New Skate Chassis Concept for Electric Vehicles 2012-01-0039
The automotive industry paradigm shift from convention internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles brought new technical challenges for automotive OEMs. During this shifting period, electric vehicles are expected to be produced on small volumes, requiring new design and production processes. In order to have a more flexible and efficient production system, OEMs and suppliers are working on modularity as a design tool to reduce the time to market, reduce the complexity of supply chains and reduce the total vehicle production cost.
One of these modular components will be the chassis, which was introduced as a skate by GM on the Sequel concept. On this concept all the crashworthy components were included in the skate, over which an autobody was assembled. This skate-chassis included all the powertrain components, batteries, power electronics and motors, as well as braking and suspension systems.
This skate concept was applied to a new small urban electric vehicle and was focused on three main requirements: low production cost, low weight and modularity, assuring the accomplishment of all security and integrity requirements applicable to such a component. On an electric vehicle the optimal position of batteries shall be on a central and low position in the car. In order to take advantage of this configuration a single central beam was used as a structural element providing torsion and bending stiffness to the overall structure, with the batteries placed on both sides of this beam.
The use of bended sheet metal allows for a reduction on the production costs, adequate for the manufacturing on small production series. Additionally, the possibility of using different sheet thickness on different chassis parts allowed for a reduction on the overall weight of the chassis.