“I was surprised to see how fast it charges the battery, within seconds.”

“From everything I’ve seen so far, my biggest surprise was how well the low-voltage hybrid performs,” says Eric White (Ricardo). “So, at much lower cost, you can compete with the high-voltage hybrids.” It is quite compelling for a new technology to get such a good powertrain efficiency and acceptable performance, at a price at which it can be applied to a wide range of vehicles.”

Eric White is a golden engineer in the ECOCHAMPS project. “Or actually, we are a team of specialists at Ricardo to make sure that everything works as advertised.” Eric is responsible for evaluating the light duty demonstrators in the project, Michele De Gennaro (JRC) is responsible for assessing the heavy duty vehicles. “At the start of the project, we were involved in setting the technical targets for each demonstrator, based on the ECOCHAMPS project expected impact,” says Eric. “We used simulations and other techniques to find out what was possible within the scope of the project.”

During the project, the Golden Engineers were tracking the developments. “That means we looked at the evidence that the OEM’s have provided and considered how convincing this information was, and compared it to our knowledge and simulated predictions”. For instance, a lot of corrections need to be taken into account when emissions and efficiency are reported by the OEM. Eric: “The measurement instruments record exhaust gaseous emissions from the vehicle whilst it is tested, and maybe the vehicle is in a different inertia class compared to the base car, or the traction battery state of charge needs to be taken into account. We need to check that all calculations are valid and reasonable.”

The golden engineers are in the project to make sure that the evaluation of the demonstrator vehicles compared to the project targets is independent. Eric: “Of course, it is not straightforward to share information between companies due to confidentiality. Efficiency, emissions, mass and volume figures are made available for inspection, and performance can be assessed by driving the cars, but cost data, in particular, is very sensitive. However, the golden engineers can see how much the prototype powertrain has cost at relative macro-cluster level, and how many cars need to be produced to have a business case.”

“What I like best, is to see what the overall benefit of the new technology is. Is it better to have a 48V or a 300V system? Does a bigger battery or e-machine provide significant benefit or not? And of course, it’s great to drive the cars and feel the results of all the hard work the OEM’s have put into them.   When I drove the Renault Megane 48V hybrid, it had a dashboard display that will please engineers to see: when braking, it shows how the energy is flowing between battery, electric motor and engine. I was surprised to see how fast the system charges the battery during energy recovery; within seconds, not minutes. If you pull away slowly, you can see the battery discharge as you accelerate, and see the combustion engine kicking-in when the battery voltage drops too low. You can see all of that work in action on the screen as you feel it in the vehicle. That is very rewarding.”

“Participating in ECOCHAMPS as part of golden engineer team has been a unique and rewarding experience, and I’m grateful to have been able to make my own small contribution to such a valuable and interesting project.”