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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Porsche developing next-generation quad-motor electric powertrain

Porsche Engineering have revealed they are working on a torque control system for a next generation four-motor all-wheel-drive electric SUV powertrain that provides maximum stability and safety in every situation—without additional sensors on board.

What makes a four-motor powertrain desirable isn't so much more power, but more control. Each motor can be controlled individually and immediately, rather than relying on analogue mechanical differentials and inefficient hydraulic braking systems that don't react as fast or as precisely. Solid state digital control is good for safety and stability in inclement weather and for improved performance and handling in dry weather. Basically, it's the most high performance, responsive, adjustable and energy efficient torque-vectoring system possible.

An electric all-wheel-drive vehicle with multiple motors has a fundamental advantage over gasoline or diesel engines: The front and rear axles, indeed all four wheels, have their own electric motors, enabling extremely variable distribution of the drive power. “It’s almost as if you had a separate gas pedal for each axle or wheel,” explains Ulf Hintze of Porsche Engineering.

In a possibly related development, Porsche recently increased their ownership stake in Rimac to 15.5% following their 2018 investment for 10% of the business. Rimac developed a quad motor all-wheel-drive torque vector system for their Concept One hypercar.

The e-tron SUV concept unveiled by sister company Audi back in 2015 was originally intended to be powered by three electric motors. Unfortunately the dual motor rear eAxle didn't make it into the production version.

Press Release:

Thanks to variably distributable drive power, electric vehicles with separately powered wheels can remain stable even in critical situations— as long as the torque control reliably detects deviations from the target state and reacts immediately. Porsche Engineering has developed and tested a solution for e-SUVs that does precisely that. Without additional sensors— entirely through software.

It’s a situation that every driver dreads: a snow-covered road, a surprisingly tight corner, and barely any time to brake. With a normal vehicle, a dangerous loss of control is an all-too-real possibility. The rear could swing out, causing the car to spin and land in the ditch. Yet in this test, everything goes differently: The driver turns and the SUV steers confidently into the corner—without even slowing down. A glance at the speedometer (80 km/h is the reading) removes all doubt that this is no ordinary vehicle. The SUV being tested in this wintry environment is an electrically powered all-wheel-drive vehicle with four motors— one for each wheel.

Until now, this drive technology was seen only in Mars rovers, but now it has reached the everyday world: Porsche Engineering recently developed a torque control system for electrically powered series SUVs. It was truly pioneering work. “We had to develop a lot of it from the ground up,” says Dr. Martin Rezac, Team Leader for Function Development at Porsche Engineering. There was also an additional challenge: The driving characteristics had to be optimized exclusively through software. The Porsche engineers could not install any additional sensors and had to use the existing control devices. The task, in short, was essentially driving stability by app.

Purely electronic control of torque

An electric all-wheel-drive vehicle with multiple motors has a fundamental advantage over gasoline or diesel engines: The front and rear axles, indeed all four wheels, have their own electric motors, enabling extremely variable distribution of the drive power. “It’s almost as if you had a separate gas pedal for each axle or wheel,” explains Ulf Hintze of Porsche Engineering. In a conventional all-wheel-drive vehicle, there is just one engine at work, whose power is distributed to the axles through a central differential. As a rule, the torque ratio is fixed: one-third up front and two-thirds in the back, for instance. The ratio can, in theory, be changed, but additional mechanical gadgetry is required for that (multi-plate friction clutch), and it works rather sluggishly. In an electric vehicle, by contrast, the torque is purely electronically controlled, which works considerably faster than mechanical clutches. Every millisecond, intelligent software distributes the forces in such a way that the vehicle always behaves neutrally.

And Porsche Engineering developed just such a torque control system for all-wheel drive SUVs. The software can be used for different constellations and motor configurations—for other electric vehicle types as well, of course. In general, development begins with the base distribution, i.e. software that controls how much power is transmitted to the front and rear axle, respectively. For straight-line driving and balanced weight scenario, for example, a 50/50 distribution would make sense. If the driver accelerates, the software switches to full rear-wheel drive—or all frontwheel drive around a sharp bend. “This makes the vehicle noticeably more stable, even for the passenger,” says function developer Rezac. As the optimization is achieved entirely electronically, theoretically it would even be possible to offer the driver various different configurations: one mode for sports car sprightliness, another for smooth cruising.

The second task of the control software is to adjust the torque to the wheel speed. The algorithms follow a simple objective: All wheels are supposed to spin at the same speed. That’s easy to accomplish on a dry freeway, but it is considerably trickier when driving on a snowy mountain pass. If the front wheels encounter an icy patch, for example, they could—without electronic intervention—start spinning. But the torque control system detects the suboptimal situation immediately and directs the torque to the wheels that are turning more slowly and still have grip within fractions of a second. There is something similar in the world of combustion engines—the speed-sensing limited-slip differential, also known by the brand name Visco Lok. In this component, gear wheels and hydraulics ensure that no wheel turns faster than the others. But mechanical solutions are slow. In an electric SUV, by contrast, software assumes the role of the differential— with much swifter reactions and naturally entirely without wear.

