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European COmpetitiveness in Commercial Hybrid and AutoMotive PowertrainS

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ECOCHAMPS (European COmpetitiveness in Commercial Hybrid and AutoMotive PowertrainS)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2018-04-30

The innovations from the ECOCHAMPS project have resulted in efficient, compact, low weight and cost effective hybrid powertrains for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles, which make European road vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers more competitive in hybrid vehicle technology.

The hybrid vehicle demonstrators developed in ECOCHAMPS were targetted to achieve a 20% powertrain efficiency improvement, and a 20% powertrain weight and volume reduction, with respect to the ‘best in class’ hybrid vehicles on the market in 2013, whilst having a maximum 10% cost premium over the conventional vehicle. It should be noted that specific targets, leading to progress beyond the state-of-the-art, vary per demonstrator vehicle in detail, due to the wide range of vehicles worked on.

End User Requirements (EUR’s) and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) have been defined to meet the expectations of the end users with the forthcoming developments and to generate a starting point for the developments within ECOCHAMPS. These requirements ensured the practicability of the developed vehicles. All vehicle evaluations have been supervised by ‘Golden Engineers’, independent technical experts from Ricardo or the Joint Research Centre (JRC), who assessed validation methods and the results compared to the targets.

Besides the optimal specification of the demonstrator vehicles based on the EUR’s, further cost reduction of the heavy duty vehicles in the project has been achieved by the introduction of the Modular System and Standardization Framework (MSF). The MSF is a modular pre-standard framework that, for the first time, recommends standards for hybrid electric drivetrain components for commercial vehicles. Standardisation requirements have been identified for each hybrid electric component developed in ECOCHAMPS and, in a cooperation between both passenger car and heavy duty vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, resulted in agreements on system voltage levels, interfaces (electrical, mechanical and communications), lifetime expectations, performance classes etc. The standards resulting from the pre-normative research performed in ECOCHAMPS are a sound basis for official standards to be published by Standards Organisations as well as a good starting point for new component developments. For this purpose, the MSF document will be available via the European Council of Automotive R&D (EUCAR), as well as via the project website:

The project achievements include the development of six new hybrid electric components based on the MSF and five powertrains, which have been demonstrated in five vehicles at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7. The results show that a significant CO2 reduction is possible, whilst offering valuable additional functionality to the end customer. Examples of results are the proven benefits of plug-in hybrid powertrains across different vehicle segments. For passenger cars, the use of 48V instead of high-voltage components is proven to be a viable alternative. Passenger car based battery modules and inverters have been applied in heavy duty vehicles, proving their feasibility and unlocking the potential of their volume of scale. And lastly, the ECOCHAMPS proposals for the standardisation of hybrid-electric components (MSF) show a relevant cost reduction potential for hybrid commercial vehicles.
The following specific results for each of the five ECOCHAMPS demonstrator vehicles can be given:
The class B vehicle, based on a FIAT 500X, is designed as a plug-in hybrid with an electric range of 25 km. The vehicle has two electric motors: the first is connected to the crankshaft of a small combustion engine, the second propels the rear axle via a fixed transmission. This configuration increases the powertrain weight and volume by only 5% compared to the conventional vehicle, whilst improving the powertrain efficiency compared to the 2013 state-of-the art hybrid by 20%.

The class C, 48 V hybrid demonstrator is based on a Renault Megane. The aim is to demonstrate a fuel economy comparable to a high voltage hybrid, whilst halving the powertrain costs by using 48V components. For this purpose, a downsized, turbocharged and friction-optimised combustion engine is combined with a 48V 15kW electric motor. A powertrain efficiency improvement of 40% is achieved compared to a conventional gasoline engine vehicle of the same type.

The medium duty commercial vehicle demonstrator is based on an IVECO Daily delivery cab. A gearbox connects the high-speed electric motor to the Cardan shaft leading to the rear axle, giving the vehicle an electric driving range suitable for last mile zero emission driving in city centres. Charging of the high voltage battery is flexible, with 400V DC or 230V AC being possible. The powertrain efficiency improvement is 30% compared to a conventional diesel powertrain, whilst a powertrain weight reduction of 27% is achieved compared to the alternative full electric vehicle.

The city bus demonstrator is based on a MAN Lion city bus. The main system components are modular to enable adaptation of a basic electric bus to customer requirements. To explore the possibility of reducing costs, the demonstrator uses powertrain components and battery systems originally developed for passenger cars. The series hybrid powertrain gives an 18% powertrain efficiency improvement compared to the state-of-the-art parallel hybrid city bus, whilst powertrain weight and volume reduction is limited to 8% and 10%, respectively.

The heavy duty demonstrator is based on a DAF XF truck, and has been fitted with a parallel hybrid electric powertrain. Similar to the city bus demonstrator, components from the high volume passenger car segment are used in the hybrid truck to reduce costs. This results in the voltage level of 400 V for the electrical architecture. A powertrain efficiency improvement of 17% compared to a 2013 conventional powertrain is achieved. The weight and volume of the powertrain is significantly reduced compared to the state-of-the-art heavy duty hybrid powertrain: by 17% (volume) and 13% (weight).

The ECOCHAMPS results were presented at over 80 events worldwide and in 29 publications or conference proceedings. A dedicated mid-term conference was organised in Aachen; three demonstrators were on view, over 50 people attended. The class C 48V demonstrator was shown at the 2017 EUCAR Reception and Conference. Euronews Futuris has broadcasted a news item on ECOCHAMPS, “Developing the next generation of hybrid vehicles in Europe”. Finally, close to 90 people attended the final event in Amsterdam.
The innovations demonstrated in ECOCHAMPS have shown an improvement beyond the state-of-the-art in terms of the cost/benefit ratio for hybrid powertrains. The know-how gained in the project will strengthen the European technological leadership in hybrid powertrain technology and system optimization, and as a result, increase the competitiveness of EU vehicle manufacturers. The technology will have a strong impact on CO2 reduction for road transport and, at the same time, have a positive effect on the air quality in densely populated urban areas due to the zero emission driving capabilities. The hybrid powertrain technology developed in ECOCHAMPS is a stepping stone towards commercial exploitation in the near future.