About 1 600 European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), mostly automotive industry manufacturers and suppliers, are working on developing cutting-edge hybrid, electric and fuel cell technology for vehicles. These businesses face many challenges, particularly since there is no common drivetrain platform for applications under development, giving an advantage to larger multinational vehicle manufacturers. The EU-funded project 'A platform power management system and low voltage drive train for hybrid and electric vehicles' (SAFEDRIVE) supported European SME electric vehicle manufacturers in penetrating the electric vehicle market. It worked on developing a scalable, modular electric drivetrain to suit different types of electric and hybrid vehicles such as small cars, trucks and utility vehicles. Envisioning a new motor design that requires lowering the voltage of direct current (DC) systems, SAFEDRIVE worked on a new split-Pi DC-to-DC converter and a power management/distribution system. The modular DC motor would eliminate the need for a gearbox, enabling direct drive operation through a drive shaft or as a hub motor. The project team developed an efficient bi-directional DC-to-DC converter in the drivetrain between the modular motors and power sources (super capacitor, lithium-ion batteries, motor-generator set). To achieve its aims, SAFEDRIVE brought together SME supply chain partners, associations and end-users from across Europe. The project partners investigated existing technologies and developed the software behind the control and power management of the drivetrain. This was followed by production of new circuit boards, design of the drivetrain component parts and integration into a prototype. Towards the end of the project the team was very close to completing a fully functional electric vehicle drivetrain with an innovative modular DC motor that produces the desired torque. All the project's results have been disseminated to stakeholders, laying the groundwork for a unified drivetrain that could boost SME results in the field. Thanks to this initiative, Europe has come one step closer to becoming a leader in producing cleaner vehicles.
Automotive industry, electric vehicle, hybrid, drivetrain, gearbox, transporter, direct current convertor, direct current motor