Automotive

InEco EV's steel-CFRP hybrid construction keeps weight under a ton

InEco EV's steel-CFRP hybrid c...
The InEco demonstrator vehicle was displayed at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
The InEco demonstrator vehicle was displayed at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
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The InEco has a sporty look
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The InEco has a sporty look
The InEco project has been underway for years
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The InEco project has been underway for years
A large grille and sharp headlamps define the InEco's front-end styling
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A large grille and sharp headlamps define the InEco's front-end styling
The InEco research vehicle can travel at speeds close to 100 mph
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The InEco research vehicle can travel at speeds close to 100 mph
The InEco's consumption is 9.7 kWh / 100 km
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The InEco's consumption is 9.7 kWh / 100 km
The InEco is powered by a small 15-kWh lithium-ion battery and 120-hp electric motor
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The InEco is powered by a small 15-kWh lithium-ion battery and 120-hp electric motor
The InEco research vehicle isn't exactly a speedy sports car, but it's capable for a modestly powered EV
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The InEco research vehicle isn't exactly a speedy sports car, but it's capable for a modestly powered EV
The InEco may never become reality, but perhaps some of its hybrid composite construction methods will
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The InEco may never become reality, but perhaps some of its hybrid composite construction methods will
The InEco demonstrator is a two-door, four-seat hatchback
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The InEco demonstrator is a two-door, four-seat hatchback
The InEco can travel about 75 miles on a charge
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The InEco can travel about 75 miles on a charge
With 120-hp on tap, the InEco can hit 62 mph in around 7.5 seconds
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With 120-hp on tap, the InEco can hit 62 mph in around 7.5 seconds
The InEco hits the track
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The InEco hits the track
The InEco hits the track
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The InEco hits the track
The InEco hits the track
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The InEco hits the track
The InEco demonstrator rides on 17-inch alloy wheels
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The InEco demonstrator rides on 17-inch alloy wheels
The InEco has a low-profile charging port in back
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The InEco has a low-profile charging port in back
The InEco can travel about 75 miles on a charge
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The InEco can travel about 75 miles on a charge
The Ineco has a hot hatch look
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The Ineco has a hot hatch look
The InEco rides on a chassis that weighs around 330 lb (150 kg)
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The InEco rides on a chassis that weighs around 330 lb (150 kg)
The InEco road demonstrator
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The InEco road demonstrator
The InEco road demonstrator
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The InEco road demonstrator
The InEco has a 2730-mm wheelbase and1600- mm track
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The InEco has a 2730-mm wheelbase and1600- mm track
The InEco road demonstrator
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The InEco road demonstrator
The university and corporate researchers on the InEco project experimented with new material blends to shave weight off the car
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The university and corporate researchers on the InEco project experimented with new material blends to shave weight off the car
The InEco car weighs just 1,984 lb (900 kg)
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The InEco car weighs just 1,984 lb (900 kg)
The InEco demonstrator vehicle was displayed at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
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The InEco demonstrator vehicle was displayed at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
The key to the InEco's light weight is its steel-CFRP hybrid construction
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The key to the InEco's light weight is its steel-CFRP hybrid construction
Inside the InEco
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Inside the InEco
The InEco uses a central tunnel for its lithium-ion cells
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The InEco uses a central tunnel for its lithium-ion cells
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A diagram of materials in the InEco car
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A diagram of materials in the InEco car
The InEco hood uses an ultralight sandwich construction
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The InEco hood uses an ultralight sandwich construction
The InEco hood uses an ultralight sandwich construction
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The InEco hood uses an ultralight sandwich construction
The InEco uses a central tunnel for its lithium-ion cells
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The InEco uses a central tunnel for its lithium-ion cells
View gallery - 34 images

One of the quieter debuts at last month's Frankfurt Motor Show was also one of the more interesting. The InEco electric car, developed at the Dresden University of Technology's Institute of Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology (TU Dresden's ILK), combines an innovative mix of materials to keep its weight down to under a ton and allow it to get the most out of its small electric powertrain.

InEco is an ongoing project by TU Dresden and several corporate partners, including Leichtbau-Zentrum Sachsen GmbH and ThyssenKrupp AG. At Frankfurt, the parties presented the first roadworthy demonstrator model, an urban-focused, four-seat hatchback.

The focus of the InEco project has been on experimenting with construction methods and material blends. The body and chassis of the car are built with a variety of materials, most notably steel and carbon fiber-reinforced polymer.

In using steel construction to augment and reinforce the CFRP, the InEco combines the advantages of both – the non-splintering malleability of steel, advantageous in crash protection, and the light weight, rigidity and high energy absorption of CFRP. Some structures are made strictly from steel, some from CFRP, some from a mix of both materials, and some from other materials like aluminum. The diagram below shows the different materials (in German) in use around the car's structure.

A diagram of materials in the InEco car
A diagram of materials in the InEco car

According to TU Dresden, the steel-CFRP hybrid construction has allowed for the simplification of the car's design, cutting 70 percent of traditional bodywork components out. The research vehicle weighs just 1,984 lb (900 kg), including a 330-lb (150-kg) chassis, batteries and electric powertrain. That low weight allows a modest combination of 120-hp synchronous motor and 15 kWh lithium-ion battery pack to push the four-seat hatchback to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 7.5 seconds and on to a top speed close to 100 mph (160 km/h). The 100-cell battery pack keeps firing for around 75 miles (120 km) of driving distance.

Those performance numbers don't sound all that different from current-generation electric vehicles, but the battery pack is smaller than average thanks to the car's low weight. For comparison, the Nissan Leaf uses a 24 kWh battery pack; the Ford Focus Electric uses a 23 kWh battery; and the Chevy Volt, a gas-electric hybrid, uses a 16.5 kWh battery.

The Ineco has a hot hatch look
The Ineco has a hot hatch look

Styling is often a distant afterthought when it comes to a technological research vehicle, but the InEco does manage to catch the eye with its Hyundai Veloster-like hot hatch look that comes courtesy of its sharp headlamps, descending roofline and wraparound-style glasshouse.

While the InEco isn't likely to show up in dealerships anytime soon, some of the methods used in its construction may influence the automotive industry.

Source: TU Dresden

View gallery - 34 images
5 comments
The Skud
Not a bad shape really, still falls at the hurdle of range though. Assuming they use things like regenerative braking, I wonder if they have considered a small generator addition to ensure full battery capacity? The vehicles embracing this idea seem much better suited to the 'real world' needs with cities or even so-called commuter suburbs spread out well apart.
euroflycars
120 hp, 4 seats and 100 mph, how can anyone dare to relate these sports-car parameters to an urban-focused car concept of the future? Just another proof that universities can't produce other than politically correct technical innovation in the individual mobility sector. 12 hp, 1 or 2 seats and 40 mph would be a far more realistic set of parameters, I guess.
Kevin E. James
Looks like a cool concept car. What. do you think?
Don Duncan
And the drag co-efficient? Why leave that out? It's just as important as the curb weight. Get that down to .15 and we might get 150-250 mi. range. Is it too much to expect the designers focus on the 2 fundamentals?
Ranscapture
120 hp and 1900lbs should be about 150mph