The third and most important function of the torque control system lies in its control of lateral dynamics, i.e. the ability to neutralize critical driving situations like the one mentioned at the outset: a slippery surface, a tight corner, and high speed. An uncontrolled vehicle would quickly understeer in this situation. In other words, the driver initiates the turn, but the vehicle slides in a straight line without slowing down. The control software in the e-SUV immediately puts an end to understeering. In a left-hand turn, it would brake the rear left wheel and accelerate the right one until a neutral driving situation was restored. The system takes similar measures when oversteer occurs (rear end swinging out). The driver, meanwhile, ideally notices nothing of these interventions, because the torque control system acts very subtly and quickly. “It feels like driving on rails—an SUV behaves with the agility of a sports car,” says Hintze, summarizing the effect.

The observer module keeps watch

The driving state observer (shortened to simply the “observer” by the engineers) is involved in all intervention decisions. This software module continuously monitors a variety of factors: how forcefully the steering wheel was turned, how much the driver is accelerating, and how much the vehicle is turning around its vertical axis. The data is provided by a yaw sensor. This actual status is compared with a dynamic model of the vehicle that represents the target state under normal conditions. If the observer detects deviations, for instance due to oversteer or understeer, the software intervenes. If the vehicle is not turning into a corner as quickly as would be expected from the current steering wheel position and speed, individual wheels are selectively braked until the direction is back on line.

The same effect may be achieved by a conventional electronic stability control (ESP) system as well—but in an electrically powered all-wheel-drive vehicle, the safety system can do more: While a conventional ESP system only brakes, in an electric vehicle the individual wheels can be accelerated as well. This “pulls” the vehicle back onto the right track without losing speed. The intervention is also less jerky than in a hydraulic ESP system; the typical juddering familiar from anti-lock brake systems is omitted.

“The development of the vehicle observer was the biggest challenge,” says Rezac. The fact that so much development work was required here goes back to a fundamental problem: A car knows relatively little about its own state. It doesn’t know its own speed; it can only derive it from the speed of the wheels, which is difficult on ice and snow particularly. The observer therefore has to use additional information about the longitudinal and lateral acceleration in order to estimate the speed. The information regarding weight distribution is equally vague. While the suspension does capture the load on the individual wheels, even this information provides mere clues rather than certainty. If the shock absorbers report increased weight on the rear axle, for example, it could be due to the vehicle being parked on a slope—or simply being heavily loaded.

The data situation is decidedly meager. And because the client insisted that no additional sensors could be added, the SUV project called on the creativity of the software developers. “The observer has to estimate the vehicle’s important parameters,” explains Rezac. Some unusual data sources are brought to bear: The torque control system communicates with a sensor that detects the inclination of the car, for example, which is usually used for the automatic adjustment of the headlights.

The entire software package not only had to be developed, but calibrated in real test drives. And all that in a very short period of time: There were just two winters available in which the fine-tuning could be tested on a frozen river. It emerged, among other things, that the great advantage of electric motors—their rapid reaction times—sometimes resulted in undesired side effects. “The electric motors respond so quickly that vibrations can occur,” reports Hintze, who conducted the test drives with his team. In a few situations the software transfered the torque between the axles at increasingly fast intervals, which resulted in an audible revving of the motors. Thanks to close collaboration between the calibration team and the development team around Martin Rezac, however, they quickly managed to put a stop to this build-up through a modification of the software.

This detailed work is exactly where the challenge lies in such projects. As the software is to be used in a series vehicle, it has to be tested for every imaginable situation, no matter how improbable it might seem. If the sensor reports faulty data, for example, the torque control has to decide if it is still allowed to function even without the data source or should be switched off. Another hurdle was posed by the limits of the electric drive technology. It may be the case, for example, that individual e-motors cannot transmit the available battery power. The function developers had to take such limitations into account. “The control range collapses in this case,” says Hintze. Instead of 100 percent torque on one axle, perhaps only 60 percent might be available. And the torque control has to take that into account as well. But all involved are convinced: The pioneering work was well worth the effort, as electric vehicles with up to four motors will soon shed their exotic reputation. And many drivers will be grateful that they can drive through the snow as if on rails.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Karma Automotive Unveil 800 kW - 14,000 Nm SC2 EV Concept

Karma Automotive today launched its SC2 concept car during AutoMobility LA and the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. Featuring cutting-edge technology and design, SC2 is a bold demonstration of Karma's emergence as a high-tech mobility incubator, embodying world class luxury design and Karma IP.

"Karma's SC2 is a signpost to our future as a technology-driven brand. More than that, it previews our future design language, and is a thought-provoking expression of Karma's future Intellectual Property and product offerings," says Karma Automotive CEO Dr Lance Zhou. "Our open platform serves as a test bed for new technologies and partnerships, where we are to provide engineering, design, technology and customization resources others."

