EU-funded Research Project to Focus on Lightweight EV Components Development

Article By : Anne-Françoise Pelé

A three-year EU-funded research project has been launched to develop lightweight components for electric vehicles (EVs) using eco-design and circular approaches.

Vehicle electrification has become an important measure for greenhouse gas reduction in Europe. One problem for car manufacturers, however, is the weight of the batteries. A three-year EU-funded research project has been launched to develop lightweight components for electric vehicles (EVs) using eco-design and circular approaches.

With mounting concern over the environment and ever-stringent emissions regulations, EVs are seen as an alternative form of transportation. “As governments have set aggressive targets to reduce CO2 emissions from mobility, automotive manufacturers have to implement the electrified car model into their fleet in order to avoid some heavy penalties,” explained Milan Rosina, principal analyst, Power Electronics & Batteries at Yole Développement.

EVs and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), especially plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), allow CO2 emission reduction in mobility. With an expected 13 million rechargeable vehicles in 2024, they represent “a very interesting market for power electronic devices,” said Rosina. “Automakers are focusing on large-capacity batteries. They allow higher power for EVs and provide more added-value for the customers.” The driving range indeed increases as battery capacity grows and efficiency improves.

The battery weight can also impact the performance, the economic and environmental benefits of EVs.

The LEVIS research project, which will receive €4.9 million from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, aims to develop lightweight technologies that can directly contribute to improving vehicle efficiency in terms of kWh consumed per kilometer and vehicle autonomy (km per full battery cycle), and reducing the environmental impact. A consortium of thirteen industrial and research partners from seven countries has been formed. Coordinated by the Technological Institute of Aragon ITAINNOVA (Zaragoza, Spain), it aims to show the technical and economic feasibility of cost-effective components in three real-case demonstrators: a suspension control arm, the system for clamping and packing the batteries, and a cross beam..

“We will use multi-material solutions based on thermoplastic carbon fiber compounds integrated with metals, which will be produced through a set of profitable and scalable manufacturing technologies,” said Agustín Chiminelli, scientific coordinator of the project (Instituto Tecnológico de Aragón), in a statement.

Due to their mechanical properties, these composites are suitable for light applications. In this regard, the LEVIS project plans to develop solutions for these multi-material components based on resins and environmentally-friendly reinforcement systems, cost-effective manufacturing processes, optimized joints, advanced simulation methodologies and structural integrity monitoring technologies. The combination of these developments should result in lightweight components, partners said.

The lightweight components will be developed using a circular approach. Partners said they will use recyclable materials and design the components in such a way that “nothing will be wasted and each part can be recycled or reused for the same component or for other applications”.

The consortium expects to bring these lightweight EV components to the market by the end of the project.

Besides ITAINNOVA, partners include Marelli Suspension Systems and Privé (Italy); Mersen France Angers, Association pour le Développement de l’Enseignement et des Recherches auprès des Universités, des Centers de Recherche et des Entreprises d’Aquitaine and Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives (France); Yeşilova Holding and ofaş Türk Otomobil Fabrikasi (Turkey); Northwest Metallurgical Research Association and Leartiker S. Coop (Spain); Association pour le Développement de l’Enseignement et des Recherches auprès des Universités, des Centers de Recherche et des Entreprises d’Aquitaine, Rise Sicomp (Sweden); Stichting Cenex Nederland (The Netherlands); Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum der Steinbeis Innovation (Germany).

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