|Showa’s new e-Van electric commercial vehicle.|
The firm plans to begin marketing a commercial minivehicle—the e-Van—in October, making use of a base model from Fuji Heavy Industries. This vehicle will use a Zebra sodium nickel chloride battery from MES-DEA, for which Showa Aircraft will be the exclusive Japanese importer.
The e-Van is a remodeled electric version of Fuji Heavy’s Sambar commercial minivehicle. It will have a driving range of 150 km (93 miles) with a maximum cruising speed of 90 km/h (56 mph), powered by the 278V, 21.2 kWh battery. The e-Van will be priced at ¥ 3.5 million (US$30,000) or less.
|The one-person, four-wheeled #1.|
In 2008, the company intends to manufacture its own one-person four-wheeled motorized vehicle, the “#1”. With a 93V, 10.6 kWh Zebra battery pack, the vehicle will have a range of 250 km (155 miles) with a maximum cruising speed of 55 km/h (34 mph). The product will be priced between ¥900,000 to 1.5-million (US$7,700 to 12,900).
Zebra sodium nickel chloride (Na/NiCl2) batteries are characterized by high-power, high-capacity cells with a high operating temperature (>270° C). They have an energy density 5 times greater than lead-acid, and a cycle-life greater than 1,000. The batteries need pre-heating to get up to the operating temperature, and can use up to 14% of their own capacity to maintain temperature when not in use.
With the high operating temperature, the battery pack thus needs to be enclosed in a thermally insulated box, and is bulky. Hence, it tends to turn up applied in larger vehicles. Because of the energy density to cost ratio, however, they have been applied in numerous electric traction applications, from taxis to buses, including the new Modec electric commercial van (earlier post).
Showa Aircraft now makes a range of special-purpose vehicles and aircraft-related products. Established in 1937, it manufactured more than 800 planes, mainly transport planes, through the end of WW II. The company began working on a single-seat electric car—Q-CAR—in November, 2002.
Press release (Japanese)