The Taiwan Automotive International Forum and Exhibition is proving to be a lively affair with about 300 present and a high standard of excellence in presentations and participation - an apt celebration of ten years of industry partnership in Taiwan. Here are some themes, including information from many valuable personal conversations at the event - so rich with detail, any report can only give a few aspects.
Scepticism about fuel cells, increased adoption of supercapacitors and modest projections of improvement in lithium-ion battery parameters were among the themes. For example, Volkswagen described testing supercapacitors in Audi electric cars with good results. The use of 48V for both conventional and electric vehicles received enthusiastic attention from several speakers, Volkswagen and others describing extensive work. Many delegates and speakers were feeling their way towards integration of parts. Examples are motors integrated with motor controllers or forming part of the transmission. Integration is seen as inevitable by many but sometimes feared by some suppliers.
Taiwan is world leader in electric vehicles for the disabled and it has moved into pure electric buses, two wheel and some other EVs on a modest scale, as well as making a wide variety of EV components but there is a feeling that much more can be done on a more ambitious scale. The event exposed many exciting ways in which this can come about.
Obviously hybrids are evolving from parallel to series-parallel then series formats or sometimes jumping straight to the end point as they progress towards pure electrics for everything. Many speakers touched on how fuel cells are merely range extenders for hybrids because they cannot provide frequent surges or even work in reverse to gather harvested energy. The swingeing cost of hydrogen supply infrastructure does not apply with closed systems such as buses and forklifts, so these are probably the best early entry point for volume sales but the car companies are totally split on the matter, half of the leaders launching up-market fuel cell cars next year and the rest looking on disbelievingly.
However, they are certainly not the whole show in town. Speaker Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman of IDTechEx pointed to many other options. However, opinions on moving from piston engines varies from Tatsuhiko Hayashi, Editor in Chief of Nikkei Automotive technology saying the alternatives will not have major success in the coming decade to others describing work on rotary combustion engines bearing fruit.
Wankel rotary combustion engines are being studied or developed and sometimes applied by Mazda, Audi and Proton in hybrid cars and Diamond Aircraft/ AustroEngine in hybrid aircraft whereas Libralato of the UK has a radically different rotary combustion design claimed to overcome the fundamental limits of Wankel. Longer term we have very small multi-fuel jet engines being developed. Proton announced how its first hybrid car will launch in 2015. Their Mr Md Ridzuan Md Yusof said that a 407 cc Wankel rotary combustion engine is currently in this car but it may not be powerful enough. There is a range issue.
Electric traction motors
KLD of the USA is collaborating with MINTH of China on its thin film based traction motor technology. The plan is to use these motors in 48 V and 74 V microcars, the main target being fully homologated cars and only secondarily the microEV/ quadricycle market which encompasses what are called low speed vehicles LSV in China, which are only legal in Shandong province, where they are popular with farmers. Elsewhere, the Chinese laws do not recognise them, so there is an ambiguous situation as was explained by Tatsuhiko Hayashi, Editor in Chief of Nikkei Automotive Technology. In answer to questions, Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx expressed his belief that there is a place for almost all forms of brushless traction motors, given the rapidly increasing variety of vehicle types and therefore needs. That includes both axial and radial flux, asynchronous and synchronous and everything in between, he said.
The oldest electrical company in Taiwan - Tatung sells asynchronous motors for boats and many types of land vehicles. However, the most comprehensive traction motor range announced at the event was that of Teco - asynchronous and synchronous - PM and switched reluctance. They do in-wheel motors for electric vehicles for SIM Drive, Japan. Scooters, cars, buses, MPVs, vans, microEVs and mini trucks are all fitted with Teco traction motors . Trends were also described.
For more see the new IDTechEx report Electric Motors for Hybrid and Pure Electric Vehicles 2015-2025: Land, Water, Air.