Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

WEEVIL Report Summary

Project ID: 653926
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.4.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WEEVIL (Ultralight and ultrasafe adaptable 3-wheeler)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The WEEVIL project is developing a new electric vehicle concept with three important innovative attributes. WEEVIL's first achievement will be to radically increase the safety of light compact vehicles by incorporating a composite structure that can absorb three times more energy than typical metallic crash structures. The composite structure will be manufactured with a new process for an affordable introduction of these materials into L-category vehicles. Secondly, WEEVIL has a wheel width varying mechanism in order to allow adaptation to different speeds: wider at high speeds for stability, narrower at low speeds for space optimization and parking. The vehicle needs less than one third of the space required for a conventional car, so this feature will drastically reduce the time required to park the vehicle and the space reserved for parking in cities. And, finally, a new drive-train with improved energy efficiency will be incorporated, as well as new solutions on system integration such as modular battery packs.
The proposed solution will break the barriers for extended EV adoption in urban areas, i.e. vehicle capabilities and cost trade-off. A car-like comfort and driving experience in a reduced space will be pursued. The consortium has all the necessary engineering centres and companies to successfully develop the concept and exploit the results at the end of the project, including an electric L-vehicle manufacturer.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Based on feedback from several market analyses and interviews carried out several exterior and interior design ideas were developed as well as several mock-ups were carried out in order to physically check the concept validity. Regarding technological developments, energy efficiency, in both fuel and electric cars, is one of the most important priorities of the automotive industry. Lightweight materials, such as fibre reinforced polymer composite, are in the strategic agenda of all OEMs. Moreover, the recent concerns about road safety have led to increase the importance of the crashworthiness, demanding new materials and structures with higher impact energy absorption capabilities and damage tolerance. An out of die UV cured pultrusion system has been developed to overcome productivity limitations for extensive use of composite materials in automotive structural applications.
A compact electric powertrain consisting of three main components is also being developed with an integrated design that reduces its volume: a new transversal-flux switched-reluctance motor, a gearbox partially inside the motor rotor, modular power and control electronics with adapted design to the motor shape and attached to it. The belt-transmission from the gearbox output to the wheel, and the rear arm supporting the wheel are also integrated in the same sub-system. The electric motor is switched-reluctant and has non-active free space at rotor interior part which can be used to integrate the gearbox. The power electronics module has been designed from scratch because it has a modular architecture to control each motor pole independently, which mainly reduces components size and wire section and length and contributes to a compact design of the power electronics and minimization of electromagnetic compatibility issues.
Another key concept of the WEEVIL project is battery interchangeability, that is the possibility to equip the vehicle with different batteries that may become available on the market, choosing between technologies, performances, producers and cost. The whole vehicle has been designed to allow an easy replacement of the battery, without compromising on safety and dynamic performance optimization. An electronic control unit is integrated to monitor the operating conditions of the battery, to ensure proper usage, and to provide to the vehicle and the user the most relevant information (remaining energy, critical conditions, available power). Taking in account the different chemistries of the selected cells, tests are being carried out on 2 BMS-s specifically customized for WEEVIL project.
The last particularity of the WEEVIL vehicle is the PINCER: an active system that allows increasing or decreasing the vehicle’s front axle width. At high speed, the front axle is wider to enhance dynamic stability. At low speeds, the axle is narrower for parking. With the aid of PINCER system, WEEVIL vehicle needs only one third of the space required for a conventional car to be parked. An advanced version of PINCER has already been designed.
Finally, a new Multibody Dynamics Simulation model (MBS) for 3-wheelers has been also entirely developed from scratch, as no commercial software had libraries for it. This model is being used to compute the physical interactions among PINCER, chassis suspensions and vehicle structure.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Regarding wide-scope impacts, the contribution of WEEVIL is relevant to:
(i) Reduction of emissions, noise, congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption: WEEVIL is being conceived as an small but attractive mobility solution that would push the adoption of EV-s in Europe. WEEVIL is also aligned with a more efficient use of natural resources: (a) reducing dependence on fossil fuels (in line with all EV initiatives), etc.; (b) a lesser use of magnets in the drive-train of the vehicle thanks to the new transversal-flux switched reluctance motor under development. Also battery size (and this lithium and other material use) can be rationalized by providing some flexibility to the customer to choose the appropriate range. Regarding energy efficiency, the new developments on the drive-train along with the light vehicle chassis will further enhances fuel consumption savings.
(ii) Enhance the competitive position of the European industry: the new composite structure is oriented to having a unique low-cost production that could extend its use to regular vehicles rather than being focused only on premium cars. This will allow a strong position to extend the market of automotive chassis structures. Also, due to the lack of magnets, the new SR motor has the potential to provide an alternative EV motor topology, especially for European and US motor manufacturers that might be more prone to suffer the lack of consistent magnet supply in upcoming years. Finally, the interchangeable batteries open the gate for a new philosophy around the development of EV-s. It should be noted that the cost of the battery pack can be around 25-30% of the vehicle cost. Providing open possibilities for the energy pack makes it possible to reduce costs by negotiating the best prices for each application with suppliers.
(iii) Social impact: support for EV adoption and its consecutive reduction of emission has direct impact over the citizens’ health and directly impact on social costs such as health care. Reduction of noise is also another important factor. However, the most important advancement of WEEVIL is related to its parking ability as it requires less than one third of the space required for a conventional car. Regarding safety, EuroNCAP has recently found severe safety problems in commercial quadricycles. Even though the tested L-category meet legislative standards, EuroNCAP concluded that these vehicles lack the minimum safety equipment which has become commonplace on passenger cars sold in Europe. It is expected that the new WEEVIL structure will notably increase this safety level.

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