Industry 4.0 processes make city e-car affordable

July 06, 2016 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
e.Go Life is an affordable electric city car
Electric vehicles are mostly known for being rather expensive. After all, the battery as well as innovative materials and design principles drive the price level to where it is – and certainly higher than that of comparable conventional cars. An electric vehicle developed by e.Go Mobile AG promises to undercut even cheap traditional set of wheels. The difference is the smart use of advanced IT approaches like industry 4.0.

The e.Go Life is a rather simple vehicle: 2 x 2 seats, 15 kW continuous power output (2 x 10 kW peak), maximum speed 90 kmph and a driving range of just 80 km in the basis version, 120 km in the extended version. The powertrain is already a surprise: In contrast to more or less all electric vehicles that run off a high-voltage battery, the e.Go Life contents itself with 48 V. Which enabled the designers to deploy a cost-effective 48V motor out of Bosch’s mass production.

 

But this is not yet the key factor that allows the e.Go designers to offer the vehicle for just 12.500 euros (the luxury version carries a price tag of 13.900 euros). What makes the car so cheap is the production process. eGo Mobile AG, a spin-off of the RWTH University of Aachen (Germany) transferred the Scrum process, known from software engineering, to car design. Scrum is a flexible, iterative and incremental approach that has proven to speed up large projects and at the same time to keep costs at bay. Thus, the development of the entire car did not cost more than €50 million – a very low price for such a task. Plus, the designers chose to use 3D printing technologies. This enabled them to develop virtual prototypes on their computers and to directly build real versions of these parts in a 3D printer, directly controlled by a PLM software that contained the design data. 30 Percent of the vehicle’s components were made in the printer; no conventional machinery like sheet metal presses or die-cutters were needed.

 

The PLM software also enabled the design engineers to work in parallel in multiple teams which devised several virtual and functional prototypes each. For the verification of the designs, the developers could utilize the aixCAVE Virtual Reality computing resources in the RWTH Aachen University’s IT Center. This resource significantly sped up the


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