What's the secret to long-range urban electric driving in the tropics? Individualized overhead air-conditioning units, apparently. Tum Create, a collaboration between two engineering schools, Technische Universität München (TUM) in Germany and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, is currently showing off its Eva taxi at the Tokyo Motor Show.

The Eva takes just 15 minutes to recharge enough to provide a "realistic range" of about 120 miles. Tum Create touts features such as great battery technology and lightweight production materials, but the team appears to be most excited about the individualized overhead air-conditioning units that can comfort taxi passengers while minimizing battery drain. So now we know.

Taxi cabs can be a sensible place to deploy electric vehicle technology since the combination of extensive mileage, good access to charging points and largely limited highway driving. E-taxis are in use in, among many other places, New York City, Bogota, Columbia and Hangzhou, China. The Tum Create team, which has been working together for about three years, notes that taxis account for about 15 percent of all the driving done in Singapore even though the vehicles only account for about three percent of all vehicles there. Check out Tum Create's press release below.
Show full PR text
TUM CREATE showcases future EV technologies with e-taxi launch at Tokyo

Features 15-minute super-fast charging as solution to EV range challenge Extensive use of energy- and weight-saving materials and technologies Infotainment system allows passengers to control climate and audio via mobile devices

TOKYO, JAPAN (21 November 2013) - TUM CREATE has unveiled its electric taxi prototype, codenamed EVA, at the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show today. It will be on display at Booth 8 in West Hall 4 of the Tokyo Big Sight from 22 November to 1 December 2013.

EVA serves as a platform to showcase the results of the innovations and developments at TUM CREATE, a joint research programme by Technische Universität München (TUM) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

A key highlight is the car's super-fast charging system. It is designed to be recharged in just 15 minutes to cover a realistic range of 200 km (based on Singapore driving patterns), which will be an industry benchmark. Other features found on EVA include the extensive use of lightweight materials and energy-saving solutions such as individualized overhead air-conditioning.

Professor Dr. Wolfgang A. Herrmann, President of Technische Universität München, said, "This new electric taxi for tropical mega cities, developed and constructed by two leading universities, highlights the successful collaboration of TUM and NTU. 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, said 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, 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 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 of the total distance travelled," 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.

TUM CREATE is funded by the Campus for Research Excellence And Technological Enterprise (CREATE) programme under the National Research Foundation (NRF), an agency of Singapore's Prime Minister's Office.

Professor Low Teck Seng, NRF's Chief Executive Officer, said, "The launch of this prototype electric- vehicle today marks a major milestone for TUM CREATE. In the short time since TUM and NTU came together at CREATE in 2010 with support from the NRF, they have developed strong research and engineering capabilities in e-vehicular technology resulting in this demonstrator. With EVA, we have a public commuter car that is green, energy-efficient, and tailored for a tropical urban environment. We look forward to this partnership strengthening in the years to come."

