority in the battery manufacture process: we used custom welding jigs, with CNC welding used to ensure consistent and reliable circuit contacts. In addition, careful software programming and a multimodal sensing system allows us to optimise the battery for output and safety, ensuring its reliability beyond the World Solar Challenge.

Chief electrical engineer working on Helia's high-capacity battery pack

Our rolling chassis has been designed in house with a comprehensive CAD model. Our team had designed and machined the parts with the help of Formaplex in Havant, Hampshire, before assembly back at base in Cambridge. A computer-based design approach meant that we could model the behaviour of the chassis and find the ideal geometry, while maximising ride quality and reducing weight. Supported by low rolling-resistance tyres from Bridgestone, the Helia chassis is the most durable and effective we have ever made.

Close-up of Helia chassis showing part of roll cage and rear suspension springs