|A prototype vehicle on the track from the Visio.M project. Click to enlarge.|
In Germany, the Visio.M consortium is developing a mobility concept for an efficient electric vehicle, making the design as light as possible while still delivering the best possible safety protection.
Participants in the Visio.M consortium are, in addition to the automotive companies BMW AG (lead manager) and Daimler AG, the Technische Universität München (TUM) as a scientific partner, and Autoliv BV & Co. KG, the Federal Highway Research Institute (BAST), Continental Automotive GmbH, E.ON AG, Finepower GmbH, Hyve AG, IAV GmbH, InnoZ GmbH, Intermap Technologies GmbH, LION Smart GmbH, Neumayer Tekfor Holding GmbH, Siemens AG, Texas Instruments Germany GmbH and TÜV SÜD AG as industrial partners.
The project is funded with €10.8 million (US$15 million) over two and a half years, within the framework of the program IKT 2020 and the research focus area “Key Technologies for Electromobility – STROM” of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
The basis for the project is the MUTE electric research vehicle, developed by TUM. The Visio.M EV is targeted to have a range of more than 100 km (62 miles) and a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). The vehicle is envisioned with 15 kW output and a maximum empty weight of 400 kg (882 lbs) without the battery pack.
(The MUTE vehicle features a specially designed torque-vectoring gear that gives the vehicle driving dynamics noticeably more agile than suggested by the 15kW drive power, according to TUM.)
The Visio.M engineers are using innovative monocoque body structure. Typically used in racing cars, a monocoque chassis combined with lightweight materials enables good stability while keeping overall weight to a minimum.
The passenger compartment will be made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The Visio.M engineers intend to investigate the feasibility of carbon fiber materials in ultra-compact cars suitable for series production.
For the drive system, the Visio.M developers are also looking to keep weight to an absolute minimum. The EV they are designing will have an efficient and compact asynchronous electric engine. The transmission system will incorporate very light gears resting on hollow shafts. This would make the gears up to 15% lighter than conventional designs.
The carbon fiber structure will incorporate various dedicated active and passive features addressing the specific safety challenges of an ultra-compact electric car. The ideas being investigated include specially adapted seatbelts as well as other innovative concepts to minimize potential injuries in the event of an accident. By the end of the project, the researchers hope that they will have achieved the maximum possible level of safety.
A research prototype vehicle has already passed some initial chassis tests. The Electronic Stability Program, i.e., the anti-lock braking system and the torque vectoring system, have been put through their paces at a test site near Munich.