Electric vehicles, with a very low-level of noise, represent for many the ideal of personal mobility, with the added bonus of being friendly for the environment.
However, the current technology used to design these vehicles still has several disadvantages that prevent them from being mass-produced. Current electric cars provide reduced safety levels for those small models relying only on electricity. Models employing gasoline/electric hybrid systems are rather heavy and require large and expensive batteries.
Now, a new project, named VisioM, seeks to overcome all these hurdles and design a marketable electric vehicle. In a joint venture, scientists from the Technische Universität München together with German automotive companies are aiming to design a car weighting less than 400 kg and with a power of 15 kw, all standard requirements that will allow this vehicle to meet the European regulatory category L7e.
The vehicle prototype, named MUTE and developed by TU München will help researchers explore several key issue in mass production of electric vehicles, such as "vehicle safety, propulsion, energy storage, and operational concepts for implementation under the framework requirements of large-scale production". Safety has been given special attention, and it is expected that the resulting vehicle will have passenger protection levels similar to those of standard combustion engine vehicles.
The Visio.M project is fueled with over $14 million from the German Federal Ministry for Education. So perhaps in the near future we will see a new generation of clean, environmentally friendly, and rather inexpensive electric cars. If so, it could be the beginning of a new era for electric vehicles and in general for mass transportation.
Participants in the Visio.M consortium include the automotive companies BMW AG (lead manager), Daimler AG, the Technische Universität München as a scientific partner, Autoliv BV & Co. KG, the Federal Highway Research Institute (BAST), Continental Automotive GmbH, E.ON AG, Finepower GmbH, Hyve AG, IAV GmbH, InnoZ GmbH, Intermap Technologies GmbH, LION Smart GmbH, Neumayer Tekfor Holding GmbH, Siemens AG, Texas Instruments Germany GmbH and finally, TÜV SÜD AG as an industrial partner.