London Design Festival: CUE-V

London Design Festival Editorial: Avid CUE-V on display

Why has it taken so long for people to catch on to electric vehicles? As LEWIS KILEEN suggests in this article, persuading the public to use it is not so much a technology problem, it’s a classic design problem.

The latest incarnation of the electric car, the Switch Electric Vehicle, will be featuring in this years London Design Festival. AVID Vehicles, the company behind the Switch Electric Vehicle, have taken a new approach on this highly debated technology. The AVID Switch EV uses M3 Multi Motor technology with Lithium Polymer batteries. The CUE-V, the prototype of this project, is a 100 volt vehicle which uses two motors one set above each front wheel, providing direct power where needed. The use of two motors solves previous issues such as power flow and demands. The battery packs are built with their own BMS control systems, which interestingly enough is similar to the control consoles that are found on lighting, and ventilation systems. These computer based consoles operate on a network which allows them to communicate with the rest of the vehicle, without the need of a central computer. This all allows the vehicle to maximise performance without trading on usability.

The CUE-V, has also made significant design improvements in making this new manifestation of the electric car differ from its predecessors. The frame of the design is similar to existing vehicles, however it has been modified to eliminate redundant weight and this has also allowed the entirety of the electric drive system to be installed outside of the luggage and passenger compartments, drastically increasing the capacity and usability of this prototype.

Nick Gianfreda, Spokesman for AVID Vehicles had this to say on the project “AVID has taken a different approach to make the vehicles as cost effective as possible and gain the maximum performance from technologies used. By removing all the redundant parts and systems a light, user friendly vehicle can be achieved. The design of the mechanical and electrical systems is key to a successful and cost effective project. Some other projects around eat up usable space in the car. The outside of the car has been restyled to give it a new, fresh appearance fitting to that of an electric vehicle”

The Switch Electric Vehicle has identified, and attempted to rectify several of the issues that has stopped existing ultra-low carbon emission technology from becoming widely accepted as the future of personal transport. The Switch EV looks the part as well, the aesthetically pleasant design doing away with the odd, squashed looking visage of it predecessors.

Electric vehicles have yet to be wholeheartedly accepted by the motoring public, this is due to several reason; from the design flaws that have been mentioned above to issues as elementary as market appeal. However it can’t be denied that ultra-low and low carbon emission technology have a vital role to play in the sustainability of Britain’s roads. David Quarmby, Chairman of RAC Foundation, is going to be delivering a lecture about the sustainability policy of London roads at this years London Design Festival. He also spoke to this reporter about the place the Switch EV and its predecessors have on London’s roads, and if social responsibility will ease the implementation of this new technology. “They have a critical place, but the question remains of exactly whether ‘ultra-low’ or just ‘low’ is still open, the outcome depends on factors such as relative costs to both the consumer and the government, practicalities such as battery charging and range, market attraction is also an issue. Conscience alone will not drive mass market adoption, even if a ‘concerned’ segment of the market are early adopters.”

The Switch EV has attacked and potentially eliminated several technical issues that have prevented electric car dealers from running out of stock; however you’ll have to decide if this electric powered people carrier is a people pleaser.

Source: SwitchEV
21 September 2010

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