Global strategic engineering and environmental consultancy Ricardo, Shoreham-by-Sea, UK, has developed a new 48-volt electric motor which it states offers up to a 50% increase in power density compared with current production machines. The motor was developed as part of a major European research initiative, the European COmpetitiveness in Commercial Hybrid and AutoMotive PowertrainS (ECOCHAMPS) project.
The new Ricardo 48V e-motor and accompanying inverter were designed to incorporate the latest thinking in high-performance, low-cost electrification, which aims to extend the performance of 48V hybrids to offer a more attractive and affordable solution in comparison with today’s higher-voltage hybrid cars. Ricardo was one of twenty-five collaborating EU commercial and academic partners on this project, the focus of which was to achieve both a 20% powertrain efficiency improvement and a 20% reduction in weight and in volume in comparison with the best-in-class full hybrid vehicles on the market at the start of the project.
In doing so, the aim was to achieve a cost premium of no more than 10% over equivalent conventional products – which is considerably less than the additional cost of current hybrid architectures. The ECOCHAMPS project – which was recently completed – focused on the hybridisation requirements of a range of vehicles from ‘C’ and ‘B’ class passenger cars, to light delivery trucks, city buses, and long-haul heavy-duty trucks. The project delivered five demonstrator vehicles – one for each of these categories – in order to demonstrate and validate the full benefits of the approach taken in creating low-cost hybrid powertrains. In addition to broadly achieving the targets set for all five vehicle classes, the ECOCHAMPS vehicles reportedly demonstrated their constituent technologies up to a Technology Readiness Level of 7.
Thomas Gutwald, Managing Director, Ricardo Innovations, stated, “Affordable hybridisation for mass market vehicle applications is likely to be key to achieving future fuel economy and CO2 emissions targets. Ricardo is pleased to have been involved in the ECOCHAMPS research initiative. The new Ricardo 48V e-motor and inverter that we have announced today is a demonstration of the very significant strides that are possible by applying the latest thinking to the engineering of electric powertrain architectures and components. We look forward to working with our partners to help pull forward the technology, which will enable automakers to create a new generation of better performing and highly cost-effective 48V hybrids that offer close to the fuel-efficiency of full hybrids at a fraction of the on-cost.”
The new design is said to combine the company’s experience gained through ECOCHAMPS and other R&D projects, as well as commercial work in developing electrified powertrain products for customers. Testing of the e-motor and inverter was carried out at Ricardo’s facilities in Shoreham-by-Sea and Cambridge, UK, on three prototype units built for the project by Ricardo. Results of these tests are expected to be published and presented at the IEEE ECCE at Portland, Oregon, USA, in September 2018. A series of presentations are set to be made on the results of the ECOCHAMPS project in China, Japan, USA, EU, India and the UK.