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Teepee Electrical wired for growth after signing RBW deal

A Black Country electrical specialist has signed a major deal with Britain’s only manufacturer of hand-built EV cars.

Teepee Electrical, which has factories in Aldridge and Bloxwich, has extended its working relationship with RBW Electric Cars to become its official harness and wiring loom partner and a critical member of its Midlands dominated supply chain.

The deal will see it supply up to 40 different systems – featuring both low voltage complex wiring harnesses and HV cable assemblies – and 700 plus wires for each classic car built at the state-of-the-art production facility opened in Lichfield last year.

Engineers from the two companies have worked together to reverse engineer prototype systems and create detailed harness drawings, reducing manufacturing costs and developing components that are now ready for series production.

This has given RBW Electric Cars the confidence to scale up, with 334 of its unique Roadster and GT models already sold to global customers and dealers who want the refinement and features of a classic British hand-built car with all the modern comforts and a fully electric drivetrain.

Steve Clarke, Managing Director of Teepee Electrical, commented: “We are very proud of our British manufacturing roots, so it is a big honour to be named as an official partner for this exciting project.”

“There is nothing like RBW and it is very pleasing to see how founder Peter Swain and his team are so committed to designing and manufacturing the cars in the West Midlands, the original heart of the UK’s automotive sector.”

He continued: “We’ve worked closely to develop our manufacturing outputs on the complex cable assemblies and wiring looms that play a such a critical part in the electric drivetrain of the vehicles. With volumes expected to rise to hundreds of cars per year, this represents a great opportunity for us to grow too.”

RBW Electric Cars was inspired by Peter’s love of classic British cars and, following a chance conversation with his wife in 2017, the entrepreneur decided to see if he could find a way of putting electric drivetrains into these much-loved models.

He raised £5m from friends to fund his vision and, more recently, a £10m private equity injection has helped create a body and white plant and a brand-new factory on Britannia Way in Lichfield.

A European patent was secured in 2019 which was a big moment for the business, and this was followed by the start of production, a test drive by Top Gear’s James May and delivery of the first car to a UK client in January 2022.

“The interest in what we are doing is huge, with 334 cars already sold and our showrooms in Bermuda, Hong Kong and in London proving extremely popular. We’ve captured the imagination and now we need to deliver, which is why getting our supply chain right is so important,” added Peter Swain, who named the company after his daughters Rose, Becky and racing driver son Wesley.

“Teepee Electrical is the perfect example. We don’t want traditional automotive supplier relationships based purely on cost and constant demands. Instead, we prefer to develop long-term partnerships where we benefit from outstanding engineering expertise and there are mutual benefits throughout.”

He continued: “Steve and his team have already solved a lot of cable assembly and wiring harness issues for us, and we are delighted with the agility it has shown in meeting stringent deadlines.

“There is also a willingness to make things work and sometime go above and beyond to reach the desired outcome. This is very much a UK manufacturing success story, and we want Teepee, and others like them, to be part of writing the next chapter.”

RBW is currently putting the finishing touches to the launch of its first international operation in the US, which will act as a second manufacturing plant to support the anticipated rise in volumes.

The facility, which is in the heart of Virgina, could also house a dedicated wiring harness and cable assembly cell for Teepee Electrical.

Steve concluded: “We’ve been looking at the opportunity very closely and it does look like something we could and should do.

“This is a very exciting development for our business and gives us the chance to become a truly global expert in the supply of complex harnesses and wiring looms, creating more new jobs as we continue to harness the future!”

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