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PML’s In-Wheel Motor, Plug-in Series Hybrid MINI

Miniqed
The MINI QED.

PML Flightlink and its partner Synergy Innovations recently unveiled an in-wheel, plug-in series hybrid conversion of a MINI at the British Motor Show, the MINI QED. The car, one of two the partners have so far produced, serves as a testbed and demonstrator for technologies the company—which designs and manufactures electric motors, joysticks and drive systems—hopes to commercialize.

The QED currently uses four 750 Nm brushless permanent motors in its wheels, a 21 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack and a 250cc two-cylinder, four-stroke engine as the genset. The QED supports an all-electric range of 200-250 miles and has a total range of about 932 miles (1,500 km). The car accelerates from 0-62 mph in less than 5 seconds.

The QED uses a 350V, 11 Farad ultracapacitor to discharge the high current for acceleration and to accept the regen power back from braking. This protects the batteries from high current spikes.

PML is working on the engine component and may change it in the near future. Emission testing is part of that process.

The driver can specify an all-electric Eco mode in which the engine will not start unless directed by the operator. In the normal operating mode, the engine starts when the battery drops to a 50% state of charge (SOC). A third mode—sport—offers an enhanced performance profile on top of the normal mode.

Anti-skid and traction control capabilities are built into each wheel. The anti-skid function dynamically monitors each wheel to detect the onset of skid onset, and then manages the system to obtain maximum non-skid torque from the wheel in either acceleration or braking modes. Traction control dynamically distributes torque when any wheel is in skid management mode.

An option provides steering wheel feed-forward input to the traction control system, allowing driver in tent and wheel alignment to influence stability and traction. Another option would provide further stability input through attitude, yaw and gyroscopic sensors.

PML FlightLink has also developed a prototype electric scooter—the PRAZE project—with European partners including Peugeot and with support from the European Commission.

Comments

Engineer-Poet
The jolt of a couple of good potholes at 30mph is enough to scramble the brains of most electrical components.
Hogwash.  Tire pressure transmitters live in the wheels, and electronics have been built into artillery shells.  If the system is mechanically sound, the electrons follow right along.
shaun mann

before getting too excited, does anyone want to guess how much 21kWhs of li-poly batteries cost?

the EDrive pack is 9kWh for $12,000. so, you can get the battery pack for your hot mini for about the price of a 350Z. add in the rest of the electronics, motors, and the donor car and you'll likely find yourself in ferrari territory.

if fast cars aren't your thing, you could buy a normal mini and finance the planting of a small forest.

Jim

Like everything else prices come down when efficiency of manufacturing goes up. Economy of scale.

m

Like everything else prices come down when efficiency of manufacturing goes up. Economy of scale.

Seen the price of solar panels lately? Housing?

Production efficiency cost reductions can often be overwhelmed by raw material, labor, and other cost increases.

Andrey

Lucas:
I understand you very much. Personally I was proposing performance hybrids as entry point for HEV technology years before appearance of Prius.

Zumbro

Question.
Is it possible to simply buy the wheels and the batteries/capacitors and a controller and build my own vehicle??? If so, who and where do I make contact?

Mike Carpenter

Regarding Economy of Scale (Jim 8/27 - 1:19)

Seen the price of laptops?

Seen the price of Plasma HDTV?

PV is a function of poly-silicon, housing is a function of demand, not supply. Manufactured housing is relatively inexpensive, you can buy a couple tomorrow. A 10,000 square foot house on a private golf course is not an example of economy of scale simply because there are lots of square feet.

JIm

Mike,
Good points. Hopefully this will not be the case. We will see happens.
Ciao

Attila Hun

Please keep me posted on your progress.

I am involved with auto/motive power marketing on two Continents and would be very much interested to 'scare'these into the field.

When will they be technically ready and cost afordable.?

Best Regards, Attila

Alexander Terrell

This is what I've been waiting for.

But it's actually overkill. Better offer it with 1/3 the electric range and battery capacity. That's enough for 90% of journeys.

Erik Karl Sorgatz

The issue is these guys have done it! Nevermind that 90% if the technology was available in 1987 (when Volvo built their turbo-alternator version of the 850) the fact is that fossil fuels are becoming a political football in world politics, hence the price rise for petrol. Having a multi-fuel capable genset would enhance this design greatly, but what they've already done is a bold step! As for the unsprung weight issue of the wheel motors, if you look at the trade off of the weight of the motor using an alloy wheel vs. the old stamped&welded steel wheels, it's almost a wash. I'd like to see one of these with a Capstone Micro gas turbine in it instead of the 2 cyl/4 stroke piston engine - then when petrol becomes too expensive I can use propane, butane, acetylene, kerosene, diesel, cellulosic alcohol, etcetra. It's almost perfect as is - but imagine a version with that turbine?

Philippe

Only front wheel drive, supercapacitor and small atkinson diesel genset will be more affordable ? With lower performance, but commuters dont need drag cars !

amazingdrx

Pick those nits, nitwits. Where's your designs? What a bunch of dweebs.

I've been touting electric cars with generators for years. But the best generator is a solid oxide fuel cell/microturbine. The new CeO2/copper SOFC solves the sulfur and contamination problems to run on any liquid fuel. With the microturbine it gets 75% efficiency, 5 times that of this internal combustion generator, for 400 mpg in this car.

