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Production-Ready Oriented Development of Radically Innovative Vehicle Electric drive

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PRODRIVE (Production-Ready Oriented Development of Radically Innovative Vehicle Electric drive)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2017-04-30

The need for more environmentally friendly and less fossil fuel dependent transport is the top priority expressed in strategic documents of the European Commission and other leading global institutions, including Chinese Government and United Nations. With the success of Tesla, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and other popular fully-electric vehicles, the public opinion on electric vehicles (EVs) is increasingly positive and there is a strong market pull. The EV market is growing by over 40% annually and the total number of battery EVs on global roads expected to reach 20 million by 2020.
Opportunities to make EVs more energy- and cost-efficient are rare. Based on more than 10 years of research, development, and sales in the field of EV propulsion systems, Elaphe Propulsion Technologies Ltd. has identified a great technological and business opportunity. The PRODRIVE project is a part of our longer, ambitious plan for mass production of in-wheel motors for upper-segment passenger cars.
In a rapidly evolving EV market, central electric motor powertrains are dominant in today’s vehicles. Compared to disruptive in-wheel motor direct drive propulsion, a central electric motor powertrain has several disadvantages:
- consumes over 20% of the design space in the vehicle;
- contributes over 10% of vehicle weight;
- introduces a large number of components;
- introduces around 15% of losses resulting in at least 15% of range reduction;
- does not offer redundancy in case of engine failure.

But...existing in-wheel motor solutions offer insufficient torques (up to 1000 Nm) and their electromagnetic (EM) and mechanical design does not allow integration of standard parts, such as friction brakes inside the motors. Using our patented EM topology, PRODRIVE L1500 is unique in providing high specific torques to produce 1500 Nm of torque with low motor weight. Production-oriented mechanical design of L1500 enables delivering production cost-effectiveness to increase market penetration.

In the course of the project the PRODRIVE team aims to:
- Build vehicles for testing and demonstrating the performance, safety, durability and cost-effectiveness of the PRODRIVE-based four-wheel in-wheel drive system.
- Achieve CE compliance for the PRODRIVE system through extensive validation
- Industrialize the PRODRIVE L1500 in-wheel motor with specifications that have the highest potential for high-end passenger cars
- Prepare a production plan for L1500 - 1500 Nm in-wheel motors
- Partner with automotive customers to build vehicles based on the PRODRIVE system

The result of the action is a commercialized product, ready for use by the vehicle manufacturers in their efforts to bring electric vehicles to the mass market.
In the first year, the PRODRIVE team has delivered the first vehicle, a converted BMW X6, powered by 4× Elaphe L1500 motors, controlled by Elaphe PCU (Propulsion Control Unit) with a total output of 6000 Nm, 440 kW and an overall impressive acceleration and cornering performance. Track testing has been performed to obtain results for vehicle dynamics fine tuning, acceleration measurements and system behavior logs. The vehicle has been presented in EV specialized events and featured in several videos that have been released with press statements and put online.
In parallel to the work on the demonstator vehicle, the PRODRIVE team has invested efforts into the preparation of the validation strategy according to APQP guidelines, performing the requirement analysis, DFMEA activity and standard and regulation study. The testing is well on its way with most sub-component testing completed, the motor design confirmed to be electrically safe and EMC compliant and the focus shifted to shock, durability and regulatory testing. In total more than 100 key requirements to guarantee performance and functionality and reach compliance with CE regulation will be validated during the project by performing more than 30 different tests on up to 6 fully functional samples. The testing results will be transparently prepared for customers in order to facilitate the customers integration of the PRODRIVE system into their overall testing strategy.
To ensure that the L1500 motor can be produced at the end of the project, the production process has been decomposed into processes and process steps and analyzed in detail with regards to the process optimum technology, process stability (PFMEA) and cycle times. Finally the key processes have been tested and optimizations have been performed to ensure that the required takt time at the end of the project (20') can be met. By analyzing the properties of the other Elaphe products and assembly machines, it was determined, that the production line can be optimized and adapted to facilitate production of several different motors, by adopting the SMED approach.
The activities on the PRODRIVE project have caught the eye of several different vehicle manufacturers resulting in negotiations to build vehicles based on the PRODRIVE platform. Since many potential partners and customers are interested in test-driving the demonstrator, Elaphe team is preparing an event in autumn where the PRODRIVE project will be presented and test drives organized. Overall progress in the commercialization direction is very good as the team prepares for the second year challenges that include building a sports car, testing the motor assembly on the production line, fully validating the motor and finally signing contracts for PRODRIVE powertrain integration with vehicle manufacturers.
By surpassing existing performance and reducing the complexity (number of parts) of the vehicles by putting the motors in the wheels, Elaphe in-wheel motors provide an undeniable appeal in maximized efficiency, minimized running costs, and exclusivity. Combining increased extreme torque accompanied by the most advanced safety options the PRODRIVE L1500 in-wheel motor will offer undeniable allure to end-customers. An incredibly spacious, new interior of the vehicles is made-possible by reducing the propulsion system to the inside of the wheels. Due to increased space, passengers will get to explore completely redesigned interiors with extensive options for customization, which were so far constrained by the propulsion system architecture. All this while providing one of the lowest energy footprints in the segment.
The economic benefits that the L1500 will bring to our target end-users are competitive EV prices due to manufacturers’ savings in space, weight and number of parts (min. 10% cost reduction). The price increase of a 4WD in-wheel propulsion system over central electric motor with mechanical transmissions is low (approx. 3000 EUR higher, EU-based manufacturing costs) and the price-difference is compensated by higher efficiency (reduced battery cost and lower energy use). The users will be able to experience top performance at an unprecedented energy-efficiency (0,0073 €/km, 5,01 km/kWh), up to 17% increased EV driving range (with identical battery capacity), lower total cost of ownership (annually 6500 EUR compared to petrol SUV and 550 EUR compared to central electric SUV after 3 years) which includes the powertrain maintenance costs (almost none).
The successful first year of the PRODRIVE project has reflected itself in the interest of the customers, partners and general public, since more than 100.000 people have come into contact with the project in one way or another.
PRODRIVE 4WD demonstrator with a total of 6000 Nm of torque using L1500 motors
PRODRIVE powertrain components including L1500 in-wheel motors, inverters, PCU and infotainment