A Singapore-based EV research program named TUM CREATE has unveiled its electric taxi prototype, code named EVA, during the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show.
TUM CREATE is a joint research program by Technische Universität München (TUM) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the EVA EV taxi serves as a platform to showcase the results of the innovations and developments the research team managed to attain.
TUM explained a key highlight is the car’s superfast charging system. It is designed to be recharged in just 15 minutes to cover a realistic range of 200 kilometers (124.27 miles) based on Singapore driving patterns, which TUM said will be an industry benchmark.
The five door, four seat c-segment EVA compact car is powered by a 60 kilowatt electric motor driving the front wheels. The battery is a 50 kilowatt-hour lithium polymer assembly made of 216 cells. While TUM said this is good for 200 kilometers of Singapore taxi driving duty, it would be rated at 330 kilometers (205 miles) of range if following the U.S. FTP 72 standards.
Features found on EVA include the extensive use of lightweight materials and energy-saving solutions such as individualized overhead air conditioning.
“This new electric taxi for tropical mega cities, developed and constructed by two leading universities, highlights the successful collaboration of TUM and NTU,” said Professor Dr. Wolfgang A. Herrmann, President of Technische Universität München. “The scientific and technological breakthroughs are based on a spirit of mutual trust and understanding. For more than ten years, Technische Universität München has been operating its branch TUM Asia in Singapore, which has a current enrolment of 380 students and produced hundreds alumni. It is a great joy for me to see that our untiring joint efforts, supported by the National Research Foundation, have borne fruits now.”
Professor Bertil Andersson, NTU’s President, stated the technological innovations developed for EVA is a great demonstration of how two of the world’s top engineering universities can successfully collaborate to combine their expertise and knowledge to solve the tough challenges of today.
“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,” Prof Andersson added. “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. It is also a reminder to the world that it is essential for all of us to play a part for our environment and such R&D efforts are an investment towards a more sustainable future for everyone.”
Transportation companies around the world typically re-purpose passenger cars as taxis. However, said TUM, the challenge of current electric vehicles is the extremely limited range and long recharge times (up to 8 hours), making them impractical as taxis.
TUM CREATE added it 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.
TUM researchers believe that 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 percent of the vehicle population in Singapore, they contribute to 15 percent of the total distance traveled,” explains Principal Investigator Dr. Daniel Gleyzes. “The average two-shift taxi covers over 500 km a day.”
EVA was designed from the ground-up as an e-taxi and is a result of interdisciplinary research in the areas of energy storage, battery charging, thermal management, and lightweight materials and design.
Apart from tackling the energy storage and battery charging challenges, EVA will also feature innovations that are particular to tropical climates. TUM said its 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. TUM added that to further reduce energy consumption, unoccupied zones can also be switched off.
Interestingly, TUM found out this system also reduces the exposure of air-borne particles or germs from being blown from one seat to another zone in the vehicle.
Besides the cabin cooling system, TUM said 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.
In addition, TUM explained the front passenger seat folds forward to reveal an integrated child seat for children aged 9 months to 3 years old, which fills the void in the area of safety for young taxi passengers.
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, TUM said 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.