SJC

The new ceria copper SOFC is impressive. They can reform several different fuels right in the stack and are more efficient than previous SOFCs. Right now they are using them for APUs, but with Vehicle to Grid projects, they might make a 10kwh unit to continuously charge a lithium battery bank in the car or connect to the grid and get some real efficiency.
http://www.franklinfuelcells.com/

Koen van Vlaenderen

Great car, very curious about their in-wheel motor design. In fact, this mini is over-dimensioned with respect to its power and maximum speed, but it demonstrates the potential of this technology. Smaller and lighter motor wheels will be sufficient for most people. Secondly, it might be possible to use a small li-ion battery (or even just ultra-capacitors) to store electric energy very temporarily that comes from the generator (a high capacity battery is not necessary). Such adaptations reduce the weight of this mini substantially, which results into a higher number of miles/gallon. And it will be a much cheaper, saver and more comfortable car.

Hopefully it will be mass produced soon.

Nick

"Seen the price of solar panels lately? Housing?"

Both of these are high because of price rationing, not cost. The COST of polysilicon is stable, but the prices have jumped because manufacturers can't expand as quickly as demand has risen.

Housing is very cheap in the exurbs, where there is no shortage of space...

Neil

Great car! But I agree with Alexander that this is overkill. With an all EV range similar to the Tesla, who needs the generator (or as Alexander states reduce the size of the battery). I assume they are starting with the ultimate and will compromise later.

Neil

forget my last remark, after re-reading the article it is obvious that this is not meant as a production car, just a demonstration platform for the various technologies ... so why not go whole hog.

Greg

If unsprung weight of the motor in the wheels is an issue, couldn't a plug-in motor be mounted in the drive shaft before the differential?

Patrick

Driveshaft? Differential? No such thing when you use in wheel motors. Adding such things robs the efficiency of the system and provides mechanical components requiring more maintenance.

If you are not racing (SCCA, Rally, etc) and a lightweight wheel & tire is used the unsprung weight should not be too much of a factor for daily performance. The lower center of gravity (no large motor in the engine bay and the motors at the corners as low as the centerline of the wheels) should make up for it for normal handling manuevers. The dampers and springs will probably have to be beefier though so that potholes don't cause the wheel to lose too much contact with the ground (maybe not beefier, but provide better overall control).

mircea

A real life road-test of this car will be very interesting. The concept of in-wheel is so natural compared to current solution (motor+transmition). EM brakes, EM ABS, everything on continuous control, and much lower mechanical parts.
I quite don't understand: the classic 250cc motor is used only for recharging batteries. They said that the vehicle has 932miles range; but at what speed? I suspect specifications about range are too optimistic.
The concept of using a clasic engine at constant load as a generator is very good (low emissions, high efficiency) but I think at high speed battery drains can't be compensated by generator.
About price: I find a webpage where estimated price for prototype was 200k pounds. I think it's not too much if the specifications are true.

Wells

So, if in-wheel electric motors will increase useful interior room, how is this extra room to be utilized? Will these cars make trips to Mexico and return able to stash even more ingestable contraband by which these engineers may accellerate their genius and come up with more futurama-istic ideas? Yeah, that's probably it.

It's not like we don't have too many cars or depend upon them too much.

Wait! I know! Engineer the human species to become aemebic blobs, and build flying, egg-shaped individual mobility devices that we will live in 24-7! Yeah! That's it! Eureka!

Mike

Thej big question here is will the Wheel Motor be commercially available and when? The possibility of bolting on PHEV functionality say using two wheel motors on the rear of a reasonably sized front wheel drive vehicle like um.... a Corolla is encouraging. Just wish someone would market the wheels.

And, BTW, I looked on grants.gov and to no surprise there weren't any grants I could find related to Electric Vehicle technology development at all - just fuel cells. If any does find one I'm sure some of us would be interested.

Patrick

Hmmm, if you are familiar with GSA/GOV communications try sending a proposal for a RFP concerning electric vehicle grants. Perhaps certain aspects of fuel cell grants could be capitalized upon to develop electric vehicles (improving the efficiency of a fuel cell vehicle can imply improving the electrical portion only and leaving the fuel cell stack and fuel storage to someone else).

I wonder how the "electra-cycle" guys are doing with their project. It uses something similar to an in-wheel motor and claims a 200mpg fuel economy with use of a very small gasoline engine and electric motor combo. I contacted them a year ago but they didn't like the application I wanted to develop and declined to sell me a motor and controller.

Adrian

No mention anywhere of the life of the motors in the wheel. What is the expected MTBF of these things?
I would have believed that if you were going to put motors in tires you'd want to make the tyres fatter to decrease shock to motor assembly. I'm a bigger fan of the wheel motors being moved to the wheel arches and shielded from dust and shock, while the wheels are connected via a CV assembly. This would also decrease the unsprung mass in the wheels making handling better.

With regards to the 250 cc engine, it is silly to assume future engine blocks will be made of the same stuff we now use. A 250cc motorbike engine reving at 10000rpm can give you 45 hp, which is fine for recharging batts considering that most cars don't even use that much for everyday commuting anyway. But such an engine could not maintain this rate of revolution for more then a short period of time before cooking. Maybe future engines will be ceramic or some other alloy that can dissipate heat quicker. More shielding too, so it is quieter.

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