Pihsiang Unveils “ACHENSA” Brand Urban EV Model

Dec 09, 2011 Ι Industry In-Focus Ι Electronics and Computers Ι By Quincy Liang, CENS
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The Pihsiang Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Co. (PEVMC), a fully-owned subsidiary of Taiwan's Pihsiang Machinery Manufacturing Co. (PMMC), recently announced its first urban electric vehicle (EV) model and its own "ACHENSA" brand for all auto products that the Pihsiang Group will manufacture in the future.

The ACHENSA urban EV features 100% in-house development and Made-in-Taiwan production.

Donald Wu, chairman of both companies, claimed during the ceremony introducing the EV that it is the first such Asian-made vehicle to comply with the European L6 and L7 automotive standards. The vehicle's chassis, structure, battery pack, battery management system (BMS), and electric control system, he said, were all developed in-house by PMMC, which is the world's top manufacturer of medical-care electric scooters.

Jenny Wu (left), president of PMMC, and her husband Donald Wu, chairman of the company, jointly show off the ACHENSA brand logo.

The Pihsiang Energy Technology Co. (PHET), another PMMC subsidiary and the world's first mass-producer of patented C-LiFePO4 battery cells and packs, is responsible for supplying the 18650 cylindrical C-LiFePO4 cells used in the new EV.

Strong Growth Predictions
When introducing his company's EV, PMMC chief financial officer Jeffrey Chang pointed out that the production of electric vehicles is being stepped up all over the world, and that automakers are planning to launch an increasing variety of new models over the next few years. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) will capture an ever-larger share of the global automobile market.

Quoting data compiled by Pike Research, Chang said that the annual market for HEVs and PHEVs would grow to 2.9 million vehicles by 2017, with surging fuel costs, government purchase incentives, increasing fuel economy standards, and increased vehicle availability benefiting both types of EVs to different degrees. In the hybrid electric market, he pointed out, incentives are playing less of a role as countries either eliminate or reduce them, but the availability of more models creates broader appeal in North America and growth in Europe.

Global shipments of EVs, including BEVs, PHEVs, and HEVs are projected to grow from one million in 2011 to 2.9 million in 2017, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.5%, while shipments of BEVs alone are expected to grow from 80,000 units to 800,000 over the same period, for CAGR of 46.8%, Chang said.

PEVMC/PMMC chose to focus on the urban BEV segment, Chang explained, because of the availability of such incentives as duty-free import, road tax holiday, government subsidies (of 3,000 to 6,000 euro in some European nations), and free parking on pavement.

Chang further explained that Europe's L6 standards limit overall vehicular weight to 350 kilograms and maximum speed to less than 45 kilometer per hour, while L7 certification limits weight to 400kg and imposes no speed limitation (but bans such vehicles from highways). Both certifications require vehicular structure to withstand a drag force of over 2.2 tons (PMMC's urban EV can reach 5.5 tons) and to resist electromagnetic interference (EMI).

PEVMC's two-seat urban EV, Chang continued, weighs about 340kg (battery pack included) and measures 2.1m x 1.1m x 1.7m. Its top speed is 79 kph (but can be adjusted to meet different national standards) and its cruise range is 75 to 85 km. Charging time is only 1.5 hours (at 90V-250V).

The four-wheel urban EV targets several different consumer groups, including housewives, officer workers, and senior citizens, who often utilize smaller and lighter vehicles for short-distance commuting.

Chang stressed that his company's urban EV offers several competitive advantages, including a price of less than 15,000 euro (before government subsidies are subtracted), compliance with the need short-distance commuting and easy parking, a cruise range adequate for city driving, and high safety (thanks to the patented DOSBAS battery system and well-designed vehicular structure).

Secret Weapon: Safe Battery Systems
As part of his introduction, Chairman Wu claimed that the new urban EV would be introduced in certain target markets in the first quarter of 2012, including Europe, Japan, and the U.S. "In the future,” he said, “all EVs or cars with other propulsion solutions developed and manufactured by PMMC will carry the brand ACHENSA—a combination of the words Achievement, Environment, and Safety."

According to the chairman, the ACHENSA urban EV's secret weapons are power cells supplied by PHET and the patented DOSBAS (Donald Safe Battery Systems).

In a previous interview, Wu explained: "The LiFePO4 battery is the best energy storer developed in the past 30 to 50 years, and PMMC and PHET are integrating resources to help popularize and enhance the practicality of e-bicycles, e-scooters, and e-cars." As the world's only volume manufacturer of C-LiFePO4 batteries, Wu said, PHET has been exclusively licensed by Phostech Lithium Inc. to make, market, and distribute patented C-coated LiFePO4 cathode films and batteries for electric bikes, electric scooters, and hospital wheelchairs and scooters.

The DOSBAS use a fuse device to isolate any cell(s) that overheat because of internal short-circuiting, and can help protect normal cells from thermal runaway. This design, Wu stressed, can not only prolong the life of the battery pack but also prevent injury to vehicle occupants by blocking cells damaged by external impact. Also, because of its simplicity of structure, the DOSBAS battery system has been proven able to withstand vibration and weather conditions by putting it through 150 hours in a salt mist chamber. A DOSBAS battery pack also passed short-circuiting tests with no temperature increase or cell damage.

"The main function of the system is to protect each of its cells individually by a serially connected quick-blow fuse, with or without a light-emitting diode (LED) indicator," Wu said. "The protected cells are then connected in a serial or parallel configuration and encapsulated in a prismatic plastic box together with a voltage-balancing circuit. The system can further upgrade the inherent safety of the C-LiFePO4 chemistry to a roadworthy level. In addition to the robustness of the DOSBAS battery system in safety terms, its total cost is significantly reduced by the replacement of isolated malfunctioning cells in the system during maintenance."

A LiFePO4 battery pack (with 18,650 cells) protected by DOSBAS.

In comparison with other battery systems using large-format cells, such as 18650 or 26650 cells, or even lithium-polymer cells, DOSBAS can reduce costs and enhance reliability. "The BOSBAS safe battery system is devised as a trade-off among performance, safety, reliability, and cost in the battery systems for EV or HEV applications," Wu noted.

At the press conference introducing his new EV, Wu concluded by saying that PMMC had devoted itself to the development of the urban vehicle few years ago with the aim of increasing the popularity of such environment-friendly vehicles. PMMC is optimistic about the future sales of its EV, and has built a new factory in eastern Taiwan to mass produce it.
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