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$15M Visio.M project seeking to maximize light weight and safety in an urban EV

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.



" The vehicle is envisioned with 15 kW output and a maximum empty weight of 400 kg (882 lbs) without the battery pack." and a 220 lb battery specified.

Hopefully, this urban car could be <$10,000 USD.


At under $10K it would have to be built in a very very low labor cost country with very low cost parts and batteries?


At 882 lbs the collision costs would be reduced by half; the other vehicle would be undamaged.


What would happen if all cars were effectively under 1000 (or 1200 lbs with batteries) and had resilient heavily padded bumpers at both ends?

Richard C Burton

Toppa; you may be right. Wish insurance rates were based on likely damage to other vehicles, so that the lifted up 4wd4dr 7000lb+pickups are discouraged!Some of their bumpers are at window height of my Honda Civic!


When all cars' weight is reduced to 1000 lbs and are equipped with heavily padded 10-inch high bumpers (all installed between 6-in and 16-in from ground), insurance could be reduced by 75+%.


Such minimal cars would serve nicely 98+% of the time - but remain unpopular.

I am confident (almost) that my Honda Civic will go right under many of these lifted pickups.


When US politians effectively destroy all unions and the middleclass - one-moving-part, no >$10/gal gas use, <$10,000 EVs will be the only all weather, maintenable, personal transportation affordable, besides ebikes.


TT...heavily padded ventilated-perforated bumpers could automatically adjust to lower level on highways to gently stop your Civic, instead of going under and damaging your hat-head?


Ultra light cars could be very safe if properly designed and better protected.

By the way, a lady driver in a heavy ICEV burst into flame when her car left the highway in Cascongne, N.B.-Canada. She was saved (from the flames) by a young 16 year old boy while 10 others looked at the fire work.

A BEV could NOT have done better.


A recent Canadian survey concluded that lighter cars have less fatal accidents than larger units.

Provinces with more small cars had a lot less fatal car accidents (a reduction of 28/100,000 to 6/100,000 = -79%) over the last 33 years, while Provinces with larger vehicles average about only half that reduction.

The relative car size may not be the only factor but it could be the major factor? The pre-conceived idea that larger cars are safer is being seriously challenged.

Car Insurances are starting to take car size in consideration to establish the tariff.


Future large 3D printers will be able to build multi-material very light weight car bodies 24/7 from various 3D CAD designs. Liquid plastics and composites, re-enforced/mixed with NCC, will be very strong, will not require painting, will not rust and last 20+ years. Car body and window-door panes will be used as high efficiency solar panels to help recharge the on board batteries while exposed to light.

Digitized design changes will be possible in a few minutes, not months or years. Designers will be far remote from automated manufacturing plants but will use local (lower speed) 3D printers to fully test their desings.

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