A striking full BEV concept, SC2 delivers an impressive 1,100 HP and advances from 0 to 60mph in under 1.9 seconds. Front and rear mounted twin electric motors deliver 800 kW peak power, with 10,500 lb.-ft (14,000 Nm) wheel torque. SC2 provides 350 miles of pure electric range, and is equipped with carbon ceramic brakes, a push-rod operated racing suspension and a Karma torque vectoring gearbox. An ultrasonic dynamic regenerative panel gives SC2 high performance handling and hand braking expected in an electric hyper car. The result is a vehicle as adept at navigating the tight curves and adrenaline-inducing straights of California's mountain, canyon and coastal regions as it suited to stun Hollywood's elite along Los Angeles's famed Rodeo Drive.

"SC2 presents an optimistic and bold message about Karma's future as we enthusiastically accept the challenge of elevating experience-driven mobility," says Karma VP, Global Design and Architecture, Andreas Thurner. "In creating SC2, we have enhanced the thrill of the open road through connected, interactive patented technology, beyond that of a traditional high-performance luxury vehicle."

Through Karma's one-of-a-kind Drive and Play® technology incorporated in SC2, automotive and gaming enthusiasts can re-live their previous drives through simulated driving experiences in their own vehicles. A triple high definition camera under the windshield and frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) lidar sensors provide 360 capture of the car in motion, within a 3D environment. Simultaneously, SC2's intelligent technology captures the entire driving experience in real-time; turns, braking, acceleration, light simulations, sounds, air temperature and audio playlist. After the drive, SC2's adaptive laser projector replays the journey while the vehicle is parked, while a mounted smartphone acts as the cabin's rear-view mirror; transforming SC2 into a driving simulator where the user can re-experience their drive and fine-tune their skills. Drivers can then share their Drive and Play® experience with others, and also stream drivers' routes from around the world within their own vehicles, experiencing driving simulations at world-famous roads and race tracks.

"SC2's extreme design and proportions are expressive of Karma's unique intersections of technology, performance and luxury," says Thurner. "We challenged ourselves to design a street-ready hypercar concept, using Karma's in-house IP and components. Now, through Karma's open-platform, SC2's technology can be integrated into a variety of future vehicles."

SC2 embodies Karma's distinct design identity in its stance and surface. A bespoke Vapor Gray hand-painted body draws inspiration from the brand's sleek, technology-focused future, while optimized aerodynamics leads the exterior design. Generous length from front axle to windscreen remains a distinct Karma design characteristic, while patented articulating hinge winged doors gently rising upward and forward to reveal a fiber optic headliner and stunning silhouette. Inside SC2, an I-shaped 120kWh battery is housed in the center tunnel beneath the dashboard and seats.

Long-range radars, cameras, and FMCW lidar sensors throughout ready SC2 for a safe and realistic autonomous future, while Karma's Ultra Sonic Sensor Stalk technology supports launch control and regenerative braking, lending itself to a harmonious blend between regeneration and friction brakes. Vehicle entry is through fingerprint and facial recognition sensors. Inside the cabin, intelligent technology enhances the user experience: Biometric seats and steering wheel provide both control and comfort, 3D audio creates individual sound zones for driver and passenger, and electro chromatic glass shifts from clear to opaque for privacy and light sensitivity.

Beyond its growing technology story, Karma's current momentum is also driven by a period of rapid product introduction, including the U.S. launch of its 2020 Revero GT luxury electric vehicle, to be followed by a new Karma global platform in 2021 and supported by a rapidly increasing retail footprint.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

BMW reveal 720 hp tri-motor “Power BEV" electric test vehicle

The BMW Group trial vehicle “Power BEV” presented during #NEXTGen explores what is technically possible. The vehicle is fitted with three fifth-generation electric drive units and has a maximum system output in excess of 530 kW/720 hp. This enables it to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in comfortably under three seconds.

The development team’s aim here was to build an experimental vehicle which impresses not only with its longitudinal dynamics but also in terms of lateral dynamics. Indeed, as drivers would expect from a BMW, it has been designed not only to be fast in a straight line but also to put a smile on the driver’s face thorough keenly taken corners.

To this end, the chassis and powertrain engineers worked together particularly closely to maximise the car’s performance. Key to its dynamic attributes is that the two electric motors at the rear axle are controlled separately. This brings e-torque vectoring into play, which enables maximum drive power to be translated into forward propulsion even in extremely dynamic driving manoeuvres.

The result is more effective and precise than with a limited slip differential, because actively targeted inputs are possible in any driving situation. By contrast, a limited slip differential always reacts to a difference in rotation speed between the driven wheels.

The drive system comprises three fifth-generation drive units, each of which brings together an electric motor and the associated power electronics and power take-off within a single housing. One is mounted at the front axle and two (a double drive unit) at the rear axle. Another notable aspect of this generation alongside its eye-catching power is that it is entirely free of rare earths. An electric motor of this type will make its series production debut in the BMW iX3. The iX3 will only have one motor, though, rather than three.

A current BMW 5 Series production model serves as the donor car for the Power BEV. Integrating a drive system of this type into a production car represents a serious technical undertaking, but it has been achieved here with absolutely no restriction in passenger compartment space. This makes it far easier to assess this drive concept alongside alternatives.

