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Production-Ready Oriented Development of Radically Innovative Vehicle Electric drive

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PRODRIVE (Production-Ready Oriented Development of Radically Innovative Vehicle Electric drive)

Reporting period: 2017-05-01 to 2018-04-30

The market pull from the growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is putting pressure on car makers for launching new vehicle platforms. Opportunities to make a step change in mobility are rare, and based on more than 15 years of innovation and development experience in the field of EV powertrain systems, it's finally time to take in-wheel electric propulsion to the next level – a mass-produced propulsion solution. The PRODRIVE project is a part of a larger, ambitious plan for mass production of in-wheel motors for EVs.

Central-motor electric powertrains are defining today’s vehicle appearances and user experience. After more than a century of centralized propulsion dominance in vehicles, it’s time to copy nature and bring power to the wheels. Compared to disruptive in-wheel motor propulsion, a central electric powertrain has several disadvantages, related to controllability, packaging, weight, complexity, mechanical losses and lack of redundancy.

That said, existing in-wheel motor solutions in production today offer insufficient torques (up to 1000 Nm), are heavy or bulky, and their design does not allow integration of standard parts, such as friction brakes inside the motors.

Using Elaphe patented EM topology, the PRODRIVE L1500 in-wheel motor is unique in providing market-leading specific torques to produce 1500 Nm of torque with low motor weight.
Production-oriented design of L1500 enables delivering production cost-effectiveness, while the powertrain's intrinsic modular architecture facilitates lower vehicle development costs and shorter time-to-market by reducing the complexity of vehicles and enabling simple integration on existing and newly developed platforms.

In the course of the project, the PRODRIVE team achieved the following objectives:
- Creation of a demonstration vehicle for testing and demonstrating the performance, safety, durability and controllabilty of the PRODRIVE-based in-wheel drive.
- Performing key tests for conformity of the L1500 motor with ECE regulation for road use including EMC certification
- Preparation of the production version of the motor
- Securing contracts with multiple early adopters
- Industrialization of the L1500 motor production processes
- Primary steps in cost reduction of the L1500 in-wheel motor system, ready for consumer adoption.

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.

Learn more in the video at
The PRODRIVE team has delivered two mule vehicles, a full size SUV and a sports car, both powered solely by a set of four Elaphe L1500 motors, controlled by Elaphe PCU with a total output of 6000 Nm. The 440 kW peak power of the in-wheel powertrain offers overall impressive acceleration and cornering performance - using the independent wheel control potential to its fullest extent. Track tests were performed to fine tune vehicle dynamics, perform acceleration measurements and obtain system behavior data. The vehicle was presented at EV-specialized events and featured in several videos that have been released to the public with press statements.

The PRODRIVE team has invested efforts into the preparation of the validation strategy for the industrialized L1500 motor according to full APQP guidelines, performing the requirement analysis, DFMEA activity and including the standards and regulations. Testing was first performed on critical sub-assemblies, followed by mechanical design freeze and the necessary tests to confirm that the final design is electrically safe, EMC compliant and that it can sustain the maximum expected shock scenarios (up to 100G). The tests included all durability testing scenarios and regulatory tests to establish product rated values. In total more than 100 key requirements to guarantee performance, functionality and compliance with CE regulation were validated during the project.

To ensure that the L1500 in-wheel motor can be manufactured in larger production quantities, the production process has been decomposed into processes and process steps, and analyzed in detail with regards to the process optimal technology, process stability (PFMEA) and cycle times. The processes were implemented in practice and optimized to ensure required takt times. Analysis revealed that the production line can be optimized and adapted to enable agile production of several different motors, adopting the SMED approach. The production line layout was altered according to PRODRIVE lean production findings, to optimize worker utilization, reduce the number of possible worker errors and fatigue, and provide clean material and process flow in production. The key processes requiring increased automation due to cycle time and quality requirements were identified and the automated machines built and tested. Finally, tests and optimization of the demonstration line were performed for production of the L1500 motor and further PDCA cycles planned as a result.

The activities of the PRODRIVE project caught the eye of several vehicle manufacturers, resulting in contracts and contract negotiations to build vehicles based on the PRODRIVE-related platform. The PRODRIVE demonstrator vehicles serve as a tool to accelerate the discussions and achieve customer adoption of the solution. Taking into account the overall market development, the commercialization is progressing nicely, with additional focus on new mobility platforms with connected and autonomous capabilities.
In-wheel motors provide an undeniable appeal in maximized efficiency, packaging space, maneuverability, minimized running costs, and exclusivity. Combining extreme available torque, accompanied by the most advanced safety feature possibilities, the PRODRIVE L1500 in-wheel motor offers new possibilities to the market. Moreover, industrialized L1500 motor is part of a wider platform solution, which provides a building block for future vehicle development, which will be modular, software-defined and driven by-wire - a prerequisite for connected and autonomous mobility.

An incredibly spacious, new interior of vehicles is made-possible by moving the propulsion system solely to the inside of the wheels. Due to the increased space, passengers get to explore completely redesigned interiors with extensive options for customization, which were so far constrained by the propulsion system architecture.

Although having multiple motors instead of one central electric motor with mechanical transmissions on its own carries a minimal cost premium, the difference in cost of a 4WD in-wheel propulsion system over a centralized powertrain is low, and this difference is compensated by higher efficiency of the vehicle (reduced weight, lower battery cost and lower energy use). That means that in many cases the vehicle makers can deliver a vehicle that is faster-to-market, cheaper to develop and drives farther while costing no more than competing models. The users will be able to experience top performance at an unprecedented energy-efficiency, up to 17% increased EV driving range (with identical battery capacity) and lower total cost of ownership.

The PRODRIVE project successful execution is reflected in increased interest of customers, partners and the general public, as several tens of millions of people came into contact with the project in one way or another.