Last Updated: February 2020 by Narasimhan Santhanam
This post is a part of EV Next’s EV Perspectives.
EV Next, a division of EAI, is a leading market intelligence & strategic consulting firm for the Indian e-mobility sector.
Innovations are happening aplenty globally along the entire electric vehicle value chain. In India too, there are innovations and R&D efforts, though by global standards one should say that the Indian efforts are likely to be less impactful to fundamental EV technologies. Automotive manufacturers globally are investing heavily in research and development to produce advanced BMS solutions for effectively facilitating electrical aging characteristics due to induced vibrations in rechargeable energy storage systems.
Faraday Future, a start-up technology company focused on the development of intelligent electric vehicles, is using COMSOL Multiphysics software, a multiphysics finite element analysis program, to produce cutting-edge electric motors with high power density. AUDI is developing thin-film solar panels to be fitted into the panoramic glass roofs of its car designs. This technology aims to generate solar energy in order to increase the range of its forthcoming electric vehicles.
- GE – NASA (September 19, 2019) GE is partnering with the NASA Advanced Air Vehicles Program (AAVP) on a new generation of the inverter using GE’s Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology. The project aims to deliver a next-gen inverter that provides significantly increased power density over existing technology but is small enough to support electric flight. GE has been a leader in SiC technology development for nearly two decades. The technology offers significant advantages over silicon-based electronics. One of the most important for aviation is heat tolerance. According to GE, silicon carbide “can work at temperatures unreachable by silicon chips, and can operate at much higher frequencies because these devices are much more efficient. SiC-based devices can also manage the same level of power as Si devices but at half the size and weight.” The NASA/GE collaboration will be a 50/50 cost share between the two entities. NASA has been researching electric aircraft architectures since the early 2000s. The organization has developed several experimental aircraft that demonstrate electrical propulsion concepts.
- A research team from the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (August 2019) or IIT-Madras has officially developed the world’s first iron-ion battery. The newly-developed battery promises a low-cost stable alternative to the existing mainstream lithium-ion battery. The iron-ion battery is made using an anode made from low-carbon steel, instead of pure iron, along with a cathode made of vanadium pentoxide, which is suitable for the movement of iron ion, due to its larger gap. The iron-ion battery is also equipped with an electrolyte made using iron chlorate. Developed by IIT-Madras, the iron-ion battery are much more cost-effective, and features slightly better storage capacity and stability compared to the traditional lithium-ion batteries. According to the IIT-Madras research team’s finding, iron-ion batteries are also safer to use than lithium batteries due to the inability of iron to produce dendrites during the charging process and therefore, prevent short-circuiting of the batteries.
- The Lilium has begun seeking approval from European and U.S. regulators, making the model the first electric jet in history to enter certification. The world’s first all-electric vertical takeoff and landing passenger jet have been unveiled after completing its first flight (May 2019). German startup Lilium aims to have a fleet of the five-seat aircraft — which can operate with a pilot or in drone mode — flying in cities worldwide by 2025. Lilium has $100 million in funds and must raise at least the same amount again to bring the model to market while adding hundreds of more jobs to its payroll of 300 people.
- The world’s first road that allows electric vehicles to recharge (April 2019) as they drive has been installed on 2 km (1.2 miles) of the public road just outside Stockholm Sweden. The road’s builder and sponsor, the eArlanda consortium, explains that energy is transferred from two tracks of rail embedded in the road. As the vehicle moves over the rail, a movable arm on the bottom of an electric car or truck detects its location and moves into contact with it. The rail is connected to the power grid and divided into 50-m sections, with an individual section powered only when a vehicle is above it. Energy is delivered at 200 kW. When a vehicle stops, the current is disconnected. There’s no electricity on the surface—the electricity is 5-6 cm down from the surface—and eArlanda claims you could walk safely on the track. The system is able to calculate the vehicle’s energy consumption, which enables electricity costs to be determined and charged per vehicle and user.
