Altair ProductDesign is partnering with Edison2 to assist in the design of the new Very Light Car 4.0 (VLC 4.0), the next generation version of the innovative, light-weight, fuel-efficient vehicle entered in the Progressive Automotive XPRIZE in 2010. The original Edison2 vehicle, operating with a one-cylinder internal combustion engine, won the $5 million prize for the Mainstream Class. (Earlier post.)
Light-weighting becomes a virtuous cycle, Edison2 notes, with a lighter chassis needing a smaller drive train, a lighter suspension and so on. The VLC 4.0 is an all-new vehicle that will achieve high fuel economy results by retaining the same attributes of ultra-light weight and extremely low aerodynamic drag in a four-passenger vehicle.
|The XPRIZE-winning Edison2 (left) and a rendering of the next-gen VLC (right). Click to enlarge.|
Edison2 says that its envisioned new shape of the next generation VLC is an aerodynamic improvement over the angular XPRIZE design. Preliminary testing at the Virginia Tech Wind Tunnel showed that the smoother curves of the new design can help offset the drag associated with requirements such as bumpers and mirrors. The new shape also improves driver visibility, according to the company.
Larger wheels allow more in-wheel suspension travel, improving ride quality. The interior will have simple but sophisticated fit-and-finish and a lower doorsill. With an eye towards eventual production, the chassis is now aluminum sheet metal instead of tubular steel.
During the program, Altair ProductDesign will conduct a three-phase engineering study targeting suspension sensitivity, vehicle impact strategy and structural optimization.
To facilitate the vehicle’s development, Altair will provide computer-aided engineering optimization and crash-safety engineers, multi-body dynamics engineers, subject-matter experts and senior technical specialists. They will assist the Edison2 team in executing each of the study’s three phases and accelerating the development of the prototype for the VLC 4.0.
Our engineers will focus on using optimization in the beginning of the design process to anticipate structural loading requirements with a minimum mass structure. We will be identifying the critical load paths in the design space, brainstorming concept design solutions and using detailed optimization to refine those solutions for a minimum mass footprint.—Mike Heskitt, Chief Operating Officer of Altair ProductDesign
Other aspects of Altair’s work with the Edison2 team will analyze ride and handling, steering sensitivity and noise-vibration-harshness (NVH).
Altair’s HyperWorks simulation suite will be used to validate Edison2’s novel suspension concept for the type of performance expected on a passenger car. Multiple attributes will be optimized for the tradeoffs typically encountered in suspension design.—Mike Heskitt
In the XPRIZE competition, the Edison2 VLC set numerous records, including 110 mpg for the Mainstream Class vehicle, the lowest drag coefficient ever recorded at the GM Aero Lab for a multi-passenger car (0.16) and the competition’s lowest greenhouse gases emissions at 82.6 g of carbon dioxide.
The engine was a 250cc, 1 cylinder turbocharged DOHC unit that delivered maximum power of 40 hp (30 kW) and maximum torque of 29 lb-ft (39 N·m). The rear-wheel drive car used a six-speed manual transmission.
Since the XPRIZE, Edison2 has also created an electric VLC. Needing only a 10.5 kWh battery pack to achieve a 100-mile (161 km) range, the eVLC recorded 245 MPGe (EPA combined), compared to 99 MPGe of the Nissan Leaf. The battery pack fully recharges in less than 7 hours, using regular household 110V outlet.