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Ricardo Establishing Center for Development of Battery Systems for HEVs, PHEVs and EVs

Engineering firm Ricardo, Inc., is establishing a Battery Systems Development Center at its Van Buren Twp., Michigan headquarters to offer turnkey engineering and development of complete high-voltage battery-pack systems for hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and electric vehicles (EV).

Prototype pack systems will undergo development in three specially built development chambers equipped with robust safety and filtration systems. Each will feature high-capacity EV/HEV-capable battery cyclers, high-voltage instrumentation, hardware-in-the-loop systems and other equipment to enable the development of battery systems in simulated vehicle environments.

Once a battery pack design is verified in a safe, simulated environment, the battery system can be integrated into and further developed on a vehicle in Ricardo’s adjoining garage facility. The first chamber is scheduled to be commissioned by mid-summer 2008.

The Battery Systems Development Center, projected to grow to a staff of 32, will focus on engineering complete Li-ion and nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery-pack systems, as opposed to the development of battery cells, which is the domain of cell manufacturers.

There are critical items to address, such as control algorithm robustness, accurate state-of-charge estimation, fault-tolerance design, thermal management optimization, shock and vibration robustness and cost management.

—Wayne Thelen, Ricardo’s Chief Engineer for Advanced Technology

The Battery Systems Development Center will be used to validate Ricardo’s design, analysis and simulation of advanced high-power battery packs. This, combined with the company’s pack/vehicle integration, hybrid transmission development and vehicle development capabilities, puts Ricardo in a unique position of being able to provide turnkey vehicle battery systems development.

Electrification of the vehicle is a critical element of automakers’ strategies for reaching 35-mile-per-gallon CAFE regulations. Up to half the development cost of a battery system can be the robust integration of battery cells into packs.

As a leader in advanced vehicle technology, Ricardo is applying its Total Vehicle Fuel Economy (TVFE) capabilities to this important new technology to help our customers accelerate the volume production of electric vehicle technologies into the market. Hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles are fast becoming a crucial part of the technology mix, and we have the experience of more than 30 hybrid-vehicle and battery-systems projects to draw upon to bring even more value to our customers.

—Dean Harlow, Ricardo President


Stan Peterson

More infrastructure for the Electrification of Ground Transport is being put into place.

Rafael Seidl

Ricardo has done some groundbreaking things for fuel economy over the years, but this particular effort looks a little belated. Continental, LG, Tesla and others are already well ahead of them in the race to develop a market for battery pack engineering. Also, why bother with NiMH at this point - everyone wants to switch to Li-ion.

Jay Dee

IMO, there aren't a lot of efforts on the right track to effectively reduce our oil addiction - but this appears to be one.

The most rapid evolutionary process would most likely apply intensive programs of accelerated lifetime testing of PHEV drive systems.

Sophisticated amateurs could also systematically test and publish results for the "best" motors (and generators adapted from those motors) now available for scooters and electric motorcycles. The "best" motors would have the optimal power per pound, durability, and lifetime cost.

Ultimately what we want is to find the gasoline price-point where PHEVs can beat conventional ICE drive systems in terms of lifetime cost.

Then consumers and governments can be merciless on Big Oil and car companies demanding exemptions from fuel economy and pollution standards.

Eventually, batteries + on-board gensets may be replaced by batteries + fuel cells. But fuel cells would likewise need to beat the standards set for power per pound, durability, and lifetime costs.

John Taylor

Kudos to Ricardo, Inc.

They have found a job that needed done and are doing it.
This type of forward thinking to make Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) a reality is what will be necessary to bring the future solutions. Our over-dependence on fossil fuels will change, and BEV technology is a big part of that change.

The battery for electric cars is here, but not quite available in units that are ideal for this application, or at a price point to make it cost competitive, or backed up by a manufacturers warranty, or complete with specifications relating to drive motors.

This is a step forward in technology development.


Good news - Ricardo is a great company.


batteries + fuel cells, this is a complete waste of time fuel cell are just like ICE they will cost the consumer more money down the road. EV's are the answer but the problem is the auto industry won't make as much money with them in the long term, because there is a low profit margin after the Initial purchase of the car. Hydrogen is a complete waste of time plain and simple becuase of overall cost.