It has also allowed the engineers to look even more effectively into the possibilities opened up by two separately controllable electric motors at the rear axle with e-torque vectoring.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Volkswagen ID.R sets new electric record on the Nürburgring

Volkswagen has achieved another milestone in electro-mobility: The ID.R, powered by two electric motors, lapped the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in 6:05.336 minutes – faster than any electric vehicle before it. Romain Dumas (F) beat the previous record set by Peter Dumbreck (GB, NIO EP9) in 2017 by 40.564 seconds. With an average speed of 204.96 km/h, the ID.R once again underlined the impressive performance capabilities of Volkswagen’s electric drive. This 500 kW (680 PS) emission-free race car is the racing flagship of the future fully electric ID. product family from Volkswagen.

“The Nordschleife of the Nürburgring is not only the world’s most demanding race track, it is also the ultimate test for production vehicles,” says Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group. “The ID.R has mastered this challenge with great distinction and has completed the fastest emission-free lap of all time. As further proof of its impressive performance capabilities, Volkswagen’s e-mobility can now proudly call itself ‘Nürburgring-approved’. I congratulate the team from Volkswagen Motorsport and driver Romain Dumas on the third record for the ID.R”

Within just twelve months, Volkswagen Motorsport has already set three track records with the ID.R. On 24 June 2018, Romain Dumas achieved the absolute track record of 7:57.148 minutes at the renowned Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (USA). Just three weeks later, he achieved a new best time for electric cars of 43.86 seconds at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in southern England. The new record on the legendary Nordschleife has now been added to this successful run.

For Romain Dumas, who is a four-time winner of the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, the record lap with the ID.R is another highlight on his favourite track. “To be a record-holder on the Nordschleife makes me unbelievably proud,” says Dumas. “For me, this is the best and most difficult race track in the world. I want to thank the team at Volkswagen Motorsport, who have once again done a fantastic job. The ID.R was perfectly prepared for the Nordschleife and it was so much fun to experience the blistering acceleration and rapid cornering speeds.”

With the e-record on the Nordschleife, Volkswagen has once again demonstrated the enormous performance capabilities that come with electric mobility. “This impressive success story is the result of meticulous preparation by our engineers, the flawless work by the whole team during testing and of course a perfect driving performance by Romain Dumas,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets.

To prepare for the Nürburgring Nordschleife challenge, in just five months Volkswagen Motorsport gave the ID.R a complete makeover compared to the record outings on Pikes Peak and in Goodwood. “For this evolved version of the ID.R, the aerodynamic configuration was more strongly adapted to the highest possible speed, rather than maximum downforce,” explains François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Director. “With extensive test laps in the simulator and on the race track, we adapted the ID.R to the unique conditions of the Nordschleife, focussing mainly on chassis tuning, energy management and optimal choice of tyres for the record attempt.”

The VW ID.R now holds the second fastest Nürburgring time ever recorded, the fastest being set by sister company Porsche with a modified LMP1 919 Hybrid EVO with a time of 5 minutes 19.55 seconds at an average speed of 233.8 km/h (145.3 mph) - almost 30 km/h faster than the ID.R.

Where the 500 kW ID.R's top speed during the lap record peaked at 270 km/h, the 865 kW 919 EVO was able to regularly sustain speeds over 300 km/h with a peak of 370 km/h during his record-beating run.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Volkswagen ID. R uses DRS Formula 1 technology for Nürburgring run

Volkswagen has set itself a new challenge with the ID. R this year – the Nürburgring-Nordschleife instead of Pikes Peak. A race track instead of a hill climb. Full-throttle sections instead of hair-pins. Because of this, the fully electric-powered ID. R has been continuously developed with respect to its aerodynamics.

“Though almost identical in length at roughly 20 kilometres, the Nordschleife presents a completely different challenge for aerodynamics in comparison to the hill climb at Pikes Peak,” says François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Director of Volkswagen Motorsport. “In the USA it was all about maximum downforce, but because the speeds are a lot higher on the Nordschleife, the most efficient possible battery use is of much greater importance with regard to the aerodynamic configuration.”

On the Nordschleife, it is not primarily about downforce, but low drag as well. Furthermore, the air in the Eifel, which sits about 600 metres above sea level, is much denser in comparison to Pikes Peak, where the finish line is 4,302 metres high. “This results in completely different basic data for the measurements of the aerodynamic aids,” explains Hervé Dechipre, the engineer responsible for the ID. R’s aerodynamics.

As well as an adapted floor and a new spoiler at the front of the vehicle, the ID. R will also sport a newly designed rear wing. It will be much lower than the variant used at Pikes Peak, in order to provide less surface resistance to the flow of air. The new multi-wing rear of the ID. R will nevertheless produce high downforce in the medium-fast turns of the 73-corner Nordschleife.

A difference to Formula 1: saving energy instead of overtaking

To further reduce the drag in certain sections, the rear wing will deploy technology known from its use in Formula 1 – the so-called Drag Reduction System (DRS). In the pinnacle class of motorsport, DRS is used in order to facilitate overtaking by allowing for higher speeds. During the ID. R’s solo-drive, however, the opening element of the rear wing will be used exclusively to preserve the remaining energy reserves. “Between when the rear wing is fully deployed and when it is flat, the difference in downforce is about 20 per cent,” explains Dechipre.

