The Visio.M Project: Creating a Lightweight, Carbon Fiber Electric Car

5th February 2013

Can an electric vehicle be extremely light and safe at the same time? Researchers working on the Visio.M project aim to show that the answer is yes. Scientists as well engineers from Germany’s leading technology companies have teamed up to develop a visionary lightweight concept car to meet tomorrow’s electro-mobility needs.

The aim of the Visio.M project is to develop a mobility concept for an efficient electric vehicle, making the design as light as possible while still delivering the best possible safety protection. The Visio.M engineers decided in favor of an innovative monocoque body structure. Typically used in racing cars, a monocoque chassis combined with lightweight materials enables good stability while keeping overall weight to a minimum.


The Visio.M Prototype Vehicle


The developers are also breaking new ground in their choice of ultra-lightweight materials for the structure: The passenger compartment will be made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. Composite materials of this type are already used in the manufacture of aircraft and luxury sports cars. The downside is that they are extremely complex to produce and expensive as a result. So the Visio.M engineers intend to investigate the feasibility of carbon fiber materials in ultra-compact cars suitable for series production.

For the drive system, too, the Visio.M developers are looking to keep weight to an absolute minimum. The e-car they are designing will have an efficient and compact asynchronous electric engine. The transmission system will incorporate very light gears resting on hollow shafts. This would make the gears up to 15 percent lighter than conventional designs.

The lightweight design innovations may be impressive, but driver and passenger safety is still the number one priority of the Visio.M project. The sturdy carbon fiber structure will incorporate various dedicated active and passive features addressing the specific safety challenges of an ultra-compact electric car. The ideas being investigated include specially adapted seatbelts as well as other innovative concepts to minimize potential injuries in the event of an accident. By the end of the project, the researchers hope that they will have achieved the maximum possible level of safety.

Funded by €10.8million over a two and a half year period, it will focus on the research area of Key Technologies of Electromobility, outlined by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The Visio.M consortium is made up of: BMW AG; Daimler AG; Autoliv BV and Co KG; the Federal Highway Research Institute; E.ON AG; Finepower GmbH; Hyve AG; Innoz GmbH; IAV GmbH; Intermap Technologies GmbH; Neumayer Tekfor Holding GmbH; LION Smart GmbH; Siemens AG; TUV SUD AG; Texas Instruments Germany GmbH; Continental Automotive GmbH; and the Technische Universitat Munchen.