The close of 2012 is but a few short days away, and the promised production version of the QBEAK electric car has yet to appear. Its Danish developers have advised that unforeseen challenges along the route to producing what they claim will be the most environmentally-, energy- and city-friendly car in the world have eaten away at the original time schedule and forced a launch date rethink. Meanwhile, the company has unveiled a third prototype that marks a significant improvement on earlier versions.
Development of the lightweight QBEAK electric vehicle began in 2009 and while the latest version is not quite production-ready, it is described as being very close to a finished model. ECOmove has now included a basic charging structure in the version three prototype, along with instrumentation and controls positioned in the center of the steering wheel.
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The handle-free sliding doors are operated using a credit-card-like key externally and buttons internally, although the company's CEO Mogens Løkke did tell us that users will be able to enter and leave the vehicle manually in the unlikely event of a systems failure. There have also been some improvements made to the outside and inside.
"One of the biggest changes in materials is the coating of the EPP bodywork (wheel arches, bumpers etc.) which is completely new," said Løkke. "It is flexible and robust to small bumps and accidents. It has a rubbery surface – a bit like rubber coating. For demonstration purposes we have added two comfortable seats allowing two passengers to feel the excellent driving dynamics. The low and centered point of weight (batteries in the lower part of the chassis) allows us to throw the car around corners and easily catch control again if it should tend to slide."
The ECOmove in-wheel motors (one for each of the rear wheels) are reported to deliver approximately 50 hp, which is expected to more than meet city traffic needs while also being capable of reaching and maintaining highway speed. The 500-kg (1,102-lb) vehicle currently uses an 80-volt drive train, but plans are in place to ramp that up to 300 volts in the future.
"When it comes to battery configuration, we expect to announce more details later on," Løkke told us. "However, I can confirm that the system for simple battery swap-outs is integrated and will support more different power module systems (we are working on a fuel cell system)."
"The smartphone integration is progressing and is still to be implemented in the QBEAK III," he added. "We will soon demonstrate an intelligent sound alert system as an option for warning pedestrians. We are performing simulations for crash but are planning to run some destructive tests soon."
According to ECOmove, discussions are currently underway with experienced manufacturing and supply chain management companies in Denmark and abroad to ready the QBEAK for mass production and distribution in major markets such as Europe, America and Asia. The first production vehicle is now expected to roll out of the factory door in 2014.
Video of the QBEAK III prototype can be viewed below.