DRS will be particularly significant when the ID. R reaches the ‘Döttinger Höhe’, an almost three-kilometre-long straight at the end of the Nordschleife lap. “With an activated DRS, the car requires less energy to maintain its top speed over the entire Döttinger Höhe,” says Dechipre. “The ID. R reaches its top speed quicker and with a lower use of energy.”

With the ID. R as the racing spearhead of the future fully-electric production vehicles from the ID. family, the high potential of electric drive is combined with the emotion and fascination of motorsport. In this respect, there are not only technical, but aesthetic parallels as well. Similar to the future production vehicles from the ID. family, the ID. R also requires comparatively few openings in the bodywork to allow cooling air to flow. “The electric motors operate with little cooling,” says Dechipre. “The ID. R therefore requires fewer air intakes than conventional race cars, which brings with it a great aerodynamic benefit.”

Tests in wind tunnel with models and the actual vehicle

As with the preparations for the record-breaking outing at Pikes Peak last year, Volkswagen has tested the ID. R’s aerodynamics in the wind tunnel – initially with a 1:2 model. The next step was to continue this detailed work with the original sized race car. “By doing this, we could simulate the movements of the ID. R when braking or steering, as well as the resulting changes in aerodynamics,” describes Dechipre.

In order to be able to test as many variants as possible of the aerodynamic components that were also constructed using computer simulations, Volkswagen Motorsport once again took advantage of 3D printing. As a result, particularly complex designed plastic vehicle parts (that undergo only minimal loads) can be made in a short time and with high cost savings. “A good example of this is the air deflectors in front of the rear wheel arch, which optimise the airflow around the rear wheel,” says Dechipre.

On the high-speed sections of the 20.832-kilometer Nordschleife, these can make all the difference to the ID. R’s ability to undercut the existing electric lap record of 6:45.90 minutes, and thereby lay down a clear statement as to the performance capabilities of electric drive from Volkswagen.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Audi e-tron climbs 85% gradient slope at Austrian downhill course

In late January, Audi sent its first fully electric-powered SUV onto the slopes where the world’s best ski racers battle for victory in the Hahnenkamm Race. The specially equipped Audi e-tron climbed the “Mausefalle” on the legendary “Streif”. With an 85 percent gradient, it is the steepest section of the spectacular downhill course.

With an 85 percent gradient, the “Mausefalle” is the steepest section of the famous “Streif” downhill course in Kitzbühel. To climb this passage, the Audi e-tron technology demonstrator was equipped with the triple motor powertrain originally shown when the e-tron SUV concept made it's debut in 2015.

With two electric motors on the rear axle and one electric motor on the front axle, (the production e-tron has only one motor per axle) the technology demonstrator achieved a total boost output of up to 370 kW and wheel torque of 8,920 Nm (6,579.1 lb-ft). This ensured full performance on the steep gradient. Audi also modified the software with respect to drive torque and torque distribution for the special conditions on the “Streif”. 19-inch wheels with spikes developed specifically for this driving event provided the necessary grip on snow and ice.

“Conquering an 85 percent gradient sounds impossible at first,” says Mattias Ekström, who was behind the wheel of the Audi e-tron technology demonstrator. “Even I was impressed with the way this car handles such difficult terrain,” adds the World Rallycross champion and two-time DTM champion. He considers this event to be one of his most extraordinary experiences.

For the greatest possible safety, the Audi e-tron technology demonstrator was equipped with a roll cage and a racing seat with a six-point harness. The vehicle itself was equipped with a belay, through which a safety cable was run. There was no pulling device.

Audi had a strong partner at its side for this project: the Austrian beverage producer Red Bull. The two companies are long-standing partners of the Hahnenkamm Race and conducted this event together. The Audi e-tron technology demonstrator also illustrated this collaboration with a special set of decals.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

BorgWarner Forms Cascadia Motion - Acquires RMS & AM Racing

BorgWarner has acquired two Oregon-based EV powertrain businesses. BorgWarner formed Cascadia Motion LLC to acquire assets and merge the operations of the companies – Rinehart Motion Systems LLC and AM Racing Inc. Cascadia Motion will explore the wide variety of electric and hybrid propulsion solutions for niche and emerging applications.

"Rinehart Motion Systems and AM Racing are two established companies in the speciality electric and hybrid propulsion sector," said Hakan Yilmaz, Chief Technology Officer at BorgWarner. "Bringing them together as Cascadia Motion will allow us to offer design, development and production of full electric and hybrid propulsion systems for niche and low-volume manufacturing applications."

BorgWarner have progressively acquired a portfolio of electric powertrain businesses including Remy in 2015 for $950 million and Sevcon in 2017 for $200 million.

Cascadia Motion will leverage the proficiencies of both companies into a start-up atmosphere designed to incubate new technologies. Rinehart Motion Systems brings expertise in propulsion inverters and controls for electric and hybrid electric vehicles in professional motorsports, motorcycles, specialty road cars, bus, and heavy duty sectors. AM Racing designs and manufactures single- and dual-core electric motors (based on Remy cores) and gearsets used in all these same market segments.

