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Munich university prepares to unveil affordable electric car

The Local · 15 Jul 2011, 11:18

Published: 15 Jul 2011 11:18 GMT+02:00

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This week researchers performed their first driving test with a prototype for the Mute electric auto, a 3.5 metre-long car that could serve as a model for future electric vehicles.

Right now, purely electric cars don’t make financial sense for most consumers. In addition to having to repeatedly charge their batteries, they are expensive compared to most conventional petrol-powered vehicles.

An all-electric Chevrolet Volt – one of the very few affordable electric models available – starts at about €23,120, whereas the petrol-powered ultra-affordable Smart car can be had for €8,831.

The university won’t yet say how much the Mute might cost, but they do say its secret lies in its low weight of only 400 kg, which allows it to drive further on a given battery charge.

“Low weight is essential for electric vehicles,” said Professor Markus Lienkamp, head of Automotive Technology at TUM in a statement. “More weight requires higher battery capacity for the same range and thus generates significantly higher costs. More weight also means inferior dynamics for a given level of motor power. But what we are aiming at is an affordable car that is fun to drive.”

Fun it certainly is, they claim. The researchers say the Mute showed outstanding driving dynamics during its test run.

When finally released, the Mute will be able to drive at least 100 kilometres on one charge and reach speeds of up to 120 km/h.

Story continues below…

More than 200 students and a staff of 20 academics have been working on the project. It is set to be unveiled to the world at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in September.

DPA/The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:07 July 15, 2011 by freechoice
you can't make this here, it will cost a bomb to consumer. license the technolgy to some third world country like Brazil, India and China. help the world to solve the environment problems by reducing CO2 emissions! i will trade in my Japanese oil guzzler with this one.
12:46 July 15, 2011 by Lachner
@ freechoice - I completely agree. I think that most consumers in Europe and North America are concerned with the environment, but they are not willing to spend more than on a regular car for an eco-friendly car like the Pryus or Volt or drive in a tuna can like the Smart. We need to have an affordable and decent electric car.
14:22 July 15, 2011 by Englishted

Why you have exported all the job ,who will be able to buy one anyway ?.
15:35 July 15, 2011 by DrStrangelove
Wage costs for assembly are most likely not going to be the deciding cost factor here. Instead, it's going to be the light-weight materials and the batteries.
17:27 July 15, 2011 by Englishted
Sorry it should have said :


When you have exported all the jobs ,who will be able to buy one anyway ?.
18:46 July 15, 2011 by rfwilson
A car designed by "students and academics"?

Now doesn't THAT sound practical! They can't be serious!
22:14 July 16, 2011 by wenddiver
The rear cargo areas door looks nice, but would, be a real pain to rearward visibility.

A large Square door would improve visibility and make it easier to load cargo. The large tabs at the edge of the trunk would make older people and the disabled have to lift their packages/luggage over them.

I would like to see somebody build an electric small car that would be efficient, , luxurious and high tech and call it the Super Trabi!! It would be everything a Trabant wasn't and show the World what an Eco friendly West can do.
09:34 July 17, 2011 by wood artist
Another issue, which they don't directly discuss, would be the development (which is happening already) of car-to-car communication that would prevent accidents. Were that to happen, we could make significant weight reductions by eliminating some of the structures that are now there simply to provide crumple zones for high-speed collisions.

If that technology were perfected, cars could easily be made much lighter, and regardless of the propulsion system, weight loss equals lower prices to buy and lower prices to operate.

10:00 July 17, 2011 by heyheyhey
@Lachner. The last time I drove to work I passed a dozen Prius vehicles. There was no other vehicle in that quantity that I passed. You are entitled to your opinions but you sure have alot of erroneous ones.
20:22 July 19, 2011 by skipwkk
referring to #6 The big tree auto makers haven't done anything really innovating in the last 50 years (that is anything they stayed with). so why couldn't some "students and academics"come up with some better and unique directions.
02:44 July 20, 2011 by wenddiver
@skipwkk- Detroit has made some amazing vehicles lately, but the US government tends to buy them up. The world high milage champfor a mid-size Sedan according to the Guiness book of world records is the Hybred Ford Fussion. If that was a foreign car company achieving that it would be on the cover of every pamplet they make. Ford ran the test right up to the steps of the US Capital, sold the Government a bunch of cars and then did nothing after claiming the record. What the !@#$ !

They sold the Government a whole bunch of Hybred Edge SUVs and they stuck them on outside patrol at the Federal Bureau of Prisons and left them driving in circles.

Both vehicles which hold a lot, get better mileae than the Mercedes-Benz Smart car.
16:23 July 24, 2011 by nadom
Wow 100km and then recharge. How long to recharge. I prefer to drive my gas guzzler which I can drive over 500km without refueling. It take me about 12 hours to drive from my home to Dallas with 2 refueling stops. Just how long would it take me to get there if I had to stop at least 10 times to rechage. No thanks keep the mute that does not speak or get you anywhere.
11:45 July 25, 2011 by berfel
The report is somewhat misleading.

I checked the TUM web site. First, the mass of the EMPTY vehicle is 400kg. There's 100kg to add before it'll move and then you have to 80kg for the dummy to operate the vehicle before it matches the specifications of other vehicle on the road.

There are very many older vehicles licenced under the same restrictions "L7e" ; limited to no more than 400kg empty and 15kW. The 400kg version of the MU+E is unable to move by itself (because it's got no battery like that). So I have no idea how they managed to get approval for L7e.

Here's a bunch:


Spiegel reports http://www.spiegel.de/video/video-1138064.html the mass of the vehicle at 500kg. And "researchers say the Mute showed outstanding driving dynamics during its test run" should be viewed as a subjective evaluation based upon a body-less chassis prototype running on a smooth track.

Listen to the statements of the person being interviewed and think about the assumptions and caveats. Don't let false hopes disappoint you.
03:11 August 2, 2011 by Anumakonda
Electric Cars are the future mode of transportation. The main consideration in designing the electric cars is weight. Proposed 400 kg weight of the Electric Car by Researchers at the Technical University Munich (TUM) will be a major breakthrough in Electric Car design.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com
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