|14 May 2010
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Oficina de Información Científica
The green revolution for cars is just around
the corner. The electric car is part of the almost immediate future,
although certainly challenges first have to be met, such as the availability
of good supply and recharging networks, the development of more autonomous
batteries, and the perfection of electric engines. These issues as
well as many others were discussed at the I
Cumbre Universitaria del Vehículo Eléctrico (1st
Conference on the Electric Car) held at the Leganes campus of Universidad
Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), where more than 100 experts in the field debated
how to confront such issues and presented some major projects in this area.
The spark was ignited more than 10 years ago
by the arrival of the first hybrid vehicle in the market, a vehicle which
combines a traditional combustion engine with an electric one. But
since then the panorama has changed and we now speak of "total electrification"
of cars; some consultants say that with in 10 years the percentage of electric
cars could even reach 25%. In addition, this could result in very
important savings in energy and environmental benefits, based on the data
from the sector. And in the case of the electric car, 46% of the
energy released by batteries is spent in propulsion, which indicates an
efficiency level that is between 10% and 30% higher, with respect to the
conventional combustion engine.
The engineering revolution
From an engineering point of view, this is
truly revolutionary, according to the Director of the UC3M Leganes School
of Engineering, Professor Emilio Olías Ruiz, one of the speakers
during these sessions. If the car of today, which runs on fossil fuels,
has supposed a change in the model of transport for our society, the electric
car "is beginning to be introduced in our collective consciousness as
a necessity which is of ever increasing importance as it could be one of
the most important solutions for the problem of sustainable transport,
incorporating appropriate new technology solutions adapted to its requirements",
he pointed out.
This "green world" is just beginning.
"There are many challenges to be met, which also makes it a world of
technology research, development and innovation, to which this country
is totally committed, and it is making a strong bid, for example, to have
electronic vehicle manufacturing plants", said the Full Professor Vicente
Díaz López, Director of the UC3M "Duque de Santomauro"
Instituto de Seguridad de los Vehículos Automóviles (Institute
of Vehicle Safety) (ISVA), which organized this University conference,
held May 6 and 7 in the Leganés Auditorium of this Madrid institution.
"This will create many jobs, directly and indirectly, in addition to
fomenting the synergy between the university and the business world, which
I think is a desirable point and a generator for intellection and economic
wealth", Díaz pointed out
An interdisciplinary design
The talks on the first day of this conference
focused on the possibilities for these cars in the tourist sector as well
as delving into issues such as the regulations associated with the electric
car and the hybrid car, and the new concepts of cars for urban mobility
within the framework of sustainable development or design strategies.
In this vein for example, the electric car can be thought of as a whole
in which many different branches of engineering are involved.
"It has to be understood as a complete system, in which a multitude
of technologies are involved, from the mechanical to the electronic, and
including informatics, and not as something autonomous, since it requires
a supply of electric energy to recharge its batteries", Emilio Olías,
Full Professor of Electronic Technology at UC3M, stated.
For it, it is essential to take into account diffe rent aspects, such as
weight, aerodynamics, power, performance, acceleration, braking Systems,
efficient energy management, and establishing a driving culture which contemplates
aspects related to sustainability. "All the systems and subsystems should
be supervised through adequate electronic control, completely dependable
computer systems, and an internal communications network which guarantees
a similar or even improved level of performance than that offered by today’s
commercial vehicles", Professor Olias concluded.
The fact is that in the interaction between
the electric motor and the storage systems, the two critical elements for
this type of vehicles, electronics plays an important role, as do programming
and software. The main challenge in this sense is incorporating the
software engineers into the electric car production process, affirms the
UC3M Full Professor, Antonio de Amescua Seco, who spoke on this matter
within the framework of the ses sions. "It must be understood,
he explained, that the software for a electronic car is not only lines
of code, but also an engineering software process that must be taken into
account from the moment the vehicle is conceptualized until it is sold".
Innovation and sustainability
The vision of these researchers as to how
to participate in the development of this kind of vehicles from the Software
Engineering perspective is to opt for innovation and sustainability. In
the first case, being creative, making innovations in technology which
allows the interaction between machines, its occupants and environment;
and in the second case, developing programming based on re-use, portability
and the ability to be maintained. This is true in the software on
board, which allows the vehicle to function well internally, as well as
the software not on board, by which the car can be connected to assistance
or traffic information systems, traffic slow do wn areas, or recharging
points, which "begin to be necessary to make driving safer and to guarantee
that the infrastructure of electric service stations communicate
appropriately with the vehicle", Profesor Amescua pointed out.
Also analysed in the other first day sessions
of the conference were the transition of the electric car, some keys to
its marketing strategy and the regulations associated with it, among other
matters. In addition, diverse manufactures of the vehicles (Mitsubishi,
Peugeot, Toyota, Renault, Seat, Honda) joined in on a round table discussion
to debate the past, present and future of the electric car. "Japan
is some years ahead regarding what is being presented, while in Europe
we are still talking about non-commercialized prototypes", reflected
Vicente Díaz, who stated the big manufacturers are making significant
efforts to make competitive and economically viable electric vehicles available
In the second session of this conference,
other complementary aspects of the sector were dealt with, regarding industrial
vehicles and collective transport vehicles, in addition to presenting various
projects that are underway in these areas. In this respect, Spain
stands out more in the bodywork sector than in production, since these
buses are usually produced in other countries. This is in spite of
the fact that in 1954, PEGASO, which is now known as IVECO,
commercialized an electric car in our country. "In fact, added
Díaz, the first vehicle that existed in the world, one with a
steam engine, was followed by an electric vehicle that reached speeds of
up to 100 Km/h. However, it later disappeared without really knowing
why, and then internal combustion engine became dominant at the beginning
of the past century." Now it appears that the fate of the electric
motor vehicle will be different.
According to the organizers of this University
Cumbre of the Electronic Vehicle, the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
is the first Spanish university to be involved from a technical and scientific
standpoint in the area of electric vehicle design and production.
"We are now in the phase of relations with some important companies
through the research institute, of which I am in charge, and I believe
we are going to be able to achieve some solid scientific advances through
the ISVA, as well as other University Institutes", Vicente Díaz