Ford and Schaeffler demonstrate Fiesta-based e-WheelDrive car; follow-up research project in the works
26 April 2013
|Fiesta eWheelDrive. Click to enlarge.|
At Ford’s Lommel Proving Ground in Belgium, Ford Motor Company and Schaeffler demonstrated the Fiesta-based eWheelDrive car. (Earlier post.) Powered by independent electric motors in each of the rear wheels, eWheelDrive technology could lead to improvements in urban mobility and parking by enabling smaller, more agile cars, Ford said.
This technology could in the future support the development of a four-person car that only occupies the space of a two-person car today. At the same time, eWheelDrive steering system designs could enable vehicles to move sideways into parking spaces—a boon as cities become more populated and congested. Ford said it will work with Schaeffler and other partners on a follow-up research project, including producing two more drivable vehicles by 2015.
This is an exciting project to work on with Schaeffler because it potentially opens new options for the development of zero emission vehicles with very efficient packaging and exceptional maneuverability. Looking forward, we have the opportunity to scope out the vehicle’s capabilities and how we might overcome some of the challenges presented by implementing the technology.—Pim van der Jagt, Ford’s director of Research and Advanced Engineering in Europe
The Schaeffler in-wheel drives offer peak output of 40 kW, 33 kW continuous. The liquid-cooled wheel hub drive, which is in its beta stage of development, also delivers up to 700 N·m (516 lb-ft) of torque. In comparison to the first-generation wheel hub drive, which was first exhibited in Schaeffler’s Opel Corsa-based Schaeffler Hybrid concept car in 2010, the eWheel Drive beta features an output increase of one-third, as well as 75% more torque. The electrical voltage of the high-voltage drive is 360 – 420 V.
|The eWheel motor. Click to enlarge.||The eWheel in place. Click to enlarge.|
The highly-integrated wheel hub drive has a total weight of 53 kg (117 lbs), so the weight increase compared to a conventional wheel with a wheel bearing and brake is 45 kg (99 lbs). It has a 16-liter design envelope, which is housed inside a 16-inch wheel rim.
With in-wheel motors, the components required for drive, deceleration and driver assistance technologies are installed in an integrated wheel hub drive including the electric motor, braking and cooling systems.
|Schaeffler eWheel. Click to enlarge.||Fiesta-based eWheelDrive car. Click to enlarge.|
Ford joined the project led by Schaeffler to investigate the potential for future vehicles that also could offer zero emissions, and more space for features such as additional protection zones.
In-wheel electric motors are seen by many industry experts as a potentially important future technology enabler for city cars as the world becomes more crowded and urbanized. It is projected that by 2050 the number of people living in cities globally will have increased from 3.4 billion to 6.4 billion, and the number of cars worldwide will have increased fourfold.
Ford will next partner with Schaeffler, Continental, RWTH Aachen and the University of Applied Sciences, Regensburg, on project MEHREN (Multimotor Electric Vehicle with Highest Room and Energy Efficiency) to develop two new driveable vehicles by 2015. The project aims to increase the integration of in-wheel motors in a car and will look at vehicle dynamics control, braking, stability and the fun-to-drive factor.
The _only_ benefit if in-wheel motors is packaging - in that it frees up space inboard of the wheels for more cargo room.
But holy crap - adding 100 lbs of sprung weight to each wheel is going to kill handling and ride quality.
And liquid cooling to the wheels? That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen!
If you want 4-wheel torque vectoring a more standard setup like the Mercedes SLS EV is the way to go with the motors mounted inboard and the wheels driven by conventional CVT joints.
Packaged properly (See Telsa Model S) it still leaves you with a ton of cargo room compared to conventional vehicles and minimizes sprung weight with large benefits in ride and handling.
Posted by: Dave R | 26 April 2013 at 11:34 AM
The SLS and R8 eTron use in board motors with half shafts and CV joints, that seems to work fine.
I do not understand the obsession with wheel motors when a better solution is so obvious. Put the two motors where the rear differential would be, connect them to half shaft/CV joints connected to the conventional wheels and brakes.
Posted by: SJC | 26 April 2013 at 11:43 AM
Far too much unsprung weight to be practical. As mentioned above, a centrally located motor package, with driveshafts is a far better method. To ignore the unsprung weight issue, is to go back to vehicles that ride, handle and feel awful.
Posted by: cujet | 26 April 2013 at 06:26 PM
I, respectfully, do not agree with the negative comments. Like all prototypes, this one will undergo improvements. This car can maneuver very well with wheels turning at high degrees. Parking in urban locations can be much easier with this one. And, the urban locations usually have smoother road surface and very few potholes. I think this is a pretty good solution. Making RWD to AWD is very convenient wit this solution.
Posted by: Kennedyw10 | 27 April 2013 at 11:39 AM
Kennedyw10, I clearly understand the point you are trying to make. However, drive around NYC and surrounding areas for a bit and tell me again about the smooth roads. Do it in a live rear axle Mustang and tell me how pleasant that car rides over such terrain... Ya know, come to think of it, I have just a bit of engineering experience in this area. Bottom line: WAY too much "unsprung weight".
Posted by: cujet | 27 April 2013 at 06:26 PM
That is one of the reason trucks handle and ride like trucks, they have all the weight of the axle and differential unsprung. Hit a bump or pot hole and you will feel it because the suspension response is not there.
Posted by: SJC | 28 April 2013 at 07:00 PM
This is so far still consider as a working prototype. It will never be official launch for commercial products any soon till 2015. It will still go through a lot of material refinement, optimization, redesigning and engineering before it is ready to be ready on the roads. What has been showcased here to us is that through this product, the ewheel hub drive, what Schaeffler is capable of producing, that they are breaking into a new sector of auto parts and their vision for what the future mobility will be. The ewheel hub drive right here defines the very foundation for the upcoming ewheels, it is an extremely crucial step and it must be taken before progressing further.
Posted by: June Handon | 02 May 2013 at 09:29 AM
Yes, June. However, I don't doubt the ability of Schaeffler and Ford. Since Schaeffler has innovated several new tech and I seldom hear that Schaeffler has product failure. I guess Schaeffler will ensure all the testing before releasing to the market.
Posted by: tonyspark | 31 May 2013 at 06:42 AM
Schaeffler delivers excellent products I must say and I agree with that Tony. Right now both companies are working the ewheel with Continental, RWTH Aachen and the University of Applied Sciences, Regensburg, the next generations of EVs are promised to be revealed by 2015, I am really excited to see whats the breakthrough and the limits of this ewheel. I
Posted by: June Handon | 24 June 2013 at 08:35 AM