Company shows lightweight material for electric vehicles

A Danish company has demonstrated that a new lightweight material can help electric vehicles increase their range.

ECOMove’s 400kg QBEAK electric vehicle concept has utilised a new composite material to help it achieve a 300km battery range, almost twice that of other electric vehicles.

The chassis of the QBEAK design was developed by UK-based chassis technology company Inrekor, which claims it can reduce the weight of core vehicle structures by 30 per cent.

Inrekor’s composite chassis consists of two aluminium sheets separated by a layer of ARPRO; a lightweight material already used in certain automotive applications.

‘One of the standard uses of ARPRO in the automotive industry is impact protection,’ said Gary Carr, marketing and communications manager at JSP, which develops and produces ARPRO. ‘So it’s used in places such as the core of bumpers and inside impact panels.

‘It deforms but then reaches a point where it reforms its shape naturally so it’s like a very tough balloon if you like. It’s very good at absorbing energy.’

Carr explained that ARPRO also has desirable insulating properties that can minimise energy usage for heating and air conditioning; further prolonging battery life. In addition, the ARPRO core can improve the driving experience by reducing noise, vibration and harshness.

‘One of the reasons we can use this chassis is because we have developed a new patented wheel unit,’ said ECOMove spokesperon Mogens Løkke. ‘We have developed four independent wheel units on the car that are literally attached to the side of the chassis.

‘EV manufacturers may not have considered this material to build a chassis before but the QBEAK design will showcase it as a viable alternative to traditional materials,’ said Løkke.

Freddy Page Roberts, inrekor sales director told The Engineer that inrekor has developed chassis for a number of power trains.

‘We’ve developed the chassis for the QBEAK to meet this new patented wheel unit,’ he said.

Additionally, the material has already been successfully demonstrated in non-electric vehicles, such as a new ‘Revival’ version of the 1930s Atalanta. Furthermore, crash tests carried out by MIRA confirmed that inrekor’s panels would meet the five-star safety regulations set by the NCAP (National Car Assessment Programme).

The QBEAK model recently won Frost & Sullivan’s 2012 European Electric Vehicles Early Stage Investment Opportunity Award and is due to launch in 2013.