Schaeffler’s Fiesta E-Wheel Drive concept car finished ahead of other electric vehicles, some of which are already in volume production, in the 4th Silvretta E-Car Rally (4-7 July 2013) in Montafon, Austria.

The Rally is an annual three-day race between electric vehicles over three Alpine stages. The drivers must economise on the use of kilowatts, volts and amperes in order to avoid penalty points and to finish with sufficient battery charge.

The Fiesta E-Wheel Drive concept car is the result of a collaborative project between Schaeffler and Ford. The concept car is powered by two highly integrated wheel hub drives installed in the rear wheel arches. All components required for driving, deceleration and safety – such as electric motor, power electronics, controller, brake and cooling system – are mounted to the wheel rims. These provide power outputs of 40 kW per drive, and a continuous output of 2 x 33 kW, which equates to 110 hp and 90 hp respectively. The liquid-cooled wheel hub drive delivers up to 700 Nm of torque. The electrical voltage of the high-voltage drive is 360-420 V.

Schaeffler’s CTO Prof. Peter Gutzmer, who shared the cockpit of the concept car with Prof. Pim van der Jagt, managing director of Ford Research & Advanced Engineering Europe, commented: “Schaeffler wanted to gain additional experience in terms of the level of development of the wheel hub drive, which is intended for urban electric vehicles of the future. We completed this challenging three-day rally with a pre-production model without any problems, even on long, steep hill climbs and during downhill driving with energy recovery – a significant advantage offered by electric vehicles.”

“This B-segment vehicle serves as a pre-production model. However, wheel hub drives have to be integrated into new vehicle concepts in order to demonstrate their strengths to the full. Due to this highly integrated wheel hub drive, we can now re-think the city car without restrictions,” he added.

“This drive will be a key factor in new vehicle concepts and automotive platforms of the future. For urban electric vehicles, which could become obligatory in many densely populated areas, the wheel hub drive enables significant space savings that cannot be achieved with internal combustion engines. In these new vehicle concepts, all components related to propulsion, braking and driving safety are housed inside the wheel. The vehicle platform therefore provides maximum space for passengers, luggage and for the battery, electronics and communication systems.”