The Hypercar design concept combines an ultralight, ultra-aerodynamic autobody with a hybrid-electric drive system. This combination would allow dramatic improvements in fuel efficiency and emissions. Computer models predict that near-term hypercars of the same size and performance of today's typical 4-5 passenger family cars would get three times better fuel economy . In the long run, this factor could surpass five, even approaching ten. Emissions, depending on the power plant, or APU, would drop between one and three orders of magnitude, enough to qualify as an "equivalent" zero emission vehicles (EZEV).
In all, hypercars' fuel efficiency, low emissions, recyclability, and durability should make them very friendly to the environment. However, environmental friendliness is currently not a feature that consumers particularly look for when purchasing a car. Consumers value affordability, safety, durability, performance, and convenience much more. If a vehicle can not meet these consumer desires as well as be profitable for its manufacturer, it will not succeed in the marketplace. Simply put, market acceptance is paramount. As a result, hypercars principally strive to be more attractive than conventional cars to consumers, on consumers' own terms, and just as profitable to make.
Revolution concept car design
The Revolution fuel-cell concept vehicle was developed by Hypercar, Inc. in 2000 to demonstrate the technical feasibility and societal, consumer, and competitive benefits of holistic vehicle design focused on efficiency and lightweighting. It was designed to have breakthrough fuel economy and emissions, meet US and European Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and meet a rigorous and complete set of product requirements for a sporty five-passenger SUV crossover vehicle market segment with technologies that could be in volume production within five years (Figure 1).
The Revolution combines lightweight, aerodynamic, and electrically and thermally efficient design with a hybridized fuel-cell propulsion system to deliver the following combination of features with 857 kg kerb mass, 2.38m2 effective frontal area, 0.26CD, and 0.0078 r0:
- Seats five adults in comfort, with a package similar to the Lexus RX-300 (6% shorter overall and 10% lower than a 2000 Ford Explorer but with slightly greater passenger space)
- 1.95-m3 cargo space with the rear seats folded flat
- 2.38 L/100km (99 miles per US gallon) equivalent, using a direct-hydrogen fuel cell, and simulated for realistic US driving behaviour
- 530-km range on 3.4 kg of hydrogen stored in commercially available 345-bar tanks
- Zero tailpipe emissions
- Accelerates 0±100 km/h in 8.3 seconds
- No body damage in impacts up to 10 km/h (crash simulations are described below)
- All-wheel drive with digital traction and vehicle stability control
- Ground clearance adjustable from 13 to 20 cm through a semi-active suspension that adapts to load, speed, location of the vehicle's centre of gravity, and terrain
- Body stiffness and torsional rigidity 50% or more higher than in premium sports sedans
- Designed for a 300 000á-km service life; composite body not susceptible to rust or fatigue
- Modular electronics and software architecture and customizable user interface
- Potential for the sticker price to be competitive with the Lexus RX-300, Mercedes M320, and BMW X5 3.0, with significantly lower lifecycle cost.
Every system within the Revolution is significantly lighter than conventional systems to achieve an overall mass saving of 52%. Techniques used to minimize mass, discussed below, include integration, parts consolidation, and appropriate application of new technology and lightweight materials. No single system or materials substitution could have achieved such overall mass savings without strong whole-car design integration. Many new engineering issues arise with such a lightweight yet large vehicle. While none are showstoppers, many required new solutions that were not obvious and demanded a return to engineering fundamentals.
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