Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular than ever, thanks to their environmental benefits, lower maintenance costs, and tax incentives. However, one aspect of EVs that often gets overlooked is their suspension system.
Suspension is the part of the vehicle that connects the wheels to the body and absorbs the shocks and vibrations from the road. A good suspension system can improve a vehicle's ride quality, handling, stability, and safety.
But what makes EV suspension different from conventional suspension? And why is it a game-changer for the future of mobility? In this article, we will explore the unique features and advantages of EV suspension and how it can enhance the comfort and performance of electric vehicles.
EV Suspension: What Makes It Different?
The main difference between EVs and conventional suspensions is that EVs have a different weight distribution and center of gravity.
EVs are heavier than conventional vehicles because of their battery packs, usually located under the floor or in the rear of the vehicle. This means that EVs have more weight on the rear axle and lower to the ground.
This affects the suspension design and tuning, as it requires more stiffness and damping to support the extra weight and prevent body roll. It also means that EVs have less unsprung mass, which is the weight of the components that are not supported by the suspension, such as the wheels, brakes, and axles.
Unsprung mass affects the responsiveness and agility of a vehicle, as it influences how quickly the suspension can react to road irregularities. The lower the unsprung mass, the better the ride quality and handling.
Another difference between EV suspension and conventional suspension is that EVs have more space and flexibility to incorporate advanced suspension technologies. Since EVs do not have an internal combustion engine or a transmission system, they can use this extra space to install innovative suspension components that can improve their efficiency and performance.
EV Suspension: What Are The Benefits?
One of the main benefits of EV suspension is that it can help extend the range of electric vehicles. Range anxiety is one of the biggest challenges EVs face, as they need to go farther on less power to be viable for most people.
One way to overcome this challenge is to use regenerative braking, which recovers some of the kinetic energy that would otherwise be wasted as heat when braking. However, regenerative braking alone is not enough to make a significant difference in range.
Another way to increase range is to use regenerative suspension, which recovers energy through the car’s shock absorbers. This technology converts some of the kinetic energy from the vertical suspension movement into electricity, which can then be stored in the battery or used to power other systems.
Regenerative suspension can increase range by up to 50 percent, depending on the road conditions and driving style. For example, a study by Stony Brook University showed that a regenerative suspension system could recover 100 to 400 watts of vibration energy from a passenger car traveling at 100 km/h. Another study by Audi showed that a similar system could generate 100 to 150 watts on an average road.
Regenerative suspension is beneficial for range, ride quality, and handling. By adjusting the stiffness and damping of the shock absorbers according to the road conditions and driving preferences, regenerative suspension can provide optimal comfort and performance for different scenarios.
For instance, regenerative suspension can reduce body roll when cornering, improve braking or accelerating stability, and smooth out bumps and potholes when driving on rough roads. Regenerative suspension can also reduce noise and vibration inside the cabin, creating a more pleasant driving experience.
Another benefit of EV suspension is that it can enable new design possibilities for electric vehicles. By integrating suspension, motors, braking, and steering into a single system within the wheel itself, EVs can achieve higher control and performance.
This technology, known as in-wheel motor or wheel hub motor, eliminates the need for many mechanical components such as axles, differentials, driveshafts, gearboxes, clutches, etc. This reduces weight, complexity, maintenance costs, and energy losses.
The in-wheel motor also allows for more flexibility in vehicle design, as it frees up space in the chassis and body. This space can be used for more passenger or cargo room, larger battery packs, or other features. The in-wheel motor also enables independent control of each wheel, improving traction, stability, maneuverability, and safety.
For example, an Israeli startup called REE Automotive has developed a skateboard-like platform that houses all of these systems in each wheel. This platform can serve as the basis for various EVs, from sedans and SUVs to delivery vans and trucks. By consolidating everything into one modular platform, REE Automotive aims to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and accelerate the production of EVs.
EV Suspension: Why Is It a Game-Changer?
EV suspension is a game-changer because it can transform the way we think about and use electric vehicles. By improving range, efficiency, comfort, performance, and design, EV suspension can make electric vehicles more attractive and competitive in the market.
Electric vehicle suspension can also pave the way for more innovation and creativity in the automotive industry. By exploring new technologies and solutions, EV suspension can challenge the conventional norms and expectations of what a vehicle can do and be.
Electric vehicle suspension is not just a technical improvement but a paradigm shift. It reflects how EVs are changing transportation and mobility for the better. EV suspension is the power of comfort, and comfort is the power of EVs.