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NTU, TUM research programme yields fast-charging e-taxi

Posted: 22 Nov 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:EV? battery charging? thermal management?

A joint research programme by Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Technische Universit?t Mnchen (TUM) has resulted in the creation of EVA, an electric taxi that can be recharged within 15 minutes. The prototype was unveiled yesterday at the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show.

Transportation companies around the world typically re-purpose passenger cars as taxis. However, the challenge of current electric vehicles is the extremely limited range and long recharge times of up to eight hours making them impractical as taxis. TUM Create aims to address these issues, as well as the unique challenges posed by the heat and humidity in tropical megacities, through its research and development. Unlike temperate climates, passenger cooling and battery pack heat management are issues specific to tropical and equatorial regions.

As a form of public transportation, introducing e-taxis into the local taxi fleets has a high leveraging effect to decrease carbon emissions. "While taxis account for less than 3 per cent of the vehicle population in Singapore, they contribute to 15 per cent of the total distance travelled. The average two-shift taxi covers over 500 km a day," explains Principal Investigator Dr. Daniel Gleyzes.

EVA's charging time was designed to cover a realistic range of 200 km, based on Singapore driving patterns, which will be an industry benchmark.

NTU, TUM research programme yields fast-charging e-taxi

Apart from tackling the energy storage and battery charging challenges, EVA will also feature innovations that are particular to tropical climates. TUM Create's researchers have developed an individualized, overhead air-conditioning system with which they target to reduce the cabin cooling power. Ergonomics studies have shown that localized cooling has a direct impact on the overall thermal comfort. The overhead outlets and the seat ventilation target these areas to create better thermal comfort without the need to cool down the whole cabin. Unoccupied zones can also be switched off to further reduce energy consumption.

Besides the cabin cooling system, EVA's innovative seats provide a maximum comfort for both the driver and passengers driving in humid tropical climate. The ergonomically designed seats are equipped with a purpose-built system where suction draws away moisture and heat from the surfaces of the seat.

The climate controls, in-car entertainment, booking and digital payment systems are also linked via the infotainment system that allows passengers to control air-conditioning and audio settings wirelessly from their personal mobile devices. Similarly, the central control panel and driver's instrument cluster are also connected seamlessly to the on-board systems, and are able to provide driving statistics and power-saving tips to the driver.

"NTU's deep expertise in energy technologies, such as battery systems, wireless charging, and materials science, in combination with TUM's strengths in automotive and electromobility, gave our research team a strong platform in which to design and build EVA on," said TUM President Dr. Wolfgang A. Herrmann. "A robust and energy-efficient electric taxi for use in real world conditions is testimony of our strengths in engineering and how we apply it to make a difference," he added.

This project milestone marks the first time that a Singapore-based organisation is participating and presenting a vehicle in the 59-year history of Asia's most important automotive tradeshow.

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