Ford and Schaeffler demonstrate Fiesta-based e-WheelDrive car; follow-up research project in the works
|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.