Low cost drivetrain developed for all-electric inner city van

Written by: Justin Cunningham | Published:

Most people involved with or even interested in motorsport will have come across driveline technology specialist Xtrac. The Berkshire-based company is well known for its innovations in transmission systems and was one of the early movers in pursuing hybrid technology.

Now, however, Xtrac is taking its transmission knowledge and transferring it to a new market in the form of an all-electric inner city van called StreetScooter. The single-speed gearbox and differential has been specially developed for front-wheel drive electric vehicles. It is to soon build an additional 65 transmissions for large-scale appraisal by a major fleet operator prior to commencing low volume series production.

"We are delighted to be a technical partner for this sustainable and affordable electric vehicle," says Clive Woolmer general manager of Xtrac's automotive and engineering business. "We have built three transmissions for test and development and are well on our way to a final validation of the design.

"It was a challenging brief as StreetScooter aims to build a low-cost vehicle in relatively low volumes. The best way to achieve this in the transmission has been to keep it simple with as few parts as possible, but offering a high level of reliability and durability to minimise operating costs during the life of the vehicle."

StreetScooter is a multi-functional light commercial vehicle for a variety of service industry and trade roles. It features an extended wheelbase and has a cargo capacity of about 4m3. It is designed for city use and has a power rating of 30-45kW (40-60bhp) generated by a lithium-ion battery and induction motor. The maximum range of the vehicle is around 120km (75 miles) and the maximum speed is 85kph (53mph).

The vehicle is inspired by the desire to build an electric vehicle that is comparatively priced to conventional vehicles but is also sustainable.

The electric vehicle can be tailored for a variety of roles to suit local tradesmen, utility companies, service engineers, rental firms and larger fleet operations that need to operate quietly and efficiently with zero carbon emissions in an inner city environment. StreetScooter says that operator acquisition and maintenance costs and the total cost of ownership have been given top priority.

Professor Achim Kampker, chief executive of StreetScooter, says: "We are in an excellent competitive position. There is considerable interest in our eco-friendly urban electric vehicle and our ability to customise it on the production line for different trades and commercial vehicle applications."

Xtrac has also recently designed a hybridised automated manual transmission to allow future luxury supercars to meet the 95g/km CO2 emission requirement being introduced by European legislators in 2020.

The prototype gearbox is aimed at vehicle manufacturers competing in the high-growth sector of premium luxury road cars, which includes limousines as well as supercars. Dubbed the 1010 H-AMT, it has a high torque-carrying capability and uses innovative transverse gear cluster orientation.

Xtrac believes its distinctive transverse transmission configuration lends itself particularly well to hybridisation and offers a compelling solution to the supercar sector's preference for retaining high power, multi cylinder engines while meeting 2020 emission targets. The transmission can handle engine torque capacities ranging from 800 to 1,000Nm dependent on vehicle gross weight and the particular application.

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