As part of its contribution to a recently completed major European research initiative to achieve more efficient and cost-effective hybrid powertrains for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles, Ricardo has developed a new 48V e-motor offering up to a 50% increase in power density compared with current production machines.

The new motor and accompanying inverter were designed for high-performance, low-cost electrification which aims to extend the performance of 48V hybrids to offer a more attractive and affordable alternative to higher-voltage hybrid cars.

Design and testing was part of the company's contribution to the European COmpetitiveness in Commercial Hybrid and AutoMotive PowertrainS (ECOCHAMPS) project.

Ricardo was one of 25 collaborating EU commercial and academic partners on this project, the focus of which was to achieve both a 20% powertrain efficiency improvement and a 20% reduction in weight and in volume in comparison with the best full hybrid vehicles on the market at the start of the project.

The target was a cost premium no more than 10% over equivalent conventional products – which is considerably less than the additional cost of current hybrid architectures.

The ECOCHAMPS project - recently completed - focused on the hybridisation requirements of a range of vehicles from C and B class passenger cars, to light delivery trucks, city buses, and long haul heavy-duty trucks.  The project delivered five demonstrator vehicles to show and validate the full benefits approach taken in creating low-cost hybrid powertrains.

In addition to broadly achieving the targets set for all five vehicle classes, the ECOCHAMPS vehicles demonstrated their constituent technologies up to a Technology Readiness Level of 7.

The new e-motor delivers a 50% increase in power density compared to the previous baseline design of the motor and contributes to the targeted 20% increase in overall powertrain fuel efficiency of the ECOCHAMPS project.

Testing was carried out at Ricardo facilities in Cambridge and Shoreham-by-Sea on three prototype units built for the project.

Results of this work are expected to be published and presented at the IEEE ECCE at Portland, Oregon in September 2018. This marks the start of a series of presentations being made on the results of the ECOCHAMPS project in China, Japan, USA, EU, India and the UK.

MD of Ricardo Innovations, Thomas Gutwald, said the technology would enable automakers to create a new generation of better performing and highly cost-effective 48V hybrids that offer close to the fuel-efficiency of full hybrids at a fraction of the on-cost.