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Zytek Shows Electric A-Class Demonstrator with Uprated 55kW E-Drive; Developed in 10 Weeks

The 55kW E-Drive fits neatly onto the existing engine mounting points with just three additional connections (water, high voltage electrics and low voltage electrics). Click to enlarge.

Zytek has unveiled a fully engineered, electric version of the Mercedes A-Class that it developed in just ten weeks. Designed to demonstrate the capability of the company’s production-ready 55kW E-Drive electric powertrain, the five-seat electric family car project is a Zytek in-house activity and is entirely independent of Mercedes-Benz.

For the A-Class demonstrator, Zytek developed an uprated version of its 55kW E-Drive, using a higher current switching system to increase the maximum torque from 120N·m (89 lb-ft) to 160N·m (118 lb-ft). Zytek also increased the maximum motor speed from 12,000rpm to 13,000rpm to provide a top speed of 70 mph (113 km/h) while providing sufficient torque to ensure good low speed performance and the ability to comfortably climb steep gradients.

The electric A-Class demonstrator. Click to enlarge.

The A class application provides ‘plug-and-play’ functionality, with the motor, inverter and control electronics integrated into a single unit. The complete assembly fits neatly onto the existing engine mounting points with just three additional connections (water, high voltage electrics and low voltage electrics) and will interface with all existing vehicle systems including ABS (Antilock Braking System), ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and OBD (onboard diagnostics).

Power is provided by two air-cooled sodium nickel chloride battery packs, integrated under the floor of the vehicle so they don’t compromise luggage space or vehicle stability. Range is expected to exceed 120 miles (193 km) in a typical mixed drive cycle and the level of regenerative braking can be easily calibrated to match customer requirements for driveability and refinement.

Performance of the Zytek electric A-Class is brisk, even though the power output is electronically limited to 40kW to increase battery life. “The rated power doesn’t sound much, but comparisons with conventional engines are irrelevant because of the completely different torque characteristics,” highlights program manager Neil Cheeseman.

Taking a vehicle like this into manufacture would be relatively simple, says Zytek Automotive sales and marketing director Steve Tremble. “The E-Drive has been designed with homologation in mind, and the modular nature of the unit, with the small number of fixings, means that it can be simply installed on the production line alongside conventional power units. We are already managing this process for one premium manufacturer.

Zytek’s range of integrated electric drive modules allows the rapid development and cost-effective manufacture of electric derivatives for a wide range of cars and commercial vehicles up to 5.5 tonnes. Current production applications for E-Drive, which is available in high power density 55kW and 70kW versions, range from the smart fourtwo electric city car, through a number of C- segment family saloons and light duty vans, to several categories of heavier commercial vehicle.

Low-volume vehicle build, typically for fleet trials, is conducted at Zytek, while for higher volumes the company supports assembly at the customer’s vehicle manufacturing facility, with the highly integrated design of E-Drive making it suited for integration alongside standard models.

Zytek has designed and integrated electric drive systems for a wide range of European and US vehicle manufacturers and is currently building high performance electric drivetrains up to 70kW (94 hp) and 300N·m (221 lb-ft) for cars, busses and light commercial vehicles. Their UK facility can accommodate up to 6,000 E-Drive integrations a year in batches as low as 100, providing vehicle manufacturers with a flexible specialist production resource for their low carbon programs.

Although the design and build of the A-Class demonstrator is an entirely Zytek activity, the company has worked with Mercedes on a range of projects over more than a decade. Most recently, Zytek managed the design and build of 100 first generation smart ed electric vehicles and is now working with smart on a production version of the second generation vehicle. As a supplier of engine management systems for internal combustion engines, Zytek is also can deliver hybrid vehicle programs and has already worked on a number of vehicles, including two diesel applications.



Is this the quickest road to BEVs?

Could a much smaller, lighter, cheaper e-unit be fitted into a Tata Nano? Would that turn out to be a low cost (below $10K) BEV?

Alternatively, there are many other candidates from Korea, China etc.

Henry Gibson

good idea.


What are they demonstrating?

A new idea for an EV?
How many people have stuck an electric motor in place of an ICE over the last 10 to 20 years.

An affordable MB EV?
Ain't no such thing.

A cutting edge EV.
GM did that with the dull edged EV1 10 years ago.

It is a Zytek technology demonstrator, no more, no less, I think.
It got 'em on GCC.


Looks like they use existing transmission??


Zytek did the engineering for the Smart EV, but it seems that was replaced by the second-generation Smart ED before it ever got into production. Does anyone know what Zytek tech, along with Tesla tech, remains in the Smart ED that's supposedly entering "series production" in two months?


Zytek have done a fine job for Mercedes in providing them with a 25 kg KERS package for their formula 1 car too.

Their KERS package provides 80 hp and the 25 kg includes the motor, power electronics and the battery!



For a BEV to be affordable ($10K) or even less it must:

1) Use a very low cost existing light weight body such as the Tata Nano or even lighter. No body design cost.

2) It must use much lower cost batteries ($200/Kwh max). Technology is not important.

3) Haul a very small light weight genset range extender for long trips only. Not even required for city units. If integrated on-board, it must be very small.

4) be built where labour is very low cost. That is a must.


"For a BEV to be affordable ($10K) or even less it must:"

5) And it must be a used car.

For those who want a $10K BEV I have to ask; 'can you even get a normal car for that?' Last year I needed a new car and because the dealers were so desperate to sell I figured it was a great time to get a *new* new car. The best price I could find was $13K.


The Lotus range extender engine described in an earlier post weighs 56 kg, so 60 kg with gas. Someone should figure out some kind of mounting scenario where you put it on a trailer hitch so you don't even need a trailer for those who don't like driving with trailers. However, putting 60 kg on a trailer hitch on a small car may not do good things for suspension and handling.


Something that fits inside a "hitch box?"


This looks like a way for manufacturers to start producing EVs very quickly using their existing production lines.  No ICE means no emissions recertification is required.  Maintenance will be very cheap.

I can see immediate sales for fleet vehicles, Zip Cars and anywhere electricity is not produced from oil.


Nano/Mini BEVs do not have to cost more than $10K if built on existing platforms such as the Tata Nano.

E-cars are much simpler to build than ICE units, specially when very low cost (made in Asia?) standardized e-ancillary units + higher performane light weight, much lower cost batteries become available.

An optional on-board or on-trailer mini genset should not cost that much to convert mini BEVs to mini PHEVs for those living further away from the work place. Alternatively, a second battery pack may supply the extra e-range required.

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