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Ricardo develops range-extended electric vehicle

Ricardo, in partnership with the Low Carbon Vehicle Technology Project (LCVTP), is developing a range-extended electric vehicle (RE-EV) for the C-D vehicle segment of the automotive market.

So far, most EV products and research demonstrators have focused on urban ’city’ car segment applications.

For larger C-D segment vehicles, issues of cost, range anxiety and real-world duty cycles requiring, for example, intermittently fast operation with frequent stopping present some potentially significant and fundamental challenges.

Through its work with the LCVTP, Ricardo aims to develop technologies offering solutions to the challenges of EV applications across all vehicle segments.

Ricardo will lead in the development of a technology demonstration platform based on a Freelander 2 SUV that has been loaned to the LCVTP team by project participant Jaguar Land Rover.

Development work

The EV technology demonstration platform will be developed through three key stages of work within the LCVTP.

The first will see the vehicle converted from its respective conventional power train into a simple battery EV (BEV) incorporating efficiency-optimised control strategies within the framework of a simple architecture based on a conventional 3kW recharging rate.

This basic BEV implementation is planned for completion in spring 2011.

The stage-two implementation will incorporate location awareness and adaptive route control, along with vehicle-level improvements and the optimisation of weight, parasitic losses and aerodynamics.

The final stage of work will see the vehicle developed into an RE-EV architecture incorporating an advanced auxiliary power unit (a gasoline engine integrated with a generator), developed within the project, for onboard battery recharging.

Scheduled for completion in late 2011, this revised architecture will provide the basis for the development of enhanced control strategies for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and other systems to further optimise comfort and energy efficiency.

Neville Jackson, Ricardo’s chief technology and innovation officer, said: ‘This work will help move the development of EV architectures beyond the city car, quantifying the benefits of a range of new approaches to energy storage, energy management, “smart” control processes and energy-efficient ancillaries, while addressing range-anxiety issues.’


Readers' comments (5)

  • There is absolutely no way a vehicle, any vehicle, can be propelled more economically by interposing an electric motor and batteries between the engine and the drive chain.

    If the same engine driving the generator where instead, connected directly to a conventional drive train, it would burn less fuel, mile for mile. It couldn't be otherwise.

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  • Justin Gudgeon is wrong, because he has not realised that interposing an electric motor and batteries means the engine can always be run at its peak efficiency, which only occurs over a narrow range of its available speed and torque.

    If an engine is going to be needed in order to give electric cars a decent range, it is possible that a Stirling engine will eventually be seen to have benefits since, being an external combustion engine, it can burn a much wider variety of fuels than an internal combustion engine (for example, very low-grade hydrocarbons, or even wood chips). A well-designed Stirling engine is more efficient than an IC, engine although heavier and larger. The size and weight are less important because with a battery for providing peak power, the engine only needs a modest power rating.

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  • I don't see electric cars replacing gas anytime soon but most people don't use them right, they buy one and want to drive it across the country. Most people have two cars. I live in a small town and close to work, an electric car is perfect for what I need. I would use my other car for longer trips.

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  • The issue we should be addressing is thermal efficiency, not mechanical efficiency. The nominal benefit of an IC engine running at constant revs at its max efficiency cannot make up for the thermal inefficiency of a propulsion system which has to convert fuel-energy three-times before it can be deployed.

    First the fuel is converted into mechanical power via an IC engine, then into electrical power via an alternator, then into electrochemical power through the batteries; then back into mechanical power through the electric drive motors. This nonsensical waste of fuel is further exaggerated by the vehicle having to carry round a heavy and expensive load of batteries.

    The Stirling engine has been on the go for nearly 200 years. If it could have been used in any practical sense, then it would have been. In any event, a Stirling engine is only about 42% thermally efficient at best while its power to weight is far less than a primitive steam engine.

    The general public need to understand, (or accept) that electricity is an expensive medium for conducting energy. If it were cheap, we would all heat our houses with it rather than gas or oil.

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  • So Justin, if youre right why is that diesel generator - electric drive has been used in rail locomotives for years with far greater efficiency than diesel alone...

    Agree with you about reducing the number of energy conversions though, so going straight from fuel (Hydrogen) to electricity with a fuel cell seems the best option to me.

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