The new merged company will expand the company's ability to support a wide variety of customers with small scale projects, specialty products, and low volume manufacturing needs. In addition, BorgWarner's global production facilities can be utilized as Cascadia Motion customers grow to require high-volume production.

Friday, December 14, 2018

ZF Electric driveline to premiere in Formula E

The world's first racing series for all-electric Formula vehicles is growing steadily in popularity. Following in the footsteps of manufacturers like Audi, Jaguar and Mahindra, the fifth season will see BMW and Nissan joining the series with factory teams. Mercedes and Porsche are planning a factory-backed entry in season six.

New rules this year will usher in many changes. The Gen2 car will celebrate its debut on the track with double the battery energy storage capacity of its predecessor, the Gen1 car. This means it can complete the entire race without the mid-race car swap previously necessary. The Gen2 car has increased power output of 250 kW, accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds and has a top speed of 280 km/h. Venturi will be sending former Formula 1 drivers Felipe Massa (BR) and Edoardo Mortara (SUI) on the hunt for points this year. The German HWA Racelab team will enter the Formula E as a Venturi customer team and acquire its vehicles from Monaco-based Venturi. Accordingly, the electric ZF driveline will be in no less than four vehicles in the starting line-up for the new season.

Cooperation to be expanded

As part of their partnership, ZF has supplied the Monaco-based Venturi team with shock absorbers for its cars and developed a new transmission for season four. Mid-December will mark the first time Venturi takes to the track with a complete newly developed driveline from ZF. In addition to an improved transmission, the driveline also includes newly developed power electronics and electric motor.

"The speed of development in professional motorsports is extremely fast. Because the requirements for the overall system were unclear for such a long time, we had to make many short-term changes and build contingencies into our development work," explains Tobias Hofmann, Technical Project Manager Electric Axle Drive Formula E. "In the end, our success hinged on good, Group-wide cooperation. In addition to the E-Mobility division, ZF Race Engineering and ZF Advanced Engineering also played key roles in the development of the driveline."

Classic know-how meets next-generation technology

The entire system is the first electric driveline from ZF that has been developed purely for use in motorsports. In addition to extreme performance and torque density, the Formula E driveline has much greater efficiency than typically seen in series applications. It clearly exceeds most key performance data from season four. An entirely new concept has also been implemented for the interplay regarding the suspension of the electric motor and the transmission.

Because engine output is regulated in Formula E, power transfer is extremely important. "In order to stay competitive in the fight for best lap times, we needed to make significant changes to the transmission design. For the first time, this new transmission uses a single-gear concept as well as new materials, such as a metallic lightweight alloy for the transmission housing. The new concept has enabled us, once again, to reduce the transmission weight substantially; by nearly 40% compared to the previous season’s design," says Hofmann. "The new driveline has enabled a significant increase in efficiency as well."

The inverter, also newly developed, is ZF's first power electronics product with high-performance silicon-carbide modules. The casing for the inverter is made entirely of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. The intelligent control software is based on years of testing in volume production and has been specially adapted to the special demands of motorsports.

Norbert Odendahl, CEO of ZF Race Engineering, is looking forward to an exciting season: "In addition to our classic core motorsports products such as shock absorbers and clutches, we now want to use the new ZF electric driveline to highlight our competence in top flight motorsports and electromobility, particularly under the toughest of conditions. Formula E provides the optimum platform for us to do just that."

Thursday, December 13, 2018

BMW unveil ultra-fast 450 Kw EV charging station

BMW and industrial companies involved in the research project “FastCharge” yesterday presented the latest advancements in the field of fast and convenient energy supply for electrically powered vehicles. The prototype of a charging station with a capacity of up to 450 kW was inaugurated in Jettingen-Scheppach, Bavaria. At this ultra-fast charging station, electrically powered research vehicles created as part of the project are able to demonstrate charging times of less than three minutes for the first 100 kilometres of range or 15 minutes for a full charge (10-80 % State of Charge (SOC)).

The new charging station can be used free of charge right away and is suitable for electric models of all brands with the Type 2 version of the internationally widespread Combined Charging System (CCS), as is commonly used in Europe.

The research project “FastCharge” is being run by an industry consortium under the leadership of the BMW Group; its other members are Allego GmbH, Phoenix Contact E-Mobility GmbH, Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche AG and Siemens AG. “FastCharge” is receiving total funding of EUR 7.8 million from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. The implementation of the funding directives is being coordinated by NOW GmbH (National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology).

Fast and convenient charging will enhance the appeal of electromobility. The increase in charging capacity up to 450 kW – between three and nine times the capacity available at DC fast-charging stations to date – enables a substantial reduction in charging times. “FastCharge” is investigating the technical requirements that need to be met in terms of both vehicles and infrastructure in order to be able to tap into these extremely high charging capacities.

