Smith Electric Vehicles in £2.8M Project to Develop More Efficient Electric Driveline; Introduces Two New Passenger EVs at LCV2009
09 September 2009
Smith Electric Vehicles (SEV) is part of a consortium working on a £2.8-million (US$4.6-million) project to develop a new, more efficient electric driveline, along with smarter, more energy efficient ancillary systems, such as heating and air conditioning. Combining all these elements together, Smith’s engineers believe they can improve the range of its electric vans by up to 20 miles (about 20%) on a full battery charge. Current maximum range is around 100 miles for urban operations.
Separately, Smith Electric Vehicles, a producer of commercial electric vehicles, introduced two new electric passenger vehicles at LCV2009, a showcase for low-carbon vehicles, in the UK. The first is a new electric people carrier, the second, a new electric executive minibus.
Driveline project. Tanfield is part of a consortium that has secured £1.4m in matched funding towards the more efficient driveline project, under the UK Government’s Ultra Efficient Systems programme, administered by the Technology Strategy Board.
The investment will fund the development of three sub-systems and integrate them all into the Smith Edison, a pure electric version of the Ford Transit van produced in collaboration with Ford of Europe. However Tanfield believes there is substantial crossover potential for the auxiliary systems, into other electric cars, vans and trucks.
This is the first time any company has taken on the development of better auxiliary systems for electric vehicles. We are undertaking pioneering work that has the potential to deliver range-extending capabilities suited to all passenger and commercial electric vehicles.—Darren Kell, CEO of The Tanfield Group Plc, owner of SEV
The primary objectives are to optimize drivetrain efficiency while also reducing parasitic losses and taking out weight. The core of the project is a new high-efficiency motor, coupled with a smart two-speed transmission and managed by a central vehicle systems controller.
The second phase will involve engineers developing the first auxiliary systems designed specifically for electric vehicles—until now, EV manufacturers have adopted solutions from internal combustion engine vehicles, which are less energy efficient, heavier and poorly packaged, Smith says. Smith’s new high voltage systems for air conditioning, power steering and heating will reduce drain on the traction batteries, thereby extending the vehicle’s range on a single charge.
The third element of the programme is to develop a smart central controller that co-ordinates all the vehicle’s systems.
Other members of the consortium include:
- Ricardo, a leading global engineering technology provider, with substantial engineering capabilities in power electronics and EV motors;
- TRW Conekt, the technology and engineering consultancy arm of TRW automotive;
- Tirius Ltd, a UK-based electrical and electronic vehicle engineering design consultancy, focused on high efficiency permanent magnet motor technology;
- University of Bristol, a leading UK university specializing in permanent magnet motor technology and transmission and controls research;
- Borg Warner (sub-contractor);
- Catem (program supplier), will provide the PTC technology to support the program execution;
- Valence Technology Inc (program supplier), will provide Lithium Iron Phosphate battery technology.
Passenger vans. The zero emission Smith Ampere people carrier is an eight-seat passenger vehicle with a projected range of 100 miles (160 km) on a full battery charge and a top speed of 70 mph (113 km/h). Smith Electric Vehicles has produced commercial EVs for more than 80 years and is Ford’s official collaborator on commercial EVs in Europe and North America. The two companies launched the people carrier as the Tourneo Connect BEV Concept vehicle at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. (Earlier post.)
The vehicle features a 28 kWh Li-ion battery pack and a 50 kW permanent magnet motor. LCV2009 is the first opportunity for potential customers to experience the vehicle in motion, on the test track at Millbrook Proving Grounds.
|“These two vehicles demonstrate how easily we can translate our EV technology for moving goods into EVs that move people. ”|
Sales Director for SEV
Smith also unveiled a new, nine or 11-seat battery electric minibus, called the Speedster, which will go into service with a major London retailer. It has a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) and a range of 80-130 miles (129-209 km) on a full charge, depending on the size of the battery pack—Smith plans to offer a choice of 50, 60 or 70kWh battery packs. The minibus features a 90 kW motor.
Smith has developed an onboard fast-charging technology that will further extend the vehicle’s daily operating range to more than 200 miles (322 km) by enabling a full charge from flat in 3-4 hours for a full charge from flat. This also allows for opportune charging at fixed points on the route.
Working with new company Green Urban Transport, Smith has developed the unique executive minibus based on its Smith Edison electric van, which uses the Ford Transit chassis. Green Urban Transport will deploy the first prototype vehicle on trials with a number of companies, including offering a premium London commuting solution and a premium door-to-door shuttle service for customers of a major retailer in West London.
The Smith Ampere is a light van based on the Ford Transit Connect chassis and the Smith Edison is based on the Ford Transit chassis. Both are produced in collaboration with Ford of Europe.
A 20% overall efficiency gain with improved electrified ancillary units is valuable for HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs. Why waste energy if you dont have to.
Standardization + mass production + worldwide competition could reduce cost of ancillary units and electrified vehicles.
Electrified vehicle manufacturers would not have produce ancillary units but could buy them (from lower cost suppliers) as they currently do with regular car batteries, tires, lights, radiators, etc.
Posted by: HarveyD | 09 September 2009 at 11:05 AM
Reducing the cost of electric vehicles is more important than increases in efficiency. The UK switched reluctance company could produce lighter and more efficient motors which could be used for the main drive and all auxilliarys without a bit of rare metals. The Japanese ECOcute technology could be adapted for heating and cooling. Hermetic AC units would have a life longer than the vehicle without much maintenance. They could even use pure propane and the high efficiency regulating valve valve from Global Cooling along with the very high efficiency free piston compressor now being produced by LG. Oh yes; forget the bigger batteries and put in tiny range extenders for lower cost and infinite, if slower, range. ..HG..
Posted by: Henry Gibson | 09 September 2009 at 07:55 PM