EVA – Supercharged
Researchers in Singapore have developed an electric taxi that can cover 200km with just a 15-minute charge. Steve Shaw looks at the tech setting new vehicle standards.
With the world putting the spotlight on climate change there is pressure on industries to find new and innovative ways to curb emissions and there is a particular focus on the transportation sector.
In the bustling yet compact city of Singapore, taxis have a far greater impact on the environment than private passenger cars and they are one of the biggest contributors to emissions and local noise.
While they account for less than three per cent of the city’s vehicle population, they contribute to 15 per cent of the total distance travelled, with the average two-shift taxi covering more than 500km a day. Replacing the vehicles with electric cars has been called impractical due to the lengthy recharge times, which can take up to eight hours.
However, a team of PhD students and researchers at TUM CREATE – a partnership between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Technische Universität München (TUM) – could have the solution.
EVA is a locally built, electric vehicle designed from the ground-up as an “e-taxi”, and is the result of interdisciplinary research in the areas of energy storage, battery charging, thermal management, lightweight materials and design.
When the car’s research team set out four years ago their goal was to answer how electric vehicles could be made feasible for public transport systems in megacities, and a key part of this was to solve super-fast charging.
The result is a recharging system which has set a new industry benchmark. EVA is capable of covering a range of 200km with a recharge time of just 15 minutes, and while this does mean housing a large battery pack, the car is still 150kg lighter than other similar sized taxis due to its lightweight, carbon-fibre structure.
The research team has also conducted extensive research into how to reduce issues caused by air conditioning systems in humid tropical megacities. Generally constant AC use causes an electric car to lose 30 per cent of its range.
EVA features an individualised, air-conditioning system which uses overhead outlets and seat ventilation 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 and specially designed seats are equipped with a purpose-built system that draws moisture and heat from the surface.
These efficiency innovations are extremely beneficial for the automotive industry and could contribute significantly to the sustainable future of vehicles. NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson also highlighted that EVA has made Singapore among the leaders in electro-mobility systems which will benefit the nation’s economy in the long run through technology transfer.
Over the next four years the research team plans to test the technology further with the NTU campus’ transport eco-system.
During the car’s unveiling at the Tokyo Motor Show, Professor Andersson said: “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 is an investment towards a more sustainable future for everyone.”