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

EVA feature highlights:
•• • • •
Super-fast charging; Individualized air-conditioning; Interactive infotainment system; and Integrated child-seats.
EVA's super-fast charging system is designed to achieve a re-charge in just 15 minutes. This allows the car to be driven for 200 km with the air-conditioning switched on, based on the driving patterns of Singaporean taxis collected by TUM CREATE. With its fast recharge times, EVA can achieve long ranges with short downtimes - as charging can be performed during the driver's rest breaks.
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. Interestingly, 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, 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, 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, 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.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Air-conditioning presents a big problem for EV's. Although the overall power draw of a modern rotary compressor is less than it used to be, the large glass area makes cars a difficult space to air-condition economically.. I'm intrigued to find out how well the "individualized overhead air-conditioning." works. Contrary to popular belief, refrigerated air-conditioning doesn't really work by blowing cold air, but by extracting heat through a heat pump, thereby lowering (or raising) the temperature. ( "conditioning' the air ). For less humid climates, we have been developing an evaporative air-cooling system for commercial vehicles, that uses only a tiny fraction of the power of a refrigerated system, The system is far more environmental using no chemical refrigerant, and can be operated while the vehicle is stationary for long periods with very little power draw. An additional advantage is the system will cool the entire vehicle within 90 seconds of being switched on. We hope to have completed trails by October 2014, and commence commercialization by 2015.
        DarylMc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Hi Marcopolo That sounds like a really interesting project. I've always thought there was much room for improvement in automotive AC and especially so with EV's. Evaporative cooling was extremely popular in Mt Isa compared to Brisbane where I am from. What I did notice though was that in houses, refrigerated AC was replacing a lot of it even though it was a fairly ideal climate for evaporative cooling. As far as the whole world goes I think a reverse cycle heat pump is the way for EV's to do their heating and cooling. With an EV there is the possibility to use a hermetic compressor (like your refrigerator). It does not have a high pressure shaft seal like automotive compressors and should offer clear efficiency and maintenance benefits. When it comes to heating, reverse cycle AC has massive efficiency benefits over other methods. I imagine that there is a certain amount of heat from the batteries and electronics in EV's and it would be good if some of that was able to be used as well. Perhaps EV manufacturers are already doing this but I am not aware. What this car does or has at least attempted to address is to apply the available cooling in a more effective manner within the vehicle. Best wishes to them and I look forward to reading more about it. A compelling comfort advantage for EV's over ICE vehicles would be a good outcome for EV's. It may be that EV's can avoid some of the extreme temperatures which can occur in various climates especially while they are plugged in. That probably wouldn't be an environmental benefit but in reality not everything humans do is.
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          @ DarylMc Hi, Daryl, yes I live in Toorak, Melbourne. The tram is a great way to travel when wandering home form the pub ! (Avoids embarrassing questions with earnest young men in blue uniforms about my beverage consumption, and much friendlier than taxi's). I love trams, and am fortunate to live in a city with the world largest tram network. I do understand what you say when you talk about the movement of volumes of air, and Evap's are not perfect for every application. However, for those application which are suitable the power saving are dramatic ! Evap's are also much healthier than refrigerated systems, and we look forward to releasing all the technical information upon commercialisation. In the meantime, I must concentrate on more mundane activities to fund such projects. We also organise support for several other research project's, including genetically enhanced livestock that don't produce methane. ( Practical solutions for environmental issues :)
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          @ DarylMc, G'day Daryl, As I write this I'm riding on a really big EV, after a night at the Botanical Hotel ( No 8 Tram ). ( I love trams) . Evaporative cooling is very economical as only a centrifugal ( Barrel ) fan is employed. Evap's do require thirty air changes per hour for maximum effect, but the power usage is infinitesimal in comparison to refrigerated systems.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Hi Marcopolo Ahhh trams. I take it you are in Melbourne. Despite the overhead spider web of cables and having to negotiate the tracks (often on 2 wheels), I think they are an excellent addition to a city. I actually rode them too and got a small taste of a life where you don't need to own, drive and park a car for an evening out. I've never lived in a climate which plays nice with evaporative cooling including Mt Isa which had quite a few days during summer of high humidity and over 40 degree heat. So my experience regarding the whole world is a bit limited. I believe there is probably a point where pumping huge volumes of air makes refrigerated AC (applied correctly) look relatively efficient. Air is not without weight to move around. It's not quite the same scale of course but at my last job there was a 2000 horsepower electric motor driving a barrel fan and that was just to “assist” the natural airflow up a tall chimney. Do you see what i mean when I say AC can be quite efficient, especially when compared to something moving huge volumes of air? At a guess I imagine your project is pumping air through a membrane or grid with some coatings and that’s going to add to the load too. No need for you to tell me since I will be happy to be amazed when I read about it.  Smaller areas to be heated or cooled, insulation, smarter ways of distributing it, I think there is a lot that can be improved with automotive AC. This taxi project seems to be taking a good look at that. I don't think the imperative to optimise automotive AC has been there until electric cars arrived with their limited energy source and I’m sure many improvements will come.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Hi Marcopolo Absorbing heat (cooling), moving it around and dissipating it somewhere else, refrigerated AC is very efficient at this. Obviously evaporative cooling works in the right conditions but I wonder how much power can be saved for comparable comfort. If the system has a large airflow the power used by this can be quite substantial as well. What does sound interesting is being able to remove moisture from the air. I have only ever seen refrigerated systems condensing water used to do this. No doubt however they go about it will use some energy as well. I'm quite sceptical but best wishes with it.