- Sweden’s Volvo Buses and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) (March 2019) has unveiled a full-size (12-meter) autonomous electric bus for testing on the university campus. The 85-passenger Volvo 7900 Electric bus is equipped with sensors and navigation controls that are managed by a comprehensive artificial-intelligence (AI) system developed by NTU researchers. The AI system also comes with cybersecurity and firewall measures to safeguard against potential security threats. According to Volvo, the bus requires 80% less energy to operate than an equivalent diesel-powered bus. The bus is equipped with Volvo’s autonomous research platform that’s integrated with key controls and multiple sensors, including light detection and ranging sensors (LiDAR), 360-degree stereo cameras that can capture images in 3D, and a global navigation satellite system that uses real-time kinematics. This is similar to any other global positioning system (GPS) but uses multiple data sources to provide location accuracy up to one centimeter.
- Volkswagen (January 2019) offered a glimpse of a future mobile quick-charging station that can be set up flexibly and independently of the power supply. The mobile charging station works by using the principle of a power bank, which is familiar to people with smartphones, but on a larger scale. Its charging capacity of up to 360 kWh enables up to 15 EVs, including members of Volkswagen’s new ID family, to be charged in standalone operation. The ID series comprises electric cars that will cover a distance of 400 to 600 km on a single battery charge. The first production version of the ID series is due to be launched in 2020 at a price.
- Fast, convenient charging solutions increase the attractiveness of electric vehicles (EVs). Recently, the research consortium Fast Charge presented a prototype for a 450-kW output charging station in Jettingen-Scheppach, located near the A8 motorway between Ulm and Augsburg, Germany. The charging capacity of the new fast charger is three to nine times as high as what’s currently possible with dc charging stations today. At this ultra-fast charging station, electrically powered research vehicles from BMW and Porsche (January 2019) created as part of the project demonstrated charging times of less than three minutes for the first 100 kilometers of range or 15 minutes for a full charge (10-80% state of charge, SOC) of the BMW i3’s high-voltage battery, which has a net capacity of 57 kWh.
- Toyota Unveils Motor Magnet with Less Scarce Metal
Toyota has developed an electric vehicle motor magnet that uses half as much neodymium as compatible products, aiming to stave off supply disruptions in the rare-earth element that could come as major producer China toughens environmental regulations.
The Japanese automaker said it had developed “the world’s first neodymium-reduced, heat-resistant magnet.” The plan is to commercialize the components for power steering motors by the first half of the 2020s and for electric vehicles within a decade. (Feb 21, 2018)
- Techrules Reveals Track-Only Ren RS with Six Electric Motors Ahead of Geneva Debut
Techrules revealed the production design for its high-performance RenRS supercar at the 88th Geneva Motor Show. The performance-focused Techrules Ren RS is a new single-seat, light-weight variant of the Ren supercar first previewed at last year’s Geneva Motor Show. Presenting a similar dramatic, aerospace-inspired design and fighter jet-style canopy, the Ren RS has been crafted by world-renowned automotive designers Fabrizio and Giorgetto Giugiaro.
Designed for track use only, Ren RS has been honed for high performance racing by renowned motorsport specialist L.M. Gianetti of Turin. The Ren RS can be configured with four or six electric motors – with the latter configuration featuring two motors at the front and four at the rear, delivering a maximum power of 960 kW (1,287 hp/1,305 ps) to launch the car from 0-100 kph in just 3 seconds and on to a maximum speed of 330 kph. (Feb 20, 2018)
- Renault Upgrades Zoe with More Powerful Electric Motor
The French automaker unveiled the new R110 electric motor for the 2018 model-year Zoe. The Renault Zoe got its big model year update a year ago with an updated ~200 miles range on a 41 kWh battery pack. This year it gets a smaller, but still welcomed update with a slightly more powerful electric motor. (Feb 19, 2018)
Motor and Battery of the Renault Zoe
- VW’s New Concept is a Fully Self-driving Car with No Steering Wheel
Volkswagen is adding a fourth car to its futuristic I.D. lineup of concepts, which has been displayed in full at the Geneva Motor Show. Called the I.D. Vizzion, it’s a long, low sedan with no steering wheel or pedals, and it’s meant to exhibit how the company is thinking of a future where we all routinely step into a fully electric autonomous car that does the work for us.
