The Project PiA (paradigm change in propulsion technology) aimed to explore innovations contributing to the facilitation of the use of light battery, electric vehicles through new approaches.
Within the last 3 months a physicist, an electrical engineer and 3 mechanical engineers have dealt with solutions that have been non-existent in the motor industry so far. In addition to various considerations and calculations, a Delphi survey was carried out to obtain the opinion of experts concerning the feasibility of approaches and new suggestions. Last but not least, users were interviewed with regard to the acceptance of new usage paradigms. To further increase the degree of innovation, the ground-breaking approaches were not only analysed but also further modified and combined.
The research resulted in solutions ensuring that:
- -Narrow, ultra-light vehicles do not turn over during the Elk-test, by shifting the batteries.
- -Batteries have on average a higher operating temperature in winter and that the vehicle therefore has a longer operating distance, due to the usage of environmental temperature/solar energy/waste heat and heat storage.
- -Through an intelligent use of solar radiation, the inside of the vehicle will be kept warm in the winter without reducing the range, using electrical heating.
- -The range of the vehicle will be extended through assisting the driver, e.g. when accelerating or braking.
- -Based on predictive control, the driver is given support allowing them to be more energy efficient and thus extending the distance.
- -Electric machines can be built lighter and utilized better (higher power per mass unit) through new cooling and operating concepts.
The innovations were sorted according to evaluations and chronological appearance. Besides positively evaluated measures, possibly appearing consecutively, other measures exist and sometimes their market entry was presumed to be later, despite a high rating. Such measures shall be monitored at first. With regard to the rating, a lot depends on the markets envisaged. Certainly, in Europe, Japan and the US high demands are put on safety and comfort, whereas in the emerging markets different criteria prevail which are better matched by light battery electric vehicles.
Especially measures that dispel reservations against electric vehicles or are indirectly related to them need a higher input of resources during development. Thus, otherwise less attractive ideas gain new importance.
Due to their high investment costs, conventional electric vehicles will not achieve a high market penetration medium-term. Cost calculations during the project have demonstrated clear advantages for modular concepts and new interesting ownership models result from it too. However, it is also evident that particularly open modular concepts breach the interests of established OEMs. Latest announcements of OEMs to offer different ranges and adding modularity to the battery system indicate that mobility costs for citizens will drop despite zero emission.
The project has pointed out a multitude of interesting possible developments that could be best extended in the form of a light vehicle cluster. Light vehicles have weaker requirements due to smaller masses to be manipulated with modular concepts and also the demands of the customers are lower. Whilst producers possess the know-how to advance the development in all areas addressed and prototypes like the CLEVER have been seen, user acceptance of light vehicles requires a structural change of the play in road transport – where heavier vehicles have a better standing. To allow a faster production of emission free urban vehicles, the appropriate legal and economic framework needs to be created guaranteeing safety of light battery electric vehicles. Due to the fact that in many areas the need for action arises anyway, because of the emission problem, a synergy does exist between environmental and industrial policy supporting the introduction of city, electric vehicles.