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Advanced Structural Light-Weight Architectures for Electric Vehicles

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The urban electric car of the future

Electric cars represent a significant step in the right direction when it comes to a greener automotive culture in Europe. Recognising this, the EU is funding research into unique engineering solutions to increase the feasibility of these vehicles.

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The automotive industry is responsible for 7 % of employment in Europe's manufacturing sector and contributes to 3 % of its gross domestic product. Electric vehicles represent the future of this economic pillar, but several design optimisations are still needed. This task has been assigned to the ʹAdvanced structural light-weight architectures for electric vehiclesʹ (E-LIGHT) project. The architectural challenge is to create an ergonomic, light-weight vehicle that will still protect its passengers against collisions. A lower weight and better aerodynamic performance will ensure that the car uses less power and can thus travel further on one charge. To achieve this, the project focuses on the use of advanced metallic materials, modular components and other manufacturing technologies. Aluminium was found to be the best candidate here, and recyclability and reusability of components were major considerations. The aim is to create a vehicle no heavier than 600 kg (without batteries) and with an electric motor power output of 25–35 kW. There should also be space for four passengers and the design should be as close as possible to a Class A vehicle. The project team concluded that the most suitable configuration of future urban electric cars is a four-seat layout with a rear wheel drive axle and a central battery. The results of the project will be summarised in documents outlining safety aspects, general design guidelines, as well as testing procedures and recommendations. This will assist small and medium-sized enterprises in the design of electric cars, allowing them to remain competitive in Europe's changing automotive industry.

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