It’s also part of Volkswagen Group’s — VW’s parent company — pledge to add electric motors to its entire lineup by 2030. VW alone plans to introduce 20 electrified cars by 2025.
Much like the other I.D. concepts — the Buzz bus, the Crozz crossover, and the original I.D. — the Vizzion will be relatively powerful and quick. A 111kWh battery pack will help the car last for up to 665 kilometers (413 miles) on a single charge, according to VW. Equipped with dual electric motors, the car has a total power output of 225 kW (roughly 302 horsepower) and a top speed of 180 kilometers per hour (112 mph). (Feb 19, 2018)
- PPG Forms Mobility Team to Develop Paint, Coatings For Self-driving Cars
PPG has formed a new team to look exclusively at how innovations in paint and coatings can help autonomous and electric vehicles.
PPG developed a dark paint that the LiDAR can see through so it reflects off of the coating below it. The easy-clean coatings change the way water and other substances stick and cling to surfaces. For electric cars, PPG designed coatings that can store and transfer energy.
The company said the new coatings are still being tested in-house and haven’t made their ways onto public streets. (Feb 19, 2018)
- ON Semiconductor Partners with Audi on Electronics For Autonomous and Electric Vehicles
ON Semiconductor of Phoenix, AZ, USA – which supplies power management, analog, sensors, logic, timing, connectivity, discrete, system-on-chip (SoC) and custom devices for automotive, communications, computing, consumer, industrial, medical, aerospace and defense applications – has announced a strategic relationship with Audi AG following its selection to become part of the German car maker’s Progressive SemiConductor Program (PSCP).
The goal of the interdisciplinary semiconductor strategy is to foster innovation along with quality and make the latest technologies available for Audi models early on, satisfying the rapidly changing and developing expectations of customers in terms of performance, reliability, safety and operating convenience. (Feb 5, 2018)
- BP to Test Mobile Electric Vehicle Chargers in the UK
BP is to roll out mobile electric vehicle rapid charging systems at selected retail sites across the UK and Europe after investing Rs. 325 million (£3.53 million) in US-based manufacturer FreeWire Technologies.
The investment into FreeWire’s Mobi Charger units comes from BP Ventures, which identifies and invests in private ‘game-changing’ technology companies to accelerate innovations across the entire energy spectrum.
While primarily focused on emerging technologies in oil and gas, a new strategy incorporating advanced mobility as well as power and storage has seen the cash moved towards the mobile charging company in light of the growing trend towards electric vehicles. (Jan 30, 2018)
- Electric Car From a Junked Toyota Celica
Adam Lansing cruises around in his own homemade electric car, but getting to this point took a lot of work.
Now 18 and recently graduated from Plano East High School in Texas, Lansing has a fully functional electric vehicle with a 130-mile range. He didn’t have to do everything alone, acquiring sponsorships from Core IV and Plasma Boy Racing. They supplied the 30-kilowatt-hour lithium ion phosphate battery pack that currently powers the Celica. It’s mounted in the trunk. (Jan 26, 2018)
- UK Government Injects Rs. 240 Million into Vehicle-to-Grid Trials
A consortium of energy firms and network operators has received a Rs. 240 million funding injection from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to develop the first large-scale UK trial of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging infrastructure.
The consortium consisting of Octopus Energy, Octopus Electric Vehicles, UK Power Networks, ChargePoint Services, Open Energi, Navigant and the Energy Saving Trust will deliver the Rs. 561 million project and install 135 V2G chargers later this year.
