Skip to main content

Ultralight and ultrasafe adaptable 3-wheeler

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

Período documentado: 2018-06-01 hasta 2019-05-31

A new L category electric vehicle concept with 3 important innovative attributes is being developed:
1) A composite structure that can absorb three times more energy than typical metallic crash structures increases the safety of light compact vehicles. The composite structure is manufactured with a new process for an affordable introduction of these materials into L-category vehicles.
2) A wheel-track width varying mechanism (called PINCER) in order to increase stability at high speeds and minimize space at low speeds 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.
3) A new magnet-free drive-train with improved energy efficiency, as well as new solutions on system integration such as modular battery packs.

A car-like comfort and driving experience in a reduced space. The proposed solution will break the barriers for extended EV adoption in urban areas, i.e. vehicle capabilities and cost trade-off.
Main components of the project (except the vehicle itself) are designed, manufactured and ready to be integrated in the vehicle prototype, whose manufacturing has been started.

Vehicle’s exterior and interior designs have been finalised and all information required for their fabrication has been prepared. Other activities carried out for this aim:
• Market analyses and interviews, ergonomics analyses, development of different exterior and interior designs, and several mock-ups to physically check the new vehicle concept validity.
• Selection of all commercial components to be installed in the vehicle prototype.

Vehicle’s chassis (underbody) and structure (upperbody) have been designed and manufactured. Main activities carried out:
• Preparation of the new manufacturing process for the chassis profiles: pultrusion (a highly automated continuous process to produce constant cross-section composite profiles), in combination with out-of-die ultraviolet curing of the material, which increases the speed of the curing process and is able to manufacture 3D structural composite profiles on an easy and fast reconfigurable.
• Design of chassis and structure, in terms of structural safety, durability, NVH and vehicle architecture attributes. Chassis is mainly made out of pultruded fibre glass composite material. Structure’s material is aluminium.

The PINCER, its particular suspension and steering have been designed, manufactured and tested. The PINCER is a telescopic cylindrical friction mechanism with a ball screw actuator. The suspension design allows the translation of the whole suspension system when PINCER is activated. The steering system consists in a mechanical wire that transmits the torque from the steering wheel to the steering mechanism.

The compact electric powertrain has been designed and manufactured: a new transversal-flux switched-reluctance motor, a gearbox fully inside the motor rotor, modular power and control electronics with adapted design to the motor shape. The electric motor is switched-reluctant and has non-active free space at rotor interior part which is 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, contributes to a compact design of the power electronics and minimization of electromagnetic compatibility issues, and allows motor operation (derated) even in case of failure of several motor coils or electronic modules. Powertrain tests are finishing.

Another key concept of the WEEVIL project is battery interchangeability: 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. Two different battery packs have been designed and manufactured with their corresponding BMS specifically customized for WEEVIL project in order to prove the interchangeability concept. Tests of the first battery pack are finished, and those for the second battery pack are finishing.

A new Multibody Dynamics Simulation model for 3-wheelers has been entirely developed from scratch (no commercial software had it). The model has been used to compute the physical interactions among PINCER, chassis suspensions and vehicle structure.

Vehicle manufacturing and assembly have started. All commercial components to be installed have been acquired. Vehicle panels are being manufactured. And the electrification of the vehicle is under definition.
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 switched-reluctance 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.
weevil-m36-pictures.jpg