Success in automotive engineering is no longer measured in terms of engine performance, sportiness, and size alone. Today, there is a much greater focus on the transformation of an entire industry – specifically, a clear shift from traditional combustion engines to electric power trains. Along with the rise in fuel prices, increasingly stringent emissions regulations are keeping vehicles out of inner cities. The end appears to be near for conventional means of travel. According to the studies of some market researchers, commonplace combustion-engine vehicles will be in the minority by the year 2030. What remains to be determined is where and how people will be able to recharge their future automobiles in a standard fashion and what manner of payment models there will be.
In the short term, existing automobiles will be outfitted with electric power trains and batteries. Manufacturers will produce them in small quantities to conduct field tests – see as well Electricity Meters 2.0 – and gather experience in model regions for later application in mass production. The creation of a small initial test fleet is to be complete by the end of 2011, followed by market ramp-up until 2016. The corresponding mass market will commence in 2017, with the declared goal of putting one million electric cars on Germany’s roads by 2020.
To help Germany become the leading market for electric mobility, the country has established eight different model regions while merging the automotive and energy industries. The German federal government has also designed a national development plan for electric mobility, which foresees the achievement of a battery energy density of 200 watt-hours per kilogram by 2015. This means that a battery with a capacity of 20 kilowatt-hours would weigh at least 100 kilograms (220 pounds) – see as well eCarTec 2009: Electric Cars.
SAP software helping to distribute electricity
A key component of MeRegio is SAP’s online energy marketplace, which will empower participants to become actively involved in intelligent energy grids. They will also be able to interact with one another, adjust seamlessly to market conditions, and get the most out of renewable and distributed energy sources.
Meanwhile, SAP is also collaborating with MVV Energie on the Future Fleet project, which aims to incorporate up to 100 electric vehicles into SAP’s fleet of company cars. MVV Energie is setting up the necessary charging infrastructure at SAP’s company facilities. Charged with 100%-renewable energy, the fleet is truly green. The current prototypes are offering SAP researchers; Berlin, Germany’s Öko-Institut; and the Institute for Social-Ecological Research of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the chance to examine new requirements in the field of electric mobility. These include additional parameters such as vehicle range and the distance and duration of planned journeys. The Mannheim University of Applied Sciences is providing supplementary scientific support for the project.
These efforts essentially focus on establishing an intelligent management and billing system in which various providers supply electricity to consumers in a decentralized manner. Thanks to sophisticated technology, the cars will only be chargeable when electricity is available at a low price – outside of peak consumption periods, for instance.
The MeRegioMobil project even goes a step further, seeking to implement smart charging stations that turn cars’ batteries into dynamic reserves. It will also be possible to integrate the batteries into smart home energy grids to power household appliances.
SAP is highly involved in this e-mobility project, which intends to integrate electric mobility (an ICT research project of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology) into the grid systems of the future.
Smart fortwo electric drive
Touring the 80th International Motor Show in Geneva, attendees had the chance to discover an entire array of vehicles and concept studies based in part or completely on energy sources other than gasoline or diesel. The current outlook foresees small urban automobiles entering the market first, followed by models from higher performance classes.
Daimler is the world’s first automotive manufacturer to have begun small-series production of a fully electric vehicle. By the end of 2010, the company plans to have up to 1,000 of its smart fortwo cars on the go in cities all over the world. As this venture began with pilot projects in the German-speaking cities of Berlin (100 vehicles), Hamburg, and Zürich (50 vehicles each), the cars were not to be had for any amount of money or kind words: Daimler only offered test leases to select private and business customers. Here are some key performance figures on the compact and dynamic smart fortwo:
With its 16.5kWh lithium-ion battery, the vehicle has a range of nearly 85 miles. Daimler has limited its top speed to 60 miles per hour for the moment, but the smart fortwo’s 30kW (41 horsepower) engine is theoretically capable of at least 87 miles per hour. Using a conventional 230-volt (German) household outlet, the vehicle’s battery can achieve an 80% charge in three and a half hours; a full charge requires eight hours.
Tazzari was also on hand in Geneva to present the conventional autobody of the Tazzari ZERO. Just a bit longer than a smart (9.45 feet) and weighing in at an unrivaled 1195 pounds, this pint-size powerhouse has a range of 87 miles at a maximum of 60 miles per hour. Connected to a 400-volt (three-current) or 230-volt outlet, it can recharge its battery to 80% in just under an hour.
In summary, it is clear that electric cars will have to become more affordable and capable of acceptable distances. The corresponding infrastructure for operation and product capacity will also be necessary, whereby the only sensible power sources will be renewable – such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy.