Powering Sustainable Transportation
“What’s New In Electric Vehicle Drive Technology”
Text by Mark E. Hanson
Photos by Bruce Meland

Introduction and Executive Summary:

November 22nd, 2003 ::: EVS-20 put on by EDTA (Electric Drive Transportation Association) was the largest (2000 engineers/presenters) event I have been to so far in the last 20 years with over 100 electric drive businesses and many technical sessions for three days. The ride and drive program was the largest I have been to also with electrics, hybrids and fuel cell vehicles. Some of the new battery technologies such as lithium polymer and sodium nickel are required to run hot and require elaborate thermal and equalizing battery management systems.

The more viable technologies such as the mature Ni-Cads ($600 per kwh) and NiMH ($1.2k per kwh) batteries have been proven and enjoyed by users. Bill West with Southern California Edison really liked the Panasonic - http://panasonic.jp - NiMH batteries in RAV4’s which he still has four vehicles left with 100k miles on the original battery packs.

On the vehicle front, the large automakers have shifted their interest through government funding over to fuel cells. Hybrids such as the new Toyota 04’ Prius was a leap forward in technological improvements while pure electrics were being sold by smaller companies such as ZAP - www.zapworld.com - and Reva - www.evworksus.com - as well as some motorcycles/scooters like WaveCrest and the well engineered Vectrix.

ZAP has had management/money boondoggles in the past so it will be interesting to see if this Chinese import takes off with crash test requirements. Most of the pure electrics were forced into a NEV category for cost/crash test reasons. Reva hopes to raise their US vehicle to 50 mph from the present NEV 25mph requirement since it’s already being used in India at 50mph.

Selling EV’s at glorified golf cart speeds doesn’t help the EV cause. GM Ken Stewart as well as Bill West noted that customers prefer plug-in hybrids (from EV-1 and RAV-4 focus groups) and see that as a desired feature so they don’t have to bother with gas stations. GM said they are working with Daimler-Chrysler to have a 30-60 mile range plug in hybrid available in the next few years to fleets.

I also spanned information from director Rob Reiner's keynote speech. He gave an excellent pointed presentation regarding sustainable awareness of a new more efficient AC drive.

My Focus is on the technological improvements since the last Symposium and sampling some of the highlights. Since there were five technical classes going on simultaneously, it was difficult to cover everything so from an engineer’s perspective, I picked the highlights.

- Electric Louie Sits on the Raser Tech Polaris Hybrid Snowmobile -

"Raser Technologies, a Provo, Utah-based company brought a Polaris snowmobile that they had converted from a polluting two-stroke to a gasoline-electric four-stroke hybrid, reducing its emissions while significantly increasing its horsepower. One of their secrets is their new electric motor that purportedly takes advantage of a little-known principle of physics."
—Bill Moore

The Vehicles:

Initially on Sunday, I attended the Ride & Drive starting with Toyota. The 04’ Prius
www.toyota.com was substantially improved over the previous model years although it wasn’t plug-in yet. The engine compartment was laid out more cleanly and easier to service than previous year models. I could easily reach under and grab the oil filter for changing and the spark plugs on top of the engine. The price was the same as last year $20k for a better vehicle. The Honda hybrid Civic was also well laid out.

With a $2k tax credit, that would be about $19.5k. The vehicle is roomier with the same fuel economy 60 mpg city / 51 highway. Toyota has sold 100k hybrids so they have the most experience and improvements that I could see. It was also less frumpy (more futuristic looking) than last years typical marsh mellow car-pod look.

I rode in some fuel cell vehicles, Honda, GM and Ford which at present cost a million or more to build each one. They hope the price will come down to $100k in 10 years but presently are not yet ready for prime time. The 1.7 billion dollars mentioned the last state-of-the-Union speech in January has yet to materialize according to the manufacturers that are presently building fuel cell vehicles. It should hopefully be divvied out over a five-year period I was told.

A very interesting small hydrogen manufacturing plant suitable for home (or on location) hydrogen production was demonstrated by Stuart Technology. It used solar panels to separate water using a standard electrolysis process with oxygen as a byproduct. It pressurized to 6Kpsi in gas form to fuel a car. The goal is to go to 10Kpsi for more on board storage and better range. The vehicle tanks are made of carbon composite which should disintegrate in an impact and not explode a Stuart spokesman said. The conversion process is 50% efficient.

I asked, “why not just hook the solar panels to batteries in an EV and charge them directly”. He responded that better range could be had with this set-up even though the process isn’t as efficient as a direct charge connection. Presently the hydrogen manufacturing station generates 3kg (210kWh equivalent) of stored hydrogen. 1kg = 60 miles so 180 miles per day is realized from the generation station.

Air Products www.airproducts.com Donald Eichelberger noted his company and not Stuart was actually fueling the Ride & Drive fuel cells. He said his $6 billion 18k employee company fuels most fuel cell operations and taps off of existing underground hydrogen lines that are already connected to refineries for the refinery process. The hydrogen is reformed from natural gas presently. This can continue in this mode to fuel small amounts of fuel cell vehicles for the next 10 years.

I asked why not burn the natural gas directly in vehicles like the Canadians do for more efficiency. He replied that by at least mixing some hydrogen with natural gas in a direct burn engine, the hydrocarbons and CO2 are drastically reduced resulting in a far cleaner burn. The britilization of a metal engine must be considered (modified) to accommodate pure H2. Air Products claims they sell more hydrogen than all the other suppliers combined and fuel all NASA missions.

- Italy's Vectrix Electric Scooter -

I rode around on the Vectrix www.vectrixusa.com scooter which had impressive performance ran up to 60mph with regen on a unique bi-directional throttle and is about 60 miles per charge. I also rode a M750 E-bike by WaveCrest www.wavecrestlabs.com that is 20 miles per charge. Wavecrest is in Dulles, Virginia and their bike is being looked at by the military for its stealth like silent drive and no heat signature.

Maxwell Technologies
www.maxwell.com demo’d their Ultra-Caps in a Las Vegas NEDRA race last year going ¼ mile in a drag race starting at 400V and dropping to 180V. The car accelerated to 77mph in 15 seconds. The caps are being considered for hybrids to eliminate the battery but don’t have enough energy storage to replace the battery in a standard EV. The car weighed 1800 lbs and was charged with a 10 minute dump charging pit stop.

Their development team said it will be 1-2 years before they can replace batteries in hybrids and the new 42V cars and will last the life of the vehicle removing the battery worries of customers. Their cost has been dropping and is now at 1 cent per farad but the auto industry needs it at ½ cent per farad to be viable. Honda is trying an ultra-cap hybrid.

www.personalelectric.com had a Personal Electric Transport to help here with urban sprawl and in China/India. They had a quick change swappable batter pack which was nice.

Daimler Chrysler
www.media.daimlerchrysler.com will introduce a diesel Jeep Liberty next year with a 35% fuel efficiency improvement over the present model. The VW beetle clean burn diesel was similar in fuel economy to the hybrid Civic and Prius. Chrysler are looking more at clean burn diesels since they are very popular in Europe and should be here. A Diesel-Electric hybrid would have a 70% improvement over present gas vehicles with particulate emissions removed.

Presently they are selling flex-fuel ethanol vehicles today. Chrysler has a hemi engine which is 10% more fuel efficient in their 5.7 liter engine. They now have 28000 GEM NEV’s on the road, the largest of any manufacturer. They are one of the few actually making profits on EV’s because they are cheaper DC drives.

The shunt (sep-ex) 5hp GE drive and control has the same efficiency with regen capability as an AC drive but with lower cost and complexity. 40% of their sales are in California. My patent no, 6,218,812 on www.uspto.gov for a 1200W switchmode EV charger can be used for these and similar electric vehicles.

Dr. Truckenbrodt with Chrysler talked about fuel cells that are clean and quiet, reduce our dependency on foreign oil but must get the platinum cost out. They are making 100 vehicles for testing but direct burn hydrogen piston engines are not being pursued (although by others) since Chrysler says fuel cells wells to wheels are more efficient. BioDiesel is also being pursued he said.

www.nrel.gov (National Renewable Energy Labs) and DOE www.doe.gov were also present at three booths for the Clean Cities initiative and electric vehicle evaluations. The EnergyStar www.energystar.gov folks were also there with ways to improve your energy efficiency.

- WaveCrest Smart -

The EVS-21 in Monte Carlo, Monaco was presented for April 2-6 2005.

At the Media Roundtable Robert Stemple president of Ovonics and former president of GM said that across all lines hybrid technology will prevail by 2005. Andreas Truckenbrodt with Chrysler said we must have sustainable transportation to protect our resources. Presently annual solar energy dwarfs all oil reserves. Mike Schwarz with Ford said they are coming out with a hybrid Escape model in 04.

Ken Stuart with GM talked about the new Autonomy vehicle platform that can be used for fuel cell and hybrid vehicles. GM has put hybrid busses on the road equivalent to 8000 cars. They prefer working with larger scale vehicles than cars because of their impact. Toyota may have plug-in hybrids by 05 but battery may be so large as not to be commercially viable. Compressed H2 is easier to handle than liquid H2 that must be –250C.

Ken Stewart with GM said that the EV-1 charge was equivalent to 1.7 gallons of gas for 120 miles range with a 7.5 hour recharge. Presently they have a 250 mile range with fuel cell vehicles. They said that the EV-1 customers really liked their vehicles and missed them when they pulled them out of service.

At the Plenary session Assistant Secretary of Energy David Garman noted that there is 1.7 billion allocated for the next five years for fuel cell development. The fuel cell people I have talked to haven’t seen any of this money so far. He said that we need to improve the CAFÉ standards further. The consumer must be enticed to fuel cell vehicles in order for them to become viable.

Robert Stempel of Ovonics noted that India and China will be the largest consumer of cars in the next few years with the biggest pollution problems. China has MPG ratings more stringent than the US. Vehicles must be developed for these markets. China sales reached 1.3 million, up 73% in 1 year. By 2020 China will be the number one consumer of vehicles. India has been increasing at the rate of 10% per year and will continue for the next 10 years foreseeable.

T.J Glauthier President of Electric Innovation Institute thanked Kateri Callahan President of EDTA for all her hard work in putting on the symposium. He is looking at upgrading the grid from a 1950’s technology to a smart self-healing grid which finds the fault and re-routes power around to prevent widespread blackouts.

Dennis Campbell CEO of Ballard Power Systems noted that fuel cells can also be used to feedback from the car or stationary systems to power homes during outages or where power is not available. He noted that Honda FCX and Mercedes is using their fuel cells. Reduced cost on fuel cells is following the Moore’s Law for a 25 fold decrease from their mark 3 to present mark 9 design.

Director and actor Rob Reiner gave an excellent speech on the importance of having a sustainable environment. He said that he has connections to other movie stars if developers would like to see certain technologies/vehicles included in programs to promote them and to please contact him in care of his publicist:

Simon Halls
8500 Wilshire Blvd Suite 700
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

He noted that from his early childhood development programs “I am Your Child Foundation” to the environment he practices what he preaches by driving a Toyota Prius.

There is a consciousness growing that people recognize the need for better fuel efficiency and to protect the environment. Since 1979 the polar ice caps are melting as much area as California and Texas combined. In 100 years we will loose the polar ice caps by global warming if something isn’t done. Children and the environment are two key issues that effect society. There must be a sustainable world.

Kennedy said we will put a man on the moon in 10 years. We could be energy independent within 10 years. The war on terrorism would be eliminated if we were. 60% of our oil is imported with 25% coming from the middle east. If we all drove hybrids, that would eliminate the need for oil from the middle east. We can not only save our resources but also improve the safety of our planet.

- Zap World's Chinese Zenn -

The Advanced Batteries session was reviewed looking at lithium metal polymer battery with Anthony Sudano, Avestor www.avestor.com Their weight is 1/3rd that of lead acid however they have to be kept at 70C with heaters and a battery management equalizing system which drives up the cost. It has no gels or liquid. They are presently being tested in telecom products. The cost is $800 per kWh which includes the electronic control & equalizing. It takes 18 minutes to get up to operating temperature.

The Zebra Battery was also reviewed part of Chrysler which had to be kept at 300C to operate using salt and nickel, 35ah modules. Saft www.saft.com Phillippe Elrich showed a NiMH battery used
on a hybrid bus. The battery long life reduces the need for battery exchange and no overhead wires are needed. “After many years of demonstrated Ni-Cads, NiMH are ready”, he said.

Ken Kelly with NREL www.nrel.gov showed a “Six-Sigma” process for measuring better thermal performance of batteries. Note: “Six-Sigma” is a new buzz word coined by the manufacturing industry for the previous “Zero Defects” quality control programs that were prevalent in the 80’s and early 90’s. He showed charts and graphs indicating flow and pressure differences for NiMH optimum cooling.

Looking at Drive Systems, Boryann Liaw from the University of Hawaii showed in a PowerPoint presentation graphs mileage and drive variations in different parts of the Hawaiian Islands. He used rapid chargers and a fuzzy based analytical tool.

Ken Stewart, marketing director for GM noted that they have cut smog by 95% with a 9% fuel economy improvement. People presently buy more larger inefficient vehicles that cost more when it would be more cost effective to buy cheaper more fuel efficient vehicles (probably due to marketing hype). GM/Allison are selling hybrid busses that cut usage by 60% and emissions by 90% over previous busses. 75kW stationary fuel cells can also be used for home power generation (in remote areas).

Hybrid Silverados are for sale in fleet operations. Bill West with Southern California Edison www.sce.com noted that by reducing ground ozone by half will reduce health by 1 billion dollars annually. They now have 10 million EV miles logged since 1990 that will help reduce our need for foreign oil and help global warming. They are replacing their EV’s since they are being pulled by the major auto companies. The EV’s are being replaced by hybrids for electric meter readers. Plug-in hybrids would be better, more like on an EV that is preferred for 40% emissions reduction.

