An Aussie Firm May Have Just Perfected The Electric Car

What's wrong with electric cars? Right now, the biggest one we can think of is the all-important battery range. Sure it's fun saving Mother Earth but if you can only do 40km before recharging for 18 hours, what's the point? Thankfully, an Aussie firm has cracked onto an ingenious invention that may just perfect the electric vehicle's efficiency problem.

The company is called Evans Electric, and its invention is so beautifully simple that once you hear it, you'll kick yourself for not thinking of it first.

Right now, electric cars are predicated on stuffing a whole heap of batteries into the floorpan to power an electric motor which connects to the four wheels of a car much like a petrol engine would: via a transmission and gears. Boffins at Evans Electric finally thought: why bother with the engine connectors at all?

They got to work, and came up with the in-wheel engine: a electric motor connected to each wheel, powering it more efficiently than a traditional electric motor ever could.

To prove it, Evans Electric took a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III and bolted four of its direct-drive motors to the four wheels. The end result is a car that can produce 800-horsepower and a phenomenal 1250nm of torque. The best part about all that power is that it's available as soon as you put your foot down thanks to nature of electric cars: you don't need to spool up the engine to get to your maximum power, it's all there waiting for you.

The wheel motors are more efficient than a traditional engine due to the fact that energy is deployed intelligently into each wheel as required, without losing power in the transfer process from the old single motor to the wheels.

Evans Electric has patented its incredible invention, as well as a method that allows the physical components inside the wheel to become tweakable via software. The electric drive system allows ABS, stability control, traction control, brake steer, cruise control, emergency brake assist and collision avoidance to be adjusted by software, allowing for not only the most ingenious electric car on the planet, but also the most unique. [CleanTechnica]


Comments

    I'm a little confused... You say that the problem with electric cars is the battery range, but the article doesn't give any indication of how this new technology improves the range of batteries? Unless I missed something?

    I mean 800-horsepower 1250nm of torque are great, but how does that translate to range?

      Luke forgot to mention:
      the way that this new technology helps increase range of batteries is by increasing the regenerative power of brakes.

      so, as the car brakes, up to 85% of the energy used to stop the car goes back in to the battery.
      (from source)

      I think it could have been said more explicitly, but there are two things which contribute to the range here.
      First is efficiency of direct drive - although even the linked article doesn't give enough details, it's fair to assume that if this is more efficient, current battery tech will last longer.
      Second is regenerative braking - if you can recover "up to 85%" of your energy (as the linked article claims) then that's a MASSIVE effective efficiency boost.

      Having said all that, I wonder how an electric motor would take to being violently shook up and down the way a wheel is on even a slightly bumpy road. Are the engines actually mounted to the wheels? Or is there a simple transmission so they don't shake to pieces?

        It's not 85% of energy is it? Isn't it 85% of braking energy?? That's great - but not massive.

          It's also kind of useless if you're driving on a highway and rarely touching the brakes.

            Of course, when you're on the highway you're hardly touching the accelerator either, just maintaining speed... :)

              But you are also fighting wind resistance at highway speed which is roughly proportional to velocity.

                It's worse than that..it's the square of velocity.. Double your speed, quadruple the wind resistance.

                  Actually it's worse than that .. it's the CUBE of the velocity. Depending on which drag state you are in.

      because there are 4 motors, and powering the wheels directly and individually. 1.there is no power loss due to the elimination of a drive train. 2. having 4 motors means the motors will be barely spinning up. as the load has decreased.

      there is still 1 huge problem. and its the weight of all the batteries. most electric cars gain a Ton just in battery weight alone. if we can get battery tech to be lighter, plus also being more environmentally friendly to make them ( I hear acid rain really helps the environment) haha
      I however digress. if the weight of the batteries can drop, that will extend range, aid handling ect. there are a few electric BMW 3 series that have electric motors, and are raced, its on the drive youtube channel

        I don't think acid rain has much to do with the production of batteries or battery acid. Just saying.

        In fact pollution from automobile emissions is a significant contributor, so you're probably getting a net environment gain making the batteries?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_rain#Human_activity

          The production of batteries like the Lithium + * batteries are rather heavy on pollution. First there's the extraction, then the refinement, and finally, too many of them are not being disposed of properly. I would admit though, that if the batteries on a car were professionally replaced (I'd imagine a large portion of "do it yourself-ers" would just dump them), they'd probably be sent back to recycling.

          Acid rain would probably be a side effect of the processing.