The basis is provided by a high-performance charging infrastructure. The Siemens energy supply system being used in the project enables researchers to test the limits of the fast-charging capacity demonstrated by vehicle batteries. It can already handle higher voltages of up to 920 volts – the level anticipated in future electrically powered vehicles. The system integrates both the high-power electronics for the charging connections as well as the communication interface to the electric vehicles. This charge controller ensures the output is automatically adapted so that different electric cars can be charged using a single infrastructure. The system’s flexible, modular architecture permits several vehicles to be charged at the same time. Thanks to high-current, high-voltage charging the system is suitable for a number of different applications, including fleet charging solutions and, as in this case, charging along highways. In order to link the system to the public power grid in Jettingen-Scheppach as part of the project, a charging container was set up with two charging connections: one provides an unprecedented charging capacity of max. 450 kW while the second can deliver up to 175 kW. Both charging stations are now available for use free of charge for all vehicles which are CCS-compatible.

The Allego charging station prototypes now presented use the European Type 2 version of the well-established Combined Charging System (CCS) charging connectors. This standard has already proved successful in numerous electrically powered vehicles and is widely used internationally.

In order to meet the demands of fast charging at high capacity, cooled HPC (High Power Charging) cables made by Phoenix Contact are used, which are fully CCS-compatible. The cooling fluid is an environment-friendly mixture of water and glycol, allowing the cooling circuit to be half-open. This makes maintenance comparatively straightforward as compared to hermetically sealed systems that use oil, e.g. in terms of refilling the cooling fluid.

One challenge was ensuring that the cooling hoses in the charging line were not squeezed when connected to the charging station, as would happen with a conventional cable gland. In the present instance this would impair the cooling flow and therefore cooling efficiency. This problem was solved by Phoenix Contact by means of a specially developed wall duct with defined interfaces for power transmission, communication and cooling as well as integrated tension relief.

Depending on the model, the new ultra-fast charging station can be used for vehicles fitted with both 400 V and 800 V battery systems. Its charging capacity automatically adapts to the maximum permitted charging capacity on the vehicle side. The time saved as a result of the increased charging capacities is demonstrated in the example of the BMW i3 research vehicle. A single 10-80 % SOC charging operation now only takes 15 minutes for the high-voltage battery, which has a net capacity of 57 kWh. This can be achieved on the vehicle side by means of a specially developed high-voltage battery combined with an intelligent charging strategy. The latter includes precise preconditioning of the storage temperature at the start of charging, temperature management during the charging operation itself and a perfectly coordinated charging capacity profile over time. The charging operation is carried out via a novel multi-voltage network on the vehicle side using a high-voltage DC/DC (HV-DC/DC) converter, transforming the required 800 V input voltage of the charging station to the lower 400 V system voltage of the BMW i3 research vehicle. The HV-DC/DC system also gives the vehicle reverse compatibility, allowing it to be charged at both old and future charging stations. A key factor in ensuring reliable operation is secure communication between the vehicle and the charging station. For this reason, standardisation issues relating to interoperability are also being investigated and submitted to standardisation bodies.

The Porsche research vehicle with a net battery capacity of approx. 90 kWh achieves a charging capacity of more than 400 kW, thereby allowing charging times of less than three minutes for the first 100 km of range.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Mercedes-Benz EQ silver arrow EV concept

At Pebble Beach in California, Mercedes-Benz is unveiling the Vision EQ Silver Arrow show car during Monterey Car Week, which is being held from 18 to 26 August 2018. The event attracts car aficionados and collectors from all over the world. The one-seater vehicle is also an homage to the successful record-breaking W 125 car from 1937. The paintwork in alubeam silver is reminiscent of the historic Silver Arrows which, for weight reasons, did not have a white paint layer. The interior is dominated by traditional, high-quality materials such as genuine leather, polished aluminium and solid walnut. The digital cockpit, meanwhile, points directly into the future: It includes a curved panoramic screen with back projection, as well as a touchscreen integrated into the steering wheel.

"Over 80 years ago, the historic Silver Arrows demonstrated that Mercedes-Benz was a pioneer when it came to speed thanks, among other things, to their streamlined shape," says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG. "The Vision EQ Silver Arrow draws on that legacy. Intended for acceleration and driving pleasure, it embodies progressive luxury and provides an insight into the future of our design. As a result, the show car drives the design idiom of our new EQ product and technology brand to the top."

The EQ brand is shaped by the avant-garde, distinct aesthetic of Progressive Luxury. This arises from the combination of a previously unknown beauty, the conscious clash of digital and analogue elements as well as the seamless merging of intuitive and physical design.

The exterior: sporty silhouette

With its clear, seamless design, the design idiom of the Vision EQ Silver Arrow is a brand-specific embodiment of the design philosophy of Sensual Purity. The streamlined silhouette of the approximately 5.3-metre long and approximately one metre shallow one-seater vehicle is slender yet sensuous.

The show car's body structure is made of carbon fibre. The multiple layers of paintwork in alubeam silver appear like liquid metal over the top. This concept represents the design polar opposites of "hot" and "cold". Functional attachment parts made of carbon fibre such as the front splitter epitomise the cool and rational aspect of this philosophy. The same applies to the front trim designed as a display, as well as the continuous lighting strip at the front. The side skirts also feature a lighting strip and the large, recessed EQ lettering in front of the rear wheels is illuminated blue as is characteristic of the brand.