Harvey D


Your are probably right concerning fuel cells for cars for the next decade or two.

Would like to see PHEVs with modular battery packs and gensets.

One could start with a 10Kwh battery pack and add one or two more similar packs as the battery price comes down.

A similar approach could be used for the on-board genset. A very small 20 KW unit should be enough for very small light weight cars. One could also select larger 40 KW or 60 Kw units where more power and speed are required.

We have the choice between 4 & 6 and even 8 cyls ICE on most vehicles. Why not have similar choices on PHEVs?

Jay Dee

what2do insisted:

"batteries + fuel cells, this is a complete waste of time fuel cell are just like ICE"

"...Hydrogen is a complete waste of time plain and simple becuase of overall cost."

What I called for is PROOF MADE PUBLIC (which allows for anybody to test that proof independently). You DEMAND WITHOUT SUPPLYING PROOF that all fuel cells are a complete waste of time and need expensive hydrogen fuel supplies. You're probably right about GM's and Bush's "fool" cells, but you're probably wrong overall: Hydrogen for fuel cells from ammonia is cheap, and carbon fuel cells (among others) don't need hydrogen at all. In the near future, we might have cheap medium-temperature carbon or ammonia fuel cells.

And then what2do insisted (again without proof):

"EV's are the answer but the problem is the auto industry won't make as much money with them in the long term, because there is a low profit margin after the Initial purchase of the car."

Fuel cell cars and series-hybrid PHEVs ARE EVs. So maybe you're insisting about Battery EVs - which are BEVs (instead of PHEVs). Again, YOU must supply proof that batteries have adequate energy density (for range), convenient charging (to allow on-the-go fillups), durability, and lifetime cost. For some customers, the deficiencies of BEVs may be OK, but in any case you'd need to supply sufficient PROOF of BEV lifetime performance and costs to prospective BEV customers.


I think that there is money in EVs for car makers if they make the batteries, chargers, motors, controllers and other elements of the design. If they initially buy them, that is one thing and they have out sourced production of components to a large degree, but those are captive parts contracts for the most part. GM could sell batteries, motors, controllers and all the suspension, steering and other assemblies. Nothing lasts forever and with the pounding that a car takes over 100k miles, they will have plenty of follow on business.


Is this a tip of the hat?

My question is, with the talk of li-ion and plug-ins, do they have some outsourcing work or are preparing for some outsourcing work on the "Volt"?

Ricardo and and others like AVL, Cosworth, and FEV have a presence in the Western Detroit burbs and work on many programs. We all know of Ricardo's vaulted reputation if this is the case, hats off to them.


Ricardo has traditionally been involved with engine design; really good at combustion design, and involved with many techologies as far as engine efficiency (variable displacement, cylinder deac, HDDI, variable geometry turbines, etc). This is a company that has been doing mechanical design for 100 years. So for Ricardo to set up this center is pretty significant, they obviously feel that hybridization is coming, and they need to evolve with the technology.

Ricardo has had a good relationship with GM, so it would not surprise me if they did have some of the outsourced work on the Volt.



Harvey D.

I agree with you. I also “Would like to see PHEVs with modular battery packs and gensets.” – especially with the current cost of batteries. By giving the customer choice, it would expand the market for PHEVs.

I suggest that 5 kWh would be a reasonable minimum size of battery pack to provide a 25-mile all electric range (AER) for a PHEV in the Volt’s or Prius’ weight class, ~ 3,000 lbs. Then 1-kWh modules can be added at later dates at an increasing lower cost to boost the PHEV’s AER for whatever reason – longer commute, aging batteries, GHG concerns, etc. Perhaps, the newer modules can be re-installed in one’s new 2020 PHEV and the original battery pack can be added to one’s home UPS or solar storage batteries.

One could go lower on this minimum battery size but you may need to add an ultracapacitor or “power” battery to the PHEV’s “energy” batteries to handle the power surges during acceleration and regenerative braking.

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