As the Automotive X-Prize program slowly proceeds toward its conclusion, only one European team remains in the competition. Delta Motorsport is a British engineering consultancy born out of competition, specifically motorsports. The car it has been developing for the X-Prize is one of the few going for the big prize in the mainstream class. The X-Prize mainstream class requires vehicles with four wheels and seating for at least four. These vehicles must be designed to meet safety regulations and be able to be sold in profitably in high volumes.
Interestingly, Delta Motorsport refers to its E-4 coupe as an ultra-low energy vehicle, which is totally in keeping with the point of the contest. A large vehicle converted to electric or hybrid vehicle still uses a lot of energy although the energy generation and emissions happen remotely from the vehicle. Delta has developed its vehicle to minimize its total energy use.
The E-4 is claimed to get 250 miles on a charge and the prototype is going through final preparations before the evaluation begins in Michigan at the end of April. The E-4 is not Delta's only electric project. The firm also worked with Westfield on its iRacer that was shown in Geneva. Check out Delta's E-4 blog to follow the progress.
[Source: Delta Motorsport]
Ultra Low Energy Vehicle - E-4 Coupe
We have been working since early 2007 on the design of our E-4 Coupe, a very compact, light weight, low drag, 4-seat passenger car.
The distinction between ULEV (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) and ULEnV (Ultra Low Energy Vehicle) is a subtle but important one. Powering an Audi Q7 or a BMW X5 from batteries would turn either into a low emissions vehicle, but we believe this is missing the point since they would still consume a huge amount of energy in any journey. All this energy ultimately has to come from somewhere, even if it's from renewable sources, and we believe that over the next few years a sharper focus will gradually fall on reducing all cars' energy consumption.
Building a car that consumes significantly less energy will allow us to consider a wide variety of choices for energy storage, from hydrogen to batteries. We're not ruling anything out however – we'll also consider gasoline and diesel versions in the future if we feel there's a suitable market. The most important thing is to get the fundamental architecture of the vehicle right, and the rest will follow.
We've been right back to basics to remind ourselves of the fundamentals of energy consumption in road cars. Minimising a car's weight as well as optimising its aerodynamics and mechanical efficiency is a process that's second nature to us from many years in motor sport. Our innovative approach and the range of design and simulation tools we use for our motorsport projects is applicable directly to this project, but the focus on achieving a viable selling price poses a whole new set of challenges.
The first car we build will be plug-in battery electric, offering a range of up to 250 miles. The focus on reducing the car's weight added to the great torque characteristics of electric motors will also give phenomenal performance and handling.
We are very pleased to announce that we have been awarded a "Grant for Research and Development" by the Regional Development Agency for the East Midlands area, EMDA (http://www.emda.org.uk/main/). A combination of this funding with significant further re-investment in our own business means that we are now in a position to complete the design work, make all the necessary tooling and have a car running before the end of 2009. Keep checking back for regular project updates!
We're racers at heart and just can't resist a competition, so we've also decided to take the car to race in North America for the $10million Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize in 2010 (http://www.progressiveautoxprize.org/).
For regular projet updates why not visit our blog at: Link to X-Prize Blog
Delta Motorsport has been a member of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) since early 2007. The LowCVP is an action and advisory group, established in 2003 to take a lead in accelerating the shift to low carbon vehicles and fuels in the UK and to help ensure that UK business can benefit from that shift.
The LowCVP is a partnership of over 280 organisations from the automotive and fuel industries, the environmental sector, government, academia, road user groups and other organisations with a stake in the low carbon vehicles and fuels agenda. For further information visit http://www.lowcvp.org.uk/.