Southern Cal Edison is using GEM NEVs for meter maids since EVs are desired. Some Segways are used for foot meter readers that reduce reading time by 50%. Bill West was skeptical about fuel cell vehicles but will try them. All non-read fork lift and golf cart applications are electric. Bill enjoys electrics and will not give up just because the technology is no longer available from the manufacturers. (They sued CARB with the federal government to eliminate EV production requirements last year.) SoCalEd still has four Toyota RAV-4 EV’s with over 400k miles on the original NiMH battery pack by Panasonic.

- Honda EV Plus -

The Hawaii EVs were also NiMH and lasted as long as the vehicle. Plug-in EVs with a 20-40 mile range would be desired. It is more convenient to plug in at home overnight most users noted, than going to a gas station. GM plug-in hybrids will be developed with Chrysler for fleets. Chinese are implementing fuel economy standards more stringent than the US.

Errol Wallingford (Royal Military College of Canada)
acsystem@kingston.net implemented from a Patel & Hoft reference revolutionary new AC design with patents on AC drives. (Note: I requested a standard dynamometer or equivalent efficiency comparison for his drive vs a typical vector 3-phase drive such as Siemens and he didn’t have any efficiency comparisons. This must be left up to future testing).

Errol said this design is more efficient and eliminates cooling requirements for the motor and control. He disconnected the Y connection on a standard 3-phase motor and controlled the three coils individually with three independent H-bridges. His test bed was a 97’ GeoMetro with 820 pounds of batteries, 14ea 12V.

This full wave bridge inverter has the windings separated instead of a delta or Y configuration. Errol used a microprocessor instead of a DSP since the control is easier than vector control with square wave pulses using a lookup table on a Motorola microprocessor MC68HC711. The 3 H-Bridges with 3 separate coils had 6 snubber caps and a laminated buss for the 6 leads going to the 25hp Baldor 230V 3-phase 60 hertz induction motor.

The motor individual coils calculate to 132V rms per coil instead of 230V. The resulting vehicle uses 150 W-hours per mile. With peak voltage requirement a 163 volt buss is used. The 5 most significant harmonics are removed with 2k bytes of code. A PWM look-up table is used to synthesize the duty cycle of a sine wave. There must be a 12usec dead-time delay to prevent shoot through for the Collmer IGBT’s. A set/reset flip flop was used for all alarm conditions and a laminated buss is required.

The 5 speed transaxle was retained although 1st gear wasn’t used. Wheel speed was measured with a hall-effect device for the feedback speed/acceleration firmware loop. The rate of change is every 4th cycle for smooth performance. Regen is controlled by a button on the steering column. Greater than a 20% throttle demand results in full torque under software and less than 20% is delivered at 75%.

- GM Autonomy -

So, What’s New and Real?

Vectrix an excellently designed ergonomic scooter at 60 mph and 60 mile range is quite an improvement over previous motor cycles with very limited range. The scooter design is preferred due to the inability to place enough batteries on a traditional motorcycle layout.

Electrovaya’s Li-Ion, Panasonic and Saft’s NiMH & Li-Ions had excellent 150-250 mile range (depending on the vehicle). They also had a long life with greater than 2000 80% dod BCI life cycles.

The REVA electric car at $10k price looks ready for prime time.

Unique Mobility developed a fuel cell drone electric plane for the military. It’s 89lbs, 71 hp PM BLDC motor called “Caliber EV-53”. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to put in hydrogen fueling stations every 20 miles by 2010. This will initially probably use the existing hydrogen lines going to refineries.

Aerovironment’s Paul McCready designed Helios 2nd generation project for NASA. The high flying electric plane up to 96,863 will now have a hydrogen fuel cell and solar power to stay aloft for weeks between fueling. It will be used for an alternative to communications satellites.

Alan Cocconi’s AC Propulsion T-Zero demo’d 280 miles per charge on Li-Ion batteries from LA to Vegas.

The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic are affordable clean burn hybrids. Maxwell caps have demonstrated battery replacement in mild hybrids by drag racing at Vegas only with UltraCaps. GM, Chrysler and Toyota are evaluating true hybrids or plug-in hybrids which would be the best of all worlds.

Upcoming Events:

The Upcoming 10th annual Clean Cities conference May 2-4, 04 will be held in Fort Lauderdale put on by NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratories)
www.ccities.doe.gov This is the next excellent renewable energy and EV conference.

The ETIC 2004 EV Conference will be held September 21-24 in Kissimmee Florida by the EDTA (Electric Drive Transportation Association) who put on this excellent conference so mark your calendars!

EVS-21 April 4-6 2005 in Monte Carlo, Monaco (France) will be the next major international EV conference.

Many thanks to Kateri Callahan, Jennifer Watts and the entire EDTA team for putting on an excellent EV engineering conference which was technically and socially informative.

Contact the author:
Mark Hanson

© Copyright 2003 Long Beach, Cal

Additional information can be found on www.electricdrive.org or www.evs20.org

- PV Charger -