The Frankfurt Motor Show is here, and major automakers are duking it out for a lion’s share of the attention with their latest concept cars. But there are smaller outfits there too, including a German university that rolled out the InEco Concept. It’s a small, all-electric car with the same driving range as many mass market EVs, but manages to weigh less than 2,000 pounds.
A product of the Dresden Institute of Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology, the InEco concept undeniably resembles a cross between the Hyundai Veloster. But more than looks, it’s a product meant to demonstrate the new materials and methods of shaving weight from electric vehicles.
Working with industrial partners like Leichtbau-Zentrum Sachsen GmbH and ThyssenKrupp AG, researchers and students built an electric car that, including its battery pack, weighs just 1,984 pounds, or around 900 kilograms. Carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, steel-hybrid composites, and intelligent design keeps the curb weight down, eliminating a major roadblock to electric car range increases; the heavy, heavy battery.
While Tesla Motors has simply brute-forced its way to a solution by using a large 85 kWh battery, most electric cars settle for battery packs between 20 and 30 kWh to achieve around 80 to 90 miles of range per charge. But the InEco Concept makes due with just a 15 kWh battery pack and a 122 horsepower electric motor, which allows it to go as far as 87 miles between charges. Even better, acceleration from 0 to 60 mph takes just 7.5 seconds, with a top speed of around 100 mph.
Lightweight composite material technology is working its way into mainstream automobiles more and more, from supercar concepts to production model hoods. if anything is a preview of the future of electric cars, it’s the lightweight body panels of the InEco Concept.