Other highlights include the driver's cockpit, which can be folded forwards, and the partially free-standing multi-spoke wheels. The non-rotating hub caps and the partial trim on the wheels are other stylish and innovative highlights. The 168 spokes per wheel are made of lightweight aluminium and are painted a rose gold colour as is typical for EQ.

Offering exceptional traction and correspondingly fast acceleration, the Vision EQ Silver Arrow has slick 255/25 R 24 tyres at the front and 305/25 R 26 tyres at the rear. Attesting to the attention to detail, tyre partner Pirelli has helped to realise a star pattern on the tread.

The rear diffuser is reminiscent of motorsport. Two extendible rear spoilers act as an air brake by increasing the wind resistance when deceleration is desired.

Interior: between tradition and modernity

The interior of the Vision EQ Silver Arrow represents the values of Progressive Luxury. The design idiom combines timeless aesthetic appeal with futuristic visions.

When the driver's cockpit is folded forwards, it provides a view of the surprisingly wide interior. A contrast brings it to life: On the one hand, it uses traditional, high-quality materials. These include saddle brown genuine leather on the seat and steering wheel, polished aluminium throughout the interior and solid walnut with darker coniferous wood pinstripes on the floor. This creates a bridge back to the historic racing cars of the Silver Arrow era. On the other hand, modern, high-tech solutions such as the large projection surface for the panoramic screen and innovative user experience solutions such as the virtual race option (see below) represent the EQ's typically visionary character. This contrast is an intentional merging of past and future.

The sitting surface and backrest have an unusual pattern which is aligned with the seat contour: Stars have been stitched in with the help of laser engraving. AIRSCARF neck-level heating is integrated into the seat. A four-point seatbelt inspired by motorsport holds the driver securely in place. The pedals can be adapted to the driver's specific stature, with a controller located on the seat for adjusting the pedals.

To match the exterior paint finish in alubeam silver, the side walls of the interior are covered in a luxurious, grey suede.

Double screen and virtual racing

The driver of the Vision EQ Silver Arrow is encompassed by a large panoramic screen on which a 3D image of the surroundings is projected from behind. As a pointer to future possible charging technologies, the lane of the roadway on which inductive charging is possible is superimposed onto the screen.

With the help of artificial intelligence it is possible to engage in a virtual race against historic or present Silver Arrow racing cars. For this a virtual racetrack is superimposed onto the real roadway on the panoramic screen and the driver sees their opponent either ahead of them or behind them as a "ghost". The Virtual Race Coach assistance function helps you become a better driver by giving instructions during the race.

There is also a touchscreen on the steering wheel. The driver can use it to select programs such as Comfort, Sport and Sport+, which offer different driving characteristics. Sound settings can also be configured here: Choices include the sound of a current Formula 1 Silver Arrow or a Mercedes-AMG V8 engine.

Emission-free drive system

The Vision EQ Silver Arrow is conceived as an electric vehicle. This soundless Silver Arrow has an output of 550 kW (750 hp). The thin rechargeable battery in the underbody has a useable capacity of approx. 80 kWh and enables a calculated range of over 400 km according to the WLTP. Side air vents help to cool the battery.

The EQ concept vehicles: outlook for electric cars in all segments

With the Concept EQA, Mercedes-Benz demonstrated how the EQ strategy can be translated to the compact class at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. Featuring one electric motor on the front axle and one at the rear, this electric athlete has a system output of over 200 kW. The drive characteristics can be altered by varying the permanent all-wheel drive's front to rear torque distribution. The Concept EQA shows which drive program has been selected on a unique virtual radiator grille.

At the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, smart presented the smart vision EQ fortwo – an electric and autonomous vision for highly efficient and flexible local public transport. Autonomous and electric-powered, the smart vision EQ presents a consistent concept for the future of urban mobility and the future of car sharing. The vehicle picks up its passengers directly from their chosen location and has no steering wheel or pedals.

The Concept EQ, unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, heralded the new EQ product and technology brand – a concept vehicle with the looks of a sporty SUV coupé that pre-empted many elements of the Mercedes-Benz EQC, which comes onto the market in 2019.

The inspiration: the world record-breaking vehicle from 1937

The role model for the Vision EQ Silver Arrow is the W 125 twelve-cylinder, record-breaking car which Mercedes-Benz built in 1937 on the basis of the Grand Prix racing car.

For the new body in 1937, Mercedes-Benz was inspired greatly by the aviation industry: Examples include the recommendation from the development departments of the aircraft factories of Ernst Heinkel and Willy Messerschmitt to shorten the front overhang and to make the front more rounded. The front was also extended further down and ended more steeply at the tip. As desired, this reduced lift on the front axle. A longer and more strongly raised rear reduced lift on the rear axle. One striking feature – and inspiration for the designers of the Vision EQ Silver Arrow – was the round cockpit glazing modelled on a drop of water in terms of outline and cross-section.

With it, Rudolf Caracciola achieved 432.7 km/h on the A5 autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt based on the average speed travelling there and back. This speed record on public roads stood until November 2017.