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Ecooter: Cruising between cars and motorbikes

Posted: 02 Jan 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Ecooter? concept car? electric car?

The threat of energy depletion and the ever-worsening pollution of the environment have brought the search for alternative energy sources and the development of environmental protection technologies to the forefront of all industries, particularly the automotive sector. Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has been conducting R&D work with these two aims in mind, and has combined vehicle, battery and information technologies into a concept car, which has been touted as the Ecooter.

The Ecooter is a four-wheel transporter designed for two persons, the driver and a passenger behind. It is only 1.1m wide (slimmer than regular cars with a width of 1.7m), 2.45m long and 1.5m high. The compact design makes it very nimble in confined city areas and solves parking problems. The battery-powered vehicle consumes only a third of the power used by traditional cars, and is expected to improve the energy usage in the city. It is also anticipated to bring new business opportunities into Taiwan's automotive industry.

Security, safety
Ivan T. C. Wu, ITRI's vice president and general director of the Mechanical and Systems Research Laboratories, noted that Taiwan automobile electronic manufacturers have accumulated technologies in the vehicle information, security and safety segments. Some of the technologies integrated into the Ecooter are an off-road alarm systemwherein the road is identified and an alarm goes off when there is risk of the vehicle going off-roadand an anti-tilting system to keep it from rolling over in sharp turns. This is particularly important because the vehicle has a rhombic four-wheel chassis system, the simplest structure for achieving 360 turning with a radius of only 1.2m.

The concept car features LED headlights and taillights, wireless communication and navigation. Instead of the traditional rearview mirror, the car features two cameras to give a clear and complete picture with no dead spots. A camera is also located in front to provide a clearer picture of road conditions ahead.

Powered by Li-ion batteries, the Ecooter solves the problem of vehicle emissions. The unique design of its electrical output system and the installation of motors directly on its tires make for a simplified body structure. In addition, it has a lightweight body with lift-up doors.

The Ecooter is touted to solve the problem of vehicle emissions.

City-use transportation
James Wang, director of ITRI's Intelligent Mobility Technology Division, says that the Ecooter sports a removable battery and fast charging mode. Most electric cars in operation take six to eight hours to charge, but the Ecooter's large-current fast- charging mode recharges 80 percent of the battery's capacity in 15mins. A completely charged battery can take the vehicle over 100km, with a top speed of 65kph. "This kind of application also needs an electric power supply environment, including charge stations," noted Wang.

Wang emphasized that the Ecooter is designed as city-use transportation. Thus, its objective is energy saving rather than performance or coziness. However, Wang reiterated that the "Ecooter provides safety and ease, which are absent in motorcycles, and saves unnecessary space, size and fuel consumption of cars, so it is a highly mobile personal transport platform between the motorcycle and the car."

|The ITRI MSL team spent 22 months to transform the Ecooter from a concept into a real product. Now the Ecooter is waiting to go from prototype to production. According to Wang, "The development of the Ecooter can bring a global competition advantage for Taiwan. This lightweight vehicle and its components can both help introduce new business opportunity for Taiwan industry and set up a new paradigm for global metropolitan mobility."

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