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          @ DarylMc. We currently have a JVC with a US company researching a method of eliminating the humidity from evaporative cooling, while recycling the water although in it's infancy, the research show great potential. We live in interesting times !
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Thank you very much for your feedback! The windows, or more general the radiation that hits the vehicle, are indeed a problem. We reduced the size of the windows slightly. Additionally, all windows in EVA are tinted. One of the reasons to paint EVA in a white coat are the reflective properties for the sun's radiation. The overhead air-conditioning allows us to cool the head of EVAs passengers first, which makes the passenger feel cool faster and does not require us to cool the complete passenger cabin (unused seats can be switched off). Additionally, we also separated the trunk from the passenger cabin to reduce the cooling space. For the passenger comfort and air flow in EVA, we also integrated fans into every seat, allowing us to pull away humid and hot air. If you have been in Singapore or a climate-wise similar country, you know how uncomfortable it can be to sit on a seat for a long time, even with the air-con turned to maximum. If you have more interest in our approach to vehicle air-conditioning, I would like to invite you to contact my colleagues who have designed the system. You can find their e-mail addresses here: http://www.tum-create.edu.sg/people/research-team#8
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      It looks decent, much better than bloomberg's gasoline powered "taxi of tommorow". Love the dual quick charge ports.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Thank you very much for your feedback! We are using dual ports, as a single plug only allows us to transfer "only" 250A at 450V, however, we are charging with 360A at 450V. This is a massive amount of power, which current plugs are not able to handle
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        @ paulwesterberg " better than bloomberg's gasoline powered "taxi of tommorow". Absolutely !
        DarylMc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Regarding the dual charge ports, Chargers would have to be 100kW each for the 15 minute recharge time. I'm sure battery swaps could work out nicely for a purpose built taxi like this.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Hi PMundhenk Thanks for adding your information to the blog. Still quite serious chargers but as far as a purpose built taxi goes, this vehicle seems quite a standout. Congratulations and all the best with it.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          We are charging at 360A, 450V, so 162kW, or 81kW per port. Battery swaps are of course possible and we have considered this, however, the infrastructure will be significantly more expensive, especially if set up in multiple places. Singapore is a city state and high power is readily available nearly everywhere. However, the battery is mounted fully from below the vehicle, so in future iterations we are still able to consider battery swapping.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Great design, love this car. Also, as others have commented, think this could be a wonderful option for the commuter masses and soccer moms. Add solar panels to all horizontal surfaces and have even more, maybe unlimited, range especially in the tropics as designed for.
      imoore
      • 1 Year Ago
      I really like this car. This would be an interesting alternative to the Tesla and Leaf. I wonder if there is a possibility of offering it to the civilian market?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @imoore
        Thank you very much for your feedback. In general, this is of course no problem. We are currently also looking for partners with respect to production of components or the vehicle. While optimized for taxi usage, EVA is not necessarily limited to this of course!
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      How about a more aerodynamic taxi sign? Perhaps just rotate it 90 degrees, or is there some law against such foolishness?
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        @ BipDBo In Singapore traffic, aero-dynamics have only minimal importance.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        Thank you very much for your feedback! The taxi sign has been optimized for visibility, not aerodynamics. With respect to aerodynamics there is for sure room for improvement. Simply rotating it by 90 degrees would significantly lower the visibility from the front though. However, as Singapore is a city state, the average speed is rather low. EVAs maximum speed is limited to 111 km/h. Therefore we decided to optimize the taxi sign for visibility.
          • 1 Year Ago
          Dear Tony, thank you very much for your feedback. We just finished the prototype and are now looking for partners for commercializing the technologies inside. Once this works out, there is of course no limit on where to bring the taxi to. I agree with you that Bangkok would be an excellent region for a fleet of electric vehicles!
          Tony Kalniev
          • 1 Year Ago
          Excellent design! Can you bring the concept car to the Thai market? Companies and government really need convincing that evs are better. In addition, Thailand is covered with 220v three-phase infrastructure network so high power charging stations would be a minimal cost.
      dewd7
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nice looking car. Relieved of the long worn out over styled designer headlights, it looks refreshing. But taxis as a logical use? No way. Taxis are hammered 24 hours/day, expected to go 2 million miles, extreme use and abuse is standard, all day, every day. Move, make money. Stop, go broke. Why would any semi conscious operator chose this? These things are simply not suited to that task. Limited use, short commutes, yeah. But all day burning it up? Who do you think you are kidding here? This is BS all the way down. Has to be tax money and politicians involved for this level of stupid.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @dewd7
        Thank you very much for your feedback. Our research institute is targeting exactly the questions you mention here. We think that we can tackle these doubts with today's EV technology and built EVA to show this and proof our point. We will use EVA as a testbed for technologies that allow us to withstand such long driving cycles and minimize the number of stops (see battery size) and length of each stop (see charging time).
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      @ PMundhenk Thank you for your reply, and your invitation to learn more by email.( I shall certainly advantage myself of your kind invitation to learn more). Congratulations on the project, the progress of EV technology is in a most exciting phase, and it's great to share with innovative creators like yourself.
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