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Electric Vehicles Research
Posted on May 30, 2011 by  & 

Goodbye 100 mile range electric vehicles

150 miles range is the new benchmark for affordable range-sensitive electric vehicles: the 100 miles range of today's pure electric vehicles will quickly become an embarrassment. That is particularly true of EVs for on-road and off-road outdoor use and pure electric aircraft.
This new achievement comes from a host of minor improvements. They include improved vehicle electrical efficiency and aerodynamics, pancake batteries with simpler cooling requirements, lighter weight motors, cheap labour and automation enabling more powerful batteries to be viable.
Then there is better aerodynamics and body weight reduction, sometimes by use of carbon fibre and other structural composites. Not all these benefits apply to any one vehicle however - there is scope to cross fertilise best practice, creating even greater improvements.
The new 150 mile norm predates the expected improvement of lithium-ion battery energy density of a factor of three over the next decade, giving a threefold range improvement. This may require third generation solid state traction batteries such as lithium sulphur and lithium air that are not yet providing the life or safety for manned vehicles in the opinion of most of the manufacturers of such vehicles.
In fact, the second generation lithium-ion batteries, now almost universally used, improve cell stability and cost by using less cobalt or no cobalt and often lithium polymer electrolyte containment which relies on solid polymer and gel as electrolyte. However, that does not usually go along with higher energy density and therefore range, despite lithium polymer construction sometimes needing less substantial, less heavy containment of the pack.
It has long been possible to get 150 to 250 miles range from up-market pure electric vehicles not affordable by most people. Examples include the superb Tesla Motors Roadster sports car in the USA and the Mission Motors performance motorcycle in the USA. The pure electric versions planned by most of the famous names in designer sports cars and motorcycles are in this tradition.
For affordable vehicles, the benchmark has been the approximately 100 miles range of nearly all the on road pure electric cars today when driven normally by ordinary people. Examples include the Renault Maxi ZE, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi MiEV cars, the Smith Ampere people carrier and its Speedster 11 seat minibus. Attempts by BYD Auto in China to offer the longer ranges in a family car by stuffing in more battery have resulted in disappointing sales, price being a problem.
Now the rules have changed. BMW has revealed pricing details about its much talked about Megacity vehicle MCV expected in 2013. The base price of the vehicle, now christened as the i3 electric vehicle, is expected to start at around $35,000, similar to earlier microcars but with a range of 160 miles. It will make BMW the first automotive producer to use carbon fibre in large series production, says Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW. It will be interesting to hear the range of the planned Daimler AG pure electric delivery van. India's largest automotive company Tata Motors is clearly moving in that direction. Tata Motors Europe owns Jaguar LandRover but Tata is also launching electric family cars and buses.
Another two-door, four-seat car breaking the range barrier, in this case with 160 miles, is the KD5011 recently announced by Kandi Technologies in China, where the price is only $13,500 which becomes a giveaway $4600 after national subsidies. For such cars, the lithium-ion batteries are up to half the cost of the vehicle as a whole but for many reasons, including cheap labour and a rigged exchange rate, these batteries and the cars themselves are low cost when expressed in dollars. Of course, Chinese electric cars and batteries do not necessarily meet the full crash testing and other safety requirements in Japan or the West. About ten EV related explosions have been reported in China.
The $49,900 Tesla Model S is a premium sedan based on work in the USA and UK and engineered from the ground up as an electric car. With seating for five adults and two children, as well as unprecedented storage space front and back due to the powertrain being flat and in the base of the car. Tesla will begin delivering the Model S in 2012 and will produce about 20,000 units annually at full production. Tesla will mass-produce the Model S at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. Tesla has taken more than 4,600 reservations for the Model S in North America and Europe.The Model S, unveiled in March 2009, does 0-60 mph in less than 6 seconds. The Model S has three options
for battery packs, allowing customers to select from 160 and at extra price, 230 or 300 miles per charge.
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Note added on Coda March 2012. This car manufacturer commenced production of its first all-electric vehicle, the 2012 CODA 1.0 in 2012. The CODA is a four-door, five-passenger all-electric vehicle with two range options: up to 125 miles and 150 miles per charge. With a base MSRP nationally of $37,250, the CODA qualifies for the federal tax credit and state incentives, which provide a federal incentive of $7500 and state rebates of up to $7500.
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Bubble cars have remained a niche market since the conventional Messerschmidt and Heinkel bubble cars sixty years ago but they can be the most aerodynamic, particularly where two passengers are in tandem, as with a recent Volkswagen concept car and the award winning Peraves eTracer from Switzerland. Peraves says it has shown how to build the "200-mile-machine: combining 200 mile range on one charge with a 250 lbs battery and a 200 mph top speed and over 200 mpg equivalent from a road-legal two-seater high performance vehicle." However, it has yet to be demonstrated that significant numbers of people will operate such vehicles.
The latest Thunder Sky electric buses are the 10/21 passenger EV-6700 with a range of 170 miles and under 20 minutes quick-charge, the EV-2009 city buses, and the 43 passenger EV-2008 highway bus, which has a range of 190 miles under quick-charge of 20 minutes and 220 miles under full charge of 25 minutes. Made in Hong Kong, the buses will also be built in the United States and Finland. Similarly, the large BYD Auto pure electric eBUS can travel up to 250 km in range per charge. 200 are curenty beng delivered to Shenzhen University and a few to Germany.
At $89,000, the Chinese Yuneec pure electric two seater E430 plane is affordable in the world of aircraft and its range is 140 miles. They are available now. German competitor PC Aero has a similar pure electric Elektra One plane at $143,000 when available, including its solar hanger and range of 240 miles. We can add boats to that, gaining 150 miles range as they gradually adopt lithium-ion batteries. By land and air, the new benchmark of EV range is clearly in the region of 150 miles.
The term "100 miles range" will still be seen but now in the context of plug-in hybrids where today's 15 miles all-electric range is something of a joke to users wishing to save money and the planet by going electric whenever possible. Hybrids with 50 miles all-electric range are beginning to appear and 100 mile versions will not be far behind. They will be enabled by the many small advances mentioned in this article in the context of pure electric vehicles but also by the new range extenders weighing far less than the nostalgic conventional internal combustion engines used today in hybrids - engines not designed specifically for hybrid use.
The new range extenders take the form of monoblock mini ICE motors, mini turbines and fuel cells; all optimised for fairly constant torque, with lithium-ion traction batteries managing most of the load variation.
All this can now be appraised in one event, "Electric Vehicles Land Sea Air" in Stuttgart Germany June 28-29. See There are many presentations, exhibitors, visits and optional masterclasses concerned with the next generation of on and off-road vehicles, boats and aircraft and a new wave of components for all of them.
The event reflects the complete rethinking of what goes into an EV. That includes mini turbine range extenders, third generation batteries, laminar supercapacitors and supercabatteries and radically different electronics for charging, control and safety including printed electronics. Add to that EV gear trains designed for purpose, multi-mode energy harvesting of up to kilowatts and other components and subsystems including fuel cells powering on and off-road vehicles, boats and aircraft - planes and airships. Each of these topics is the subject of a separate presentation at the event. The future is nearer than many realise but you only see it by looking at the big picture.
The global line-up includes leaders in India, the USA and across Europe but also small innovators such as Peraves of Switzerland mentioned above. Future oriented presentations, not commercials, will be available from Daimler, Tata which includes Jaguar Land Rover, Opel, Tesla, aerospace giant EADS and four other manufacturers and developers of electric aircraft plus three electric boat innovators. Thanks to the German Aerospace Center DLR, you will even learn how those deafening, belching aircraft will become clean and silent on the tarmac thanks to nose wheel electric motors driven by fuel cells. Off-road vehicle manufacturers Alke of Italy and Polaris of Switzerland will present, two wheelers being covered by Ekolo of the Czech Republic and CRP of Italy and others.
For the first time, it will be possible to spot best practice wherever it first occurs. Organiser Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx comments, "We are delighted that the variety of delegates to this unique event mirrors the speaker line-up. From Australia, the USA, Canada, East Asia and across Europe, we have delegates from Airbus in aircraft, many boat and land vehicle manufacturers. There will be system, component and material giants such as Sony, Schneider Electric, Robert Bosch, Henkel, Exide, Maxim and Solvay and others from many other sectors present to absorb the full picture and make new broader contacts."
Following this remarkable European event, on November 1-2, the US version of "Electric Vehicles Land Sea Air" will once more take place in San Jose California. See
to reflect its unique covering of the whole subject.Never before has there been an opportunity in Europe for people in land, water and air electric vehicles and their components, infrastructure and test equipment to compare notes in one event. Delegates already signed up vary from Airbus, Ford, Schneider Electric, Hudson Power Sports and Hudson Yachts to Sony, the Bulgarian Electric Vehicle Association and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. Many battery and infrastructure suppliers are also in the delegate list.

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Posted on: May 30, 2011

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