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How Coventry is reclaiming a place on the automotive map

Like many of the best businesses, it was founded in a garage – Molloy’s, to be precise – in 2015. Shaw, a former designer at Toyota in Japan, and Molloy and Toal, both prototype engineers, wanted to create an automotive design studio for designers and engineers to collaborate. Their first commission was the Nio EP9 electric supercar, on which they were design development partners.

On the day we visit, there’s a full-size interior evaluation model in the studio for another client, Naran Automotive, which is developing a front-engined V8 supercar. It’s made of recyclable corn starch and has been printed on a giant 3D printer.

“We’re trying to accelerate the design process for all our customers so that within two weeks they have an interior they can sit in,” says Molloy.

As an example of the progress they’re making, he shows us a fully trimmed, full-size interior model that was commissioned by a major car maker.

Vital’s secret weapon is its 15-strong arsenal of 3D printers. Meanwhile, the team is busy building what will be one of Europe’s largest: a whopper of a thing able to print complete bumpers. Remarkably, Vital is entirely self-funded. “We reinvest every penny in the company,” says Molloy. Given its ambition, I wonder if they’re offering shares…

RDM Group – Miles Garner, sales and marketing director

From Vital Auto, it’s a natural next step to visit RDM, an equally enterprising company located on the site of Coventry’s old Humber car factory. It was founded in 1993 by David Keene, former head of Rover’s electrical division, who started out making wiring looms in his spare room.

RDM still makes these but has moved into other areas, too, ranging from specialist trim production to semi-autonomous trains. Through a dedicated firm called Aurrigo, it’s also at the forefront of autonomous vehicle design and development.

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