by Robert Ellison
A look at the Drift EV concept for electric vehicles.
Some 57% percent of greenhouse gases come from fossil fuels. Road transport is approximately 13% – trucks and buses being 7.5% and passenger vehicles 5.5%. Cars emit nitrous oxide – a precursor to tropospheric ozone – as well as methane and other pollutants. There are health impacts of driving fossil fuelled vehicles in cities. The solution for these emissions are technological innovations that work in the marketplace. In terms of passenger vehicles that means sexy – sex sells cars and always has. Mass marketing requires low costs. So what could the mass marketed electric vehicle of today look like? Something that can be all electric around town – and something you could take to Broom in Western Australia – or on the Dakar Rally – in the holidays.
The Drift EV Concept
A rear wheel drive street or rally car featuring a 3D printed ABS plastic and carbon fibre chassis, in-hub electric motors, dual carbon batteries and free piston linear generator range extenders. All of these technologies are at the edge of innovation in electrical vehicle development. Local Motors has manufactured a 3D printed car. Protean Electric has a high performance in-hub drive motor that eliminates all conventional drive train components. In a rear wheel drive configuration the peak power output is 200hp (150kW) – double that for a four wheel drive configuration. Power Japan Plus has a new battery with increased power density, a more usable power range, lower costs, greater thermal stability (eliminating complex cooling systems) and which is completely recyclable. DLR has a new ultra flexible fuel range extender that completes a brand new electric vehicle concept with all the range and reliability you need (and more) in a high performance and flexible, low cost package. Introducing a Local Motors concept that I have taken the liberty to rebadge as the Drift EV.
The Lotus Evora vehicle platform shown below is made of bonded aluminium and provides a basis for a number of vehicle configuration. A printable carbon fibre version is a cheaper solution. The design of the chassis might include aluminium sections to make it even lighter and to improve torsional rigidity if required or to engineer crumple zones.
The design is very much simplified using in-hub motors as it requires only the attachment of a wheel and suspension assembly. Change the suspension and wheel size for different models. It is suitable for a sports car configuration – but also crossovers and light commercial. Attach a printable body in a variety of formats. It is very simply designed around a battery pack.
Each of these puts out 75kW peak power (54 continuous) – with four wheel drive that’s 400hp peak power. A 2wd configuration results in a lower cost – and is what drift cars are all about. Indicative pricing for these motors is US$1600.
‘Protean Electric has designed and developed a unique in-wheel electric drive system for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric light-duty vehicles. The Protean Drive™ system can improve vehicle fuel economy, add torque, increase power and enable improved vehicle handling to both new and existing vehicles.
Protean Drive™ is a fully-integrated, direct-drive solution that combines in-wheel motors with an integrated inverter, control electronics and software – no separate large, heavy and costly inverter is required. Each motor packages easily in the unused space behind a conventional 18- to 24-inch wheel and can use the original equipment wheel bearing. The direct-drive configuration reduces part count, complexity and cost, so there is no need to integrate traditional drivetrain components such as external gearing, transmissions, driveshafts, axles and differentials.’
This Brabus E-class Mercedes conversion shows what’s possible.
Battery cost, reliability, safety and the environment impacts of rare earths and heavy metals have been a constraint on EV development. The dual carbon battery from Power Japan Plus promises to balance the energy storage equation. Superfast charging is a bonus.
‘For manufacturers the dual carbon battery offers a high-value, high- performance product with no switchover cost. For electric vehicle companies, production simplicity combined with great performance will unlock true mass-market electric vehicles.
The dual carbon battery slots directly into existing manufacturing processes, requiring no change to existing manufacturing lines. Even more, the battery allows for consolidation of the supply chain, with only one active material — carbon. Additionally, manufacturing of the dual carbon battery is under no threat of supply disruption or price spikes from rare metals, rare earth metals or heavy metals. Even more, the thermal stability of the battery eliminates the need for complex battery cooling systems. The dual carbon battery also fits any form factor.’
Free Piston Linear Generator Range Extender
The range extender is a fossil fuelled on board battery charger. The Chevy Volt uses a 1.4L petrol engine for instance. The free piston linear generator is the next step. It does away with most of the moving parts of conventional internal combustion engines. In the simplest configuration it consists of magnets mounted on pistons and a coil surrounding the cylinder. DLR and Toyota are both testing versions.
The DLR device is described by gizmag ‘The explosion of the fuel-air mix pushes the pistons on either side of the central combustion chamber towards the gas springs, which decelerate the pistons and push them back. The device operates at a frequency of 40 to 50 Hz and produces up to 35 kW of power.’
Technology offers the potential for a low cost electric vehicle with a top speed of 200km/hr and a range of 600km. The Drift is an idea whose time has come.
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