    Isn't the Mercedez SLS AMG E-cell already doing this sort of thing? Saw it on top gear the other week. 4 motors for each individual wheel and computers controlling each wheel.

    How is this different from that? It still requires a buttload of batteries to run and a day and a half to charge.

      Yeah pretty sure it is. Impressive beast that was too. Shame about the 20 hour recharge time.

      nah, with the Mercedes the motors are mounted inwards on the chassis with drive shafts leading to the wheels. Improved handling as all the weight is inwards and the wheels are lighter so less strain is put on suspension.

      Evans Electric is a wheel hub motor that replaces the disc brakes, useful for electric conversions but not a new idea by any stretch.

        Fair enough was looking for a clarification. Thanks! I still think that anything which requires batteries to be charged for extended periods of time is not the future. People don't want next gen tech which makes them wait.

          that's an issue with the charging system rather than the motors.

          Tesla have "super charger" stations that can charge 480 miles of charge in 30 minutes.. which isn't bad if you're in a need of a break anyway.

          They also have plans in place for battery swaps in under 2 minutes, which is completely automated and has provisions in place for people to pay a difference fee if they don't pick up their old used battery on the return trip.

            Now that's the future!

      It's a pretty well established method of using electric motors, it's been done many times before.
      as per: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_hub_motor

    Hey Luke, this is cool and all.. but it's far from a new idea.

    There are patents for electric wheel hub motors going back as far as 1890. Not much has got out of the concept/prototype stage.

    E-traction in the Netherlands have fitted similar motors to buses.. which have a 92% efficiency from regenerative braking, higher than the Evans Electric prototype.

      Not to mention, this is exactly the thinking behind every electric or diesel train currently...

      While this does save some power from removing the transmission overhead, This is far from a revolutionary idea, at best it's a too late copy...

        sort of. I'm pretty sure locomotives still have the electric motors mounted inwards in the trucks, with a reduction gear driving the axle.. granted they're on the trucks so they're included in the unsprung weight.

        The Evans Electric is similar to the Protean Hi-Pa wheel hub motor or the E-traction I mentioned earlier. They're placed where you'd find the brakes on a normal car.

      Correct. My Father also developed one, but never ended up implementing it into an actual car (it was a side project). Good to see it actually happened, but it's not unique.

    This is far from the first time that most of the drive train has been eliminated by putting motors directly on wheels. It's all kind of irrelevant unless it gives a significantly increased range. The range might be improved on by eliminating a few drive train components - but from 40km to ...? It's a big detail that's missing. Even if it were increased a whopping 20% that would still only increase it to 48km.

      there's also the issue of unsprung weight... heavier wheels = more force transferred from the road to the car hurting ride quality and performance.

    Efficiency mdolley, basically instead of driving an engine in the traditional sense like other companies are doing at the moment through a driveshaft they instead put a small electric motor on each wheel allowing the power to be delivered directly and not be lost through trying to drive other parts of the Car like the driveshaft for example! Think about how much dead weight could be removed from the car in this fashion, that weight could be used instead for batteries allowing greater range.

    Its hard to compare for something like this as the Evo3 was petrol driven before, but it would be nice to see range it gets now that its driven by electricity as opposed to before.

      A driveshaft in an evo weighs about 3kgs... I don't think you're going to save too much dead weight ;-P

        He may have meant drive train. Remember, you're removing the engine, gearbox, differentials (I assume). That's a lot of weight lost.

        These electric motors are not light, mind you - plus the addition of the heavy batteries, would end up neglecting any weight savings.

        Last edited 06/08/13 9:28 am

    This sounds interesting, but just how much more efficient is it exactly? The Tesla Model S has a purported range of about 370km with the standard 60kWh battery pack (if the car is traveling at approx. 90km/h). Would this system bring that number up by 100s of kilometers or just 10s?

    The other question I'd have is how can they ensure that every motor will work in sync and not go out of balance? Hate to think that you could be driving along when all of a sudden one side of the car loses power for whatever reason while the other stays at full. May not be enough to throw you off the road, but it'd be a concern none-the-less.

      It's actually a pretty scary thought, if these motors are independently driven, if one was to fail or speed up. =\

    As above this has been done before and not only that but it's been done by Mitsubishi with the Evolution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIEV

    Have they also solved the unsprung weight issues inherent to this "new" design?

      Not unless they defied the laws of physics.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, Mercedes did this, or something very similar, with the SLS Electric Drive a little while back. This system's name implies that there are motors actually in each wheel, whereas Mercedes' system had 4 electric motors, 2 in the front, 2 in back, connected to each wheel by a driveshaft.
    Quickly drew this up on my phone. It's a bit crap, but you get the idea.
    http://i.imgur.com/g0R6SEk.jpg

    Last edited 05/08/13 3:35 pm

      I was going to say exactly that. Crazy awesome car, with a very short battery life at full throttle. Saw it on top Gear.

      Lol nice diagram. I found this on the net for whoever wants a bit more detail.
      http://www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/12C1088_03.jpg

        Yeah, I think that's a liiiitle bit more informative than mine.
        And has more detail
        And looks better...

    I have an thought, can't manufactures use the rotation of the front wheels to power a back electric engine that powers the rear wheels or at least charge batteries up?

    It probably cannot be done if not it would have been implemented by now but if they implement a KERS system which generates even more power then i could see this system relying less on mains as a means of charging.

      Luke, sorry, but that would not work. You do not get energy for nothing unfortunately. When you produce energy by this method, the generator/motor/alternator connected to the front wheels will require some force to turn the generator to create the electricity, which will be equal to the amount of power required to move the car forward. Take into the fact that there is inefficiency built into this, such as noise, friction and heat, it would mean a net loss of power.

        As i said it was just a thought, that's why i'm not an engineer.

        I knew there would be a reason no one has implement something like this.

        this is true, unless they were travelling downhill ;)

        but obviously they would lose some GPE and would need to have to make up for it on the way back up to where they started.

      There's no such thing as free energy. Using the front wheels as generators would put extra load on the rear motors doing the driving....plus some energy would be lost to friction and heat. Effectively, you'd be going backwards.

      Most electric vehicles are capable of storing energy from deceleration already.

      They already do.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regenerative_brake

    The Tesla electric car is designed like this. Motors connected directly to the wheels, the whole bottom is used for battery storage and in the front where the engine is traditionally is storage space. It's not a new design.

      not really,

      The Tesla Model S has inboard electric motors with reduction gears leading onto drive shafts, the benefit being lower unsprung weight which improves handling.

      This Evans Electric is a wheel hub motor. which is as old as cars itself.

    Yes, nothing new here. What I was expecting was some new form of fast charging or useful battery-swap technology. I see the latter as the real future for electric cars - standardised batteries, just like the "C" and "D" cells you use in a torch, that can be easily swapped out for fresh ones. Better still would be the ability ot add a few extra batteries into the boot for longer range, keeping the bare minimum for your daily commute to save weight and improve efficiency. Those kinds of measures, combined with wheel-hub motors to allow for better use of available space, is the way forward for EVs.

      Current trends are to move away from battery swap stations like Better Place and to priorities on rapid charging stations in ubiquity like Telsa's Supercharge network. Your right though standardization of battery tech is where the industry is heading too. Basically there is be such a serge in R&D in battery tech in the last 10 years it would appear industry is not willing to tool up for large scale mass production for battery tech that will be out dated in the coming year.

        That's because the kinds of swap stations proposed by Better Place were ridiculously complex. Keep it simple, allow it to be done by the driver in a few minutes and it would be infinitely preferable. e.g. With hub motors, you could house the batteries under the bonnet. Make them a manageable size with simple clip-in, clip-out mounts and a driver could swap two over in a minute or so and four in just a couple of minutes.

        Changing battery tech needn't be a hassle, just as alkaline "D" cells are perfectly interchangeable with the heavy duty variety (or rechargeables). As long as the chargers are smart enough, it's the form factors that need to be standardised. Right now that's hard because the batteries have to be hidden in unused nooks and crannies but hub motors will free up lots of space.

      The batteries would be too heavy for a normal person to lift I imagine...
      If they had some sort of robotic mechanised battery changing machine though, that would be pretty cool.
      The battery opening area would have to be all standardised etc. and all that sort of stuff, but it'd be a better solution than slow charging.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qd0WPw3p2MQ so this is the better place battery swap that I was talking bout. Which is like you say "some sort of robotic mechanised battery changing machine". It is pretty cool but there is a trade off for security of battery and other engineering issues. Besides which Project Better Place is now no sadly longer with us so it would be a brave company to reinvest in that system.

        I think there will be in the future two stages of charging. Rapid charge and slow over night charge. Rapid will get down to sub 10 minutes for extra juice when your running low. Slow charge will be where you drive over a charging plate and it automatically will charge over night with cheap electricity via induction. Kind of like the new Samsung Galaxy phone charging. There was company that claimed to do this back in SEMA autoshow 2006 but I can't find it atm.

        We just have to change our habits and think of our cars like smart phones. Charge quickly when we need to and leave it overnight in a dock otherwise. It's really not that hard and it's will save us the consumer 1000's of dollars a year in petrol monies.

        Last edited 05/08/13 5:16 pm

        No need ot do it with a single battery, just as some torches work with one AA and other work with 4 of 'em. Keep it all modular, deplete individual cells one at a time and you could jus tneed to swap/charge a fraction of them each night. I'm envisioning something shaped like a 1 litre milk carton, only maybe twice the size in every dimension, that you insert/remove vertically (or at an angle), like a nuclear fuel rod, and latch in place.

          Yeah I like your idea and lateral thinking, maybe that would work in the future. You would save time in charging as your doing it to lots of little times rather than one big time. And if they were light enough you could swap them over like milk carltons which sounds like even my grandma could do it.

          We might be a little way off from that. Currently though the energy density of battery tech such as LithOn is really low and thus makes them extremely heavy. I help build an electric SAE car for uni and it took 2 huge guys to lift and fit the batteries in place and even then it looked super awkward.
          it was 40kg+ and was about the size of a case of beer. All though if you broke that down into 10kg blocks it might be more doable but still might not be manageable for everyone all the time.

          I guess taking this idea to it's logical conclusion assuming battery tech became lighter would you want to risk putting a damaged battery in your car? Whats stopping somebody from trashing the battery on a previous drive? Or maybe if somebody dropped one and fractured the case? it might cause an accident in the car, who would be liable?

            They have that sorted with Swap 'n' Go LPG cylinders, by testing the empties before they refill them. The battery charger on my yacht goes through a diagnostic mode before it starts charging, to check on the condition of the battery before deciding how to charge it. It only takes a few seconds so it is something an automated system could do before giving you a fresh battery.

            The dispenser/charger could be like a vending machine or ATM, totally unattended. You could also just pack extra batteries in the boot (or tow a trailer full of them) for longer trips and swap them over by the roadside when you need to.

    And they were in all three Back To The Future films.

    I came here to see an electric car powered by capacitors, and ended up disappointed. Unless I can charge an electric car in under 5 minutes, I don't want to know about it.

    Apart from the fact that something can't be 'most unique' -- it's either unique or it's not -- I've read of systems like this over the years and I can't tell from the article what's so special about this one.

    Stupid article, they just tested the same thing in the Merc eSLS on top gear

    proton already have this in cars in going into production. direct drive in whell hubs were concieved decades ago

    Unfortunately nothing new here, now if they were producing a car using a fuel cell, or some kind of breakthrough in energy storage technology, such as a capacitor or new battery tech, then this would be a story, as it is it is nothing.

    Unfortunately electric powered cars, or planes for that matter (http://www.panthera-aircraft.com) will not be used in any great capacity until energy storage technology has advanced to a level where we can get similar range (eg 400km for a car, or 6 hours on a plane), and recharge in 5 mins at a service station (car) or airport (aircraft), and I do not believe drop in drop out of battery banks is the solution.

    The other breakthrough needs to be lighter and more compact energy storage technology, current tech is just way too heavy, and you loose a lot of the stored energy just lugging the energy around.

    The example above of the Panthera aircraft, it will come in a hybrid and electric model, but in those configuration you loose 2 seats, and it becomes a 2 seater aircraft, as opposed to a 4 seater aircraft, not to mention the range is reduced, and it is not as fast.

    Unfortunately, electric transportation has a long way to come, but thankfully there are some companies/people out there working on these problems.

    Last edited 05/08/13 3:15 pm

      They're not for everybody, sure, but I think you might be missing a point here. The range of the Tesla (for example) already matches that of many petrol powered cars at ~500km for the high capacity model. As for charge time, if you plug it in at home and leave it to charge overnight (assuming this is an option - again, it's not for everybody) then it will take far less than five minutes of your time, and there is no need to wait in line or go out of your way like you have to do with a petrol car.

      I don't know if any cars use them, but an inductive charging mat on the garage floor would mean no time invested in charging at all. Simply parking overnight (or even for shorter spells) would charge the battery while you are doing other things. Workplaces might even install the mats on a user pays basis, but the vast majority of us could get around all day and then home again with far less than 500km of driving, so it should rarely be an issue. For when it is (holidays etc), hire a car or charge over lunch somewhere on the highway that allows it.

      Last edited 05/08/13 3:45 pm

        Sorry, but I do not think I am missing the point, as the average person out there, and unless it is as convenient as petrol, it is not going to get the take up. When 5 min charge gives 400km range, the masses will start to take it on, until then it will remain a niche.

          Well, the point is that a zero-time investment (or very close - plugging something in doesn't take me very long) gives 500km of range, already. The fact that it charges for a few hours is moot, since you can be sleeping while it does so. That already makes it far more convenient than petrol.

          I fail to see how that isn't better for at least 99.9% of everybody. Or do you actually like lining up at the petrol station? :-)

          Last edited 06/08/13 8:08 am

    I remember seeing a TV show years ago about electric cars with the entire base of the car just a flat surface. You could change the design of the car without a problem: 2 door, 4 door, sedan, van etc etc.

    Yawn, 2006 article, http://www.treehugger.com/cars/electric-mini-0-60-in-4-seconds-it-has-motors-in-its-wheels.html

    New/Old tech argument combined, if this is efficient..combine it with a Hydrogen Fuel Cell and have an economical car that everyone wants.

    Mmmm a typically well-researched Giz article, nothing to be surprised about here!!!
    Now what would be cool was if someone developed a quick-change battery system, i.e. whole battery tray slides out from under the car.
    Only problem with that is to be viable every single electric car would have to have the same or similar cell layout.
    Would probably end up being a safety/fire hazard having service stations with racks of batteries laying about though I guess.

      Hey guys Tesla has a battery changing system that they are deploying it takes 90 seconds, now what was that time for a full fill up at the servo oh 4+ minutes so now you can complain about why petrol driven cars are so slow to refuel.

    Here's what Mitsu were testing themselves years ago, definitely just a copy and paste, not original - http://www.mitsubishi-lancer.info/news/Mitsubishi_Lancer_EVO_with_in_wheel_electric_motors.html

      I'm afraid you haven't read either article closely enough.

      The MIEV is an inwheel electric motor, sure.. but it still has hydraulic disc braking and I don't see anything indicating the regenerative braking capabilities of that version.

      The Evans version is also an inwheel electric motor, however it uses the motors as the brakes as well (like most electric remote controlled toy cars can do), which lets it reach 85% regenerative braking capability and also reduces unsprung weight.

      The advantages the Evans version has over other versions (and cars in general) seems to be:
      1) Eliminate entire classical drive train. Gearbox, driveshafts, diffs, CV joints etc all gone.. massive weight savings.
      2) Better efficiency system. Better regenerative braking and less power wasted driving mechanical parts to get the power to the wheels.
      3) Allows full independent control of each wheel by the assistive computer system. Should make vehicles much safer in situations where bad stuff happens.

    We are like Version 1.5 on car battery tech at the moment. So many options hybrid, nanotech batteries, ultra-capacitor systems etc etc. This is like historically the starting years of the ICE motorcar. Nothing is standard and every year a new company feels they have cracked the code on battery and engine development. Watch this space though we are about to get electric cars that will with in two decades outperform ICE car in every respect I feel I am incredibly optimistic. Also I don't see gas prices going down any time soon. If you want to be inspired look at this report for something on two wheels. http://rideapart.jalopnik.com/rideapart-review-2014-mission-rs-1002755063 Also great reporting by Gawker Media

    I thought adding more weight to the wheel is the opposite to what you want to do. In cycling, there is a saying "gram shaved off a wheel is worth two off the frame". Looking at wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_performance having a heavier spinning object loses efficiency.

      Yep your right on a push bike shaving grams off wheels is great because of the reduction rotating mass and energy used to propel the bike along. Bikes are incredibly efficient machines where there powered simply by humans and have a chain and gear system.

      But cars are different. ICE engines are generally placed at the front of a car and have a transmission, differential and drive shaft that gives power to the driving wheels. There is a lot of waste caused by this but also benefits derived from the gear ratios etc etc

      By putting the motors near the wheels you are reducing the distance and waste to get power the wheels and also you are getting the benefit of being able to generate energy from the braking system. Also you are getting rid of the weight of the diff, trans and freeing up the design of the vehicle.

      The real problem I hear with hub motors is unsprung vs sprung weight which effect the handling and the performance of the car.

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