The aim of the project is to deliver a cluster of V2G chargers that will create a research opportunity to examine the impact of widespread electric vehicle (EV) use in the UK. The Rs. 240 million fund will be provided by BEIS and OLEV and delivered by Innovate UK. (Jan 25, 2018)
- Singapore’s First Flash-Charging Electric Shuttle to be Trialed at Nanyang Technological University
As part of its recently announced Smart Campus initiative, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and BlueSG Pte. Ltd., a subsidiary of Blue Solutions owned by the Bolloré Group, have launched Singapore’s first flash-charging electric shuttle.
Named the NTU-Blue Solutions Flash Shuttle, the shuttle is equipped with super capacitors and a LMP (Lithium Metal Polymer) battery developed by Blue Solutions and it can travel two kilometres on a single charge, with backup power that provides for an additional 30 kilometres.
The fully electric vehicle only requires 20 seconds to recharge at stations which are fitted for its quick charging while passengers board and alight, enabling emission-free continuous operation. Thereby the Bluetram replicates the efficiency of trams without the need for offline charging, unlike other electric vehicles that function solely on batteries. (Jan 24, 2018)
- Samsung SDI Unveils Innovative Battery Products at Detroit Motor Show
Samsung SDI exhibited a brand new fast-charging, high-capacity battery material as well as cutting-edge battery products for electric vehicles at 2018 Detroit Motor Show.
Samsung SDI is capable of unparalleled product competitiveness with a lineup of various battery cells for electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) which come in 37, 50, 60 and 94 ampere hour capacities. The lineup is highlighted by battery cells with energy densities high enough to propel EVs as far as 600 kilometers after just a 20-minute charge. (Jan 14, 2018)
- Electric Vehicles and Advances in 3-D Printing among Composite Innovations at CES 2018
During CES 2018 in Las Vegas, attendees will have the opportunity to see a wide range of new innovations that feature composite materials. One of the most anticipated vehicles set to debut at the show is the Fisker “EMotion” – an electric vehicle with a body structure made of carbon fiber composites and aluminum.
Fisker says that the composite structure exceeds current safety standards, while its light carbon fiber and aluminum wheels reduce rotational mass by 40 percent. Back in June, they reported that in addition to its composite structure, the EMotion would feature a unique battery system that would incorporate graphene. However, since then, the joint venture Fisker created with Nanotech Energy to create the batteries has been dissolved.
The EMotion, which is expected to hit the market in 2019, is said to have a 400-mile range and a top speed of 161 mph. Additionally, the founder says the car will be autonomous-capable and able to connect to the environment around it. Lidar sensors are mounted in front to assist in 3-D mapping and identifying objects. (Jan 8, 2018)
- Tesla isn’t the Only Company Creating Cool Electric Vehicles Anymore
The MINI Electric Concept – Unveiled by BMW in Germany in August, MINI’s electric hatchback is the company’s first electric concept car. The vehicle will be powered by a lithium-ion battery, but the automaker hasn’t released details about the concept vehicle’s range or efficiency. With the car’s bold yellow accent bar and flashy rims, company officials have touted its design.
Jaguar’s I-PACE Concept – In addition to zero emissions, the I-PACE Concept offers future drivers 400 horsepower and 0‑60 mph in around 4 seconds
Bollinger B1 – The boxy truck offers all-wheel drive, 360 horsepower and 6,000 pounds of towing capacity, a 200-mile range and a top speed of 127 mph
Volkswagen Bus – Volkswagen’s iconic microbus hit its cultural peak during the counterculture days of the 1960s and 1970s. Though variations of the original model are lionized on Instagram by off-the-grid types everywhere, Volkswagen is hoping a new generation of electric microbuses will again capture the popular imagination when they return to dealerships in 2022.
Volkswagen estimates the bus will have a 300-mile range and a front trunk, like the original VW Beetle.
BMW i8 Roadster – Able to reach 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and with a striking exterior that includes butterfly doors and a soft top, the BMW i8 Roadster looks the part of a flashy sports car. And yet, the i8 — which BMW calls “an icon of progress” — is a plug-in hybrid with a 330-mile range. An electric motor drives the front wheels, while a gasoline engine handles the rear. (Dec 1, 2017)
BMW i8 Roadster
- Innovative Motor Designs for Electric Cars Come to Life
Faraday Future, a start-up technology company focused on the development of intelligent electric vehicles, is using COMSOL Multiphysics software, a multiphysics finite element analysis program, to produce cutting-edge electric motors with high power density.
