European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

Advanced Electric Vehicle Architectures

Final Report Summary - ELVA (Advanced Electric Vehicle Architectures)

Executive Summary:

Sustainable mobility is one of the grand societal challenges and thus a key topic for the automotive industry, which believes in the on-going demand for individual mobility. In order to meet increasingly strict emission targets and growing traffic in urban areas, electro mobility is a promising way. While the second generation of electric vehicles has been introduced into the market recently, most of the models are still based on conventional vehicle models and their architectures. The new electric components however suggest new freedoms in design, while at the same time leading to new questions. The ELVA project was started in late 2010 to work on exactly these freedoms and questions.

In its first phase, the project partners were thus investigating technology options, which were regarded as being realistically available from 2020. While these were rather easy to identify, the expectations and requirements of potential future customers were difficult to find and to understand. Based on an analysis of several publications and studies as well as internal data and, not to forget, a pan-European customer survey, it was concluded that the expectations were very close to what conventional vehicles are offering at the moment. This is particularly the case for the autonomous range.

Based on the profound technical knowledge and better understanding of customer needs, a creative phase began. This was characterized by two routes, one being driven by the project partners themselves, while the other one involved external institutions. A public design contest was launched that brought advanced designs and architecture how they are seen by expert designers and other interested persons. In the end, three designs were awarded and used for the further development. From the internal route, a comprehensive collection of technical ideas on different levels emerged, that was a useful input to the detailed concept development in the following.

Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF), Renault and Volkswagen were each responsible to develop a vehicle concept meeting the requirements and expectations that were analysed in the beginning while taking into account the awarded designs and using the conceptual ideas of all partners. Within this second phase of the project, advanced vehicle concepts were virtually developed into a level of detail that allowed in the end an assessment against all key criteria of importance for a vehicle development. In two development loops, the concepts were brought to a level that is at least equal than comparable conventional vehicles of the same class. It must be stated though that the architecture of these three concepts is not radically different compared to conventional vehicles, but uses well-established approaches were they showed to be useful.

The results of the final assessment, which also included a life cycle assessment, were summarised in a collection of documents regarding design practices, rules, freedoms and constraints especially concerning electrical components, body and chassis of electric vehicles. This collection is publically available as future reference for all institutions and persons interested in the conceptualization of (electric) vehicles. This is in line with the very open dissemination strategy the ELVA partners have followed since the beginning of the project. All findings and achievements have been actively published towards the research community and public and consequently are used as a reference by many initiatives now.

For a successful establishment of European market for electric vehicles – in line with the European Green Cars Initiative – further scientific and technical research is required. The ELVA project has shown the prospects of increased modularization in many parts of the electric drivetrain. This is particularly the case for electric motors and obviously the battery. It is recommended to catch up the basic ideas of the ELVA project, which were also discussed with projects such as Easy Bat, OSTLER and SmartBatt, within the next work programme. On a higher level, urban mobility and its interaction with dedicated vehicles should be addressed. It is not to forget that several components of the electric drivetrain require more research while it remains at the same time a grand societal challenge to decrease injuries and fatalities in traffic further.

The ELVA project has looked into many aspects of future individual mobility and may serve the research community as a future reference.

Project Context and Objectives:

The joint European research project ELVA brings in line technology options and customer expectations for third generation electric vehicles. The objective was to develop innovative vehicle architectures fully exploiting freedoms in design that result from the electric drivetrain. The first phase of the project comprised deep technology and market forecasting as well as an open design contest for future electric vehicles. This included particularly the in-depth analysis of customer requirements based on studies and OEM-internal information, but also on a large-scale public customer survey. In the second phase, these requirements were brought in line with technology options by innovative architectures focussing on urban EVs. Three detailed vehicle concepts have been virtually developed and assessed with regard to several key requirements such as energy efficiency, material application and safety. To complement the expertise within the consortium a public design contest was organised, allowing designers to present their ideas for future urban mobility. The resulting dedicated vehicle concepts were finally presented and discussed in the context of a two-day event attended by exerts from industry, research, and higher education.

Project Results:

The first phase of the project offered a wide overview of technology options and customer expectations for 2020 and beyond. Innovative concept ideas and designs were developed on this basis applying a process for accelerated architecture development. This represents a valuable contribution to the challenges the automotive industry is facing during the development of future electric vehicle generations. The forecasting of technology options (e.g. batteries and electric motors) as well as improvements

expectations remains a challenge. On the technology side, substantial improvements especially regarding battery capacity, size and weight are expected. Customer requirements however are very much linked to the use cases current conventional cars are offering, especially when it comes to the desired range. This has a clear impact on future electric vehicles, but cannot be fully predicted yet since the first electric vehicles have just entered the mass market. ELVA is the first European project which is dedicated to specific vehicle architectures for urban EVs. Besides the full exploitation of technology options, a convincing design is crucial for the success of a vehicle model. Consequently, a design contest was drawn by the project. Designers were invited to share their ideas about future EV design and see them incorporated in the ELVA concepts. The second phase was characterised by the core technical development of three virtual vehicle concepts that use a unique architecture dedicated for their purpose and design. Each concept was lead by one of the involved OEMs, which were Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF), Renault and Volkswagen. They were supported by the other project partners, each focussing on one of their core competences. For instance, Continental supported all three concepts with an electric drivetrain layout and dimensioning. The models have then been used for the virtual assessment of key requirements such as energy efficiency, safety, ergonomics, thermal management etc. Results show that the innovative architectures offer the same level of performance with regard to e.g. payload, ergonomics and safety, while the energy efficiency is increased compared to a conventional vehicle in the same class. The development and achievements of the project have been very actively disseminated by a high number of publications and presentations, not to forget the public ELVA website. The public reports, especially regarding the “lessons learned”, allow interested experts (and non-experts such as vehicle designers) profiting from the results of the project.

Potential Impact:

Three different vehicle concepts intend to best meet customer requirements while at the same time fully exploiting the technology options. As it is still very difficult to describe customer requirements for 2020 and beyond, the concepts are addressing slightly different user needs. This is in line with the strategies the different vehicle manufacturers are following today (“brand DNA”). The achievements of the project are expected to have significantly increased the knowledge within all involved organisations, but also interested parties outside of the consortium. Due to the high involvement of industrial partners, it is expected that the generated knowledge will be fed directly into the development process of future vehicle generations. A direct follow-up use is given by the FP7 projects of the so-called SEAM cluster which are basing their research partly on the structural concepts developed by the ELVA project. They will focus on lightweighting and increasing of safety levels for future (electric) vehicle generations.

List of Websites:


Main contact: project coordinator (details see above)