In the current state of the art (SotA), the components belonging to the major structural systems of automotive vehicle - chassis and body in white which account for about 70% of the weight of the vehicle - are mostly produced by using one specific material and one specific manufacturing technology. In this regard, wrought steel has been, and still is, the dominant choice (aluminium being restricted to some high-priced segments). But in spite of some promising developments, the potential for lightweighting of one single material alone (not in combination with other materials) is quite limited. As an alternative, European automakers are beginning to rely on multimaterial technologies for vehicle architectures. These structures are characterised by combining different materials or manufacturing processes. In this way, a synergic effect is pursued: on one hand the technical or economic draw backs of the different materials or processes alone are compensated, and their benefits are mutually enhanced.
By bringing together 10 partners including 6 automotive company suppliers (5 of them SME's) and 4 major academic/research centres, URBAN-EV will apply innovative manufacturing technologies and materials to produce at least one prototype of a 2-seat urban electric vehicle with considerably enhanced autonomy with respect to the SotA EV of its kind, and a similar occupant safety level like in normal passenger cars. Specifically, a minimum purely electric range (in urban conditions) of 150 Km is targeted as well as an acceleration time of 10 s for 0-100 Km/h and an energy consumption between the range 40 and 80 Wh/Km. This stringent requirements calls for a realistic weight reduction of about 17% with respect to the current vehicle prototype. This target, although deemed ambitious, is found feasible for the Europe’s leading companies and research centres that compose the URBAN-EV consortium. The platform where these innovative lightweight architectures will be introduced is the 2-seat Casple-EV, supplied by the Spanish automotive company Casple.
URBAN-EV is working towards four expected impacts:
In addition to the above expected impacts, the project will address the following additional areas which are key focus points of the European Union and the European Commission:
In order to achieve the goals, the consortium will design, manufacture and demonstrate new lighter architectures with enhanced engineering reliability for the principal systems of the vehicle such as chassis and body in white as well as several interior parts. Main construction materials will be light alloys and low cost, high integrity polymeric composites, which will be combined using an advanced multi- material design approach. Complementary to the innovations in vehicle’s architecture, a braking system with enhanced energy recuperation capacity will be developed and demonstrated. Furthermore, cost efficient, high integrity manufacturing processes will be applied, with a special focus on those able to deliver complex components, therefore being liable to execute more functions without increasing cost. An important characteristic of the manufacturing technologies of URBAN-EV is its degree of maturity, being actually “off the shelf” technologies. This enables the car manufacturer Casple, as well as the supply chain of URBAN-EV consortium, to set the feasible objective of starting the series production of the new vehicle in about two years’ time from the conclusion of the project. As a key factor to reach this goal, URBAN-EV will heavily rely on physical tests of the developed components, systems and the final prototype with respect to all its relevant requirements, including mechanical requirements, safety, acceleration and autonomy range.
URBAN-EV is directly linked to a network of recently concluded, on-going and planned parallel activities. Some of the projects are devoted to lightweighting while others are more focused in the electric drive, aiming at the development of new concepts for the battery integration and power transmission. As such, URBAN-EV offers a coordinated platform within the context of the Green Car program for achieving an unprecedented level of impact with respect to increasing EU competitiveness through the development and uptake of real innovation. The transfer of knowledge from these projects is guaranteed by common partners - the participating OEMs and research institutes. This enables URBAN-EV to leverage synergies that allows it to bring together into very tangible and integrated demonstration the outputs of seven FP6 and FP7 funded projects. URBAN-EV consortium has a long, proven history of applying off-the-shelf, mature technologies for the development and demonstration of structural vehicles. All these competences will be synergistically combined in a concurrent product–process design procedure. Thereby, the constraints from the manufacturing process will be taken in the design of the product and vice versa. Both designs will run in parallel as a necessary condition to exploit the full potential of the materials-process-product trinomial. Specific tests will be carried-out in order to clearly demonstrate the fulfillment of the set requirements. All of this will allow, at the conclusion of the project, the development of a highly realistic demonstrator of a future electric vehicle and how it could be produced and assembled. As such, URBAN-EV brings a series of R&D capacities together in a convincing way. As far as the production of aluminium, magnesium and structural composites parts for automotive application is concerned, URBAN-EV makes use of the best-in-class technologies of the SotA. A series of technologies have been selected on the grounds of their ability to produce high integrity components, their affordability and liability of assembly-line, with the final aim of achieving a real breakthrough in the production of light and safe electric vehicles for urban use. URBAN-EV has carried out an intensive introduction of magnesium as an optimum structural solution for lightweighting. The use of advanced, low cost thermoplastic solutions is also being accomplished. In the project, the embodied CO2 of the components of the vehicle is taken into account. This is the CO2 emitted prior to the use phase of the vehicle as a result of raw material extraction, purification, treatment, forming, joining and finishing. For example, URBAN-EV uses twin roll casting, an environmentally friendly way of producing light alloy sheets, as well as ‘clean’, ‘no-heat’ electromagnetic pulse (EMPT) joining technology towards their application in the series production of the targeted car.