The organization is also taking an innovative, modular approach to electric vehicle design. Omar Laldin, lead electromagnetic engineer at Faraday Future, explained: “My group develops motor designs for a generic set of vehicles, primarily suited to our variable platform architecture, which allows for modular development of electric vehicle powertrains. We can add or remove motors, adjust battery quantities, and collapse or increase the size of the chassis.
- Tesla’s Latest Creation: An Electric Big Rig that can Travel 500 Miles on a Single Charge
Tesla finally took the wraps off its long-anticipated electric semi-truck, a truck that Elon Musk said would blow people’s minds into an “alternate dimension.”
A fully loaded Tesla truck moving 60 mph can travel 500 miles on a single battery charge. The truck includes four independent motors, Musk said, and has no gears or transmission, meaning that it will require much less maintenance. He guaranteed the truck will not break down for 1 million miles. (Nov 17, 2017)
- AUDI Developing Solar Panels to Help Power its Electric Vehicles
Together with Alta devices, AUDI are developing thin-film solar panels to be fitted into the panoramic glass roofs of its car designs. This technology aims to generate solar energy in order to increase the range of its forthcoming electric vehicles, such as the already previewed ‘e-tron sportback’ as well as its small size and flexibility, the green innovations claim to have an efficiency of 25% and perform well even in low light conditions.
- These Self-Charging Car Batteries Could Revolutionize the Electric Car
Self-charging batteries in electrics cars could become an actual thing in the future.
According to researchers at Warwick University’s Energy and Innovations Centre, the answer could lie in what’s known as fuel cells.
“What we would envisage in the future is a combination of an electric vehicle with its electric battery combined with a fuel cell acting as what you would call a range extender so you’ve got an electric vehicle that produces no emissions, when the battery gets a little bit depleted the fuel cell will then recharge the battery,” said Mark Amor-Segan principal research engineer, Energy and Innovations Centre, University of Warwick. (Oct 23, 2017)
- Five of the Most Innovative Self-Driving and Electric Car Designs Revealed at Frankfurt Motor Show
Renault Symbioz – Renault has revealed an autonomous, electric concept car that it sees as an extension of the home – the company describes the vehicle as “an extra mobile, modular and multi-purpose room”.
The car’s exterior is designed to resemble the architecture of the contemporary home, with a steel frame, expansive windows and wooden joinery details. The vehicle also connects to the home wirelessly, just like many of today’s domestic appliances.
Smart Vision EQ ForTwo – Smart has envisioned a different approach to car sharing with this autonomous, electric, two-seater concept vehicle.
Designed to bridge the gap between public and personal transport, the EQ ForTwo offers even more personalization than current car-share schemes like Uber – the Black Panel Grille at the front of the vehicle allows the user to recognize “their” car by displaying their name on it.
The new vehicle has no steering wheel or pedals, freeing passengers from the thought – let alone the task – of driving. This also allows more interior space for passengers to relax in.
Honda Urban EV Concept – The vehicle’s design is futuristic but nostalgically retro, referencing Honda’s 1970s Civic and N600 models.
The car’s low and wide proportions give it a “planted, muscular stance”, suggesting it will provide a sporty driving performance. It is slightly smaller than the Jazz Supermini, measuring 3.9 metres long.
The Urban EV can accommodate four passengers across two bench seats, which may change to five when the production version is released. Interactive messages can be displayed on a screen at the front of the car, including greetings, advice for other drivers on the road and charging status updates.
Audi Aicon – With no steering wheel and no pedals, the only human intervention required in Audi’s electric self-driving Aicon concept vehicle is the use of the touch-sensitive control panel that allows passengers to watch films, search the internet, make video calls or use social media.
BMW i-Vision Dynamics – Its new i-Vision Dynamics concept car is a four-door Gran Coupe with a range of 600 kilometres (373 miles), a top speed of over 200 kms/h (120 mph) and acceleration of 0-100 kms/h (62 mph) in four seconds. It has been described by critics as a competitor for Tesla. (Sep 13, 2017)
- New Lithium-Ion Battery from Japan Could Double Electric Vehicle Range
Most of today’s electric vehicles can’t travel as far as gas-fueled vehicles – but they could edge much closer thanks to a new lithium-ion battery developed in Japan. GS Yuasa claims their potentially game-changing battery could double the driving range of small EVs – and the company plans to start mass producing the new batteries in about three years. (Aug 10, 2017)
- Here’s the Innovation Behind Toyota’s Fast-Charging Electric Cars that will Start Selling by 2022
In what can be seen as tough competition to electric vehicles major Tesla, Toyota – which has already established itself as a hybrid electric vehicles leader, is now making a mark into the segment with several new innovations up its sleeves.
Toyota’s new range of electric-powered cars will use solid-state batteries which will allow it to be recharged in just a few minutes.
Solid state batteries, the innovation Toyota and some other car makers are banking on, are basically batteries that use solid electrolytes rather than liquid ones. They are considered much safer than lithium-ion batteries widely used in electric cars at present. (Jul 26, 2017)
- Instantly Rechargeable’ Battery Could Change the Future of Electric and Hybrid Automobiles
John Cushman, Purdue University distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary science and a professor of mathematics, is commercializing a technology that could provide an “instantly rechargeable” method for electric and hybrid vehicle batteries through a quick and easy process similar to refueling a car at a gas station.
The innovation could expedite the adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles by eliminating the time needed to stop and re-charge a conventional electric car’s battery and dramatically reducing the need for new infrastructure to support re-charging stations. (Jun 1, 2017)
- Three Groundbreaking Innovations for the Electric Car Battery
New Types of Batteries
Another path of investigation is the creation of new types of batteries, what could be used in many other industries such as smartphones or energy storage. One result of all the research in this path is zinc batteries created by EnZinc, which are cheaper, lighter and safer than the lithium-ion ones.
- Wireless Charging
Engineers at Witricity think that a possible solution for charging batteries is doing so not only with a cable charger, but also wirelessly all around the place, what could also be applied to many other industries. This could be possible thanks to the technology invented at the MIT, which is based on using magnetic resonance to charge batteries over distances and even through different materials.
- Adapting Solutions
Sometimes the solution for complex problems is very simple and that is why the Swedish Government is working with different companies to take an already existing solution into EV. The idea is using overhead wiring for electric trucks, and they are now carrying some test in a two-kilometre pilot stretch. In Sweden, they are also thinking of using an energized rail embedded in the road surface, from which vehicles could take the necessary power to hugely increase their autonomy. (May 9, 2017)
- An Innovative Concept For Charging Electric Vehicles in Cities: The Charging Tower
City charging is one of the main problems to solve for electric vehicle infrastructure – especially charging for people who have to park on the street.
An architecture firm presented a new concept to solve the issue: a “charging tower”.
Ennead Architects, a renowned architecture firm based in New York, presented the new concept through its ‘Ennead Lab’ which attempts to “ask and answer complex questions” with innovative designs.
It was clearly partly inspired by Tesla’s Superchargers since the charging stalls are visible at the bottom of the tower and they use renders of the Model S: (Apr 5, 2017)
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See also the blog posts:
- Fuel Cell Research Effort in India – R&D in Fuel Cells – IISc, IITs, VSSC
- EV Battery Innovations – New Anode/Cathode Chemistry, BMS, Nanotech for Electric Vehicle Batteries
- Innovative EV Companies in India – Pioneering Indian Startups in Electric Vehicles – Batteries, Scooters, BMS…
Comprehensive Inputs on Indian EV Ecosystem
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Categories: E-mobility, Electric Vehicles, EV Innovations, EV R&D, EV Research and Innovations
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