All posts by V-Electric

Velopetta drive train

The major components that make up the drive train for the Velopetta have been decided. Take a look at the three main parts below.

Motor

Brose

The Brose ebike motor(36V, 250W) was selected because of two very specific features:

  1. Best-in-class power output of 90Nm of torque
  2. Super-quiet operation

The Velopetta will be heavier than a standard ebike.  Being more like a micro-car than a bicycle, it carries the additional weight of the body shell and larger seat. The powerful Brose motor offsets the effect of this weight so that the driver doesn’t have to pedal harder than they would on a standard ebike.  The Brose output of 90Nm of torque is 20% higher than Bosch’s top model, the Performance Line CX, which can output a maximum 75Nm of torque.

The Brose uses a very quiet belt drive internally. Most competitors use a system of gears, which generate more noise. Unlike a standard ebike, any motor noise within the Velopetta reverberates within the body shell. Having the quietest in the market (according to Brose) is ideal.

The prototype will use Brose’s 45km/h capable unit. Customers will have the option of a 25km/h version as well.

Battery

BMZ

An advantage of the Brose motor is that it is not tied to a specific battery or even battery manufacturer. The manufacturer is free to choose a battery and display system that suits their requirements.

The motor In the Velopetta will be paired with a 36V BMZ 14Ah Li-ion battery unit, though this will be upgraded to a larger capacity unit for production.

A couple of neat features of BMZ batteries are the magnetic charging plug and the ability to charge the battery on or off the vehicle.

Transmission

NuVinci N380

The NuVinci N380 is a type of internally geared hub. Unlike other internally geared hubs which have discrete gears, NuVinci make continuously variable transmission (CVT) hubs. A CVT has no gears, but instead can be smoothly set to any gear ratio within it’s range.

The N380 has a gear ratio range of 380%, from 0.5 underdrive to 1.9 overdrive.

The Velopetta will make use of the Harmony automatic shifting system. The driver can switch between automatic and manual transmission at the press of a button. In manual mode, twisting the grip shift will change the gear ratio, but in automatic mode the grip shift sets the preferred pedal cadence. The Harmony controller then changes the gear ratio automatically to maintain the preferred cadence.

Callaghan Innovation grant awarded

A bit of excitement to start the new year: V-Electric has been awarded a New Zealand government R&D grant by Callaghan Innovation! This now kicks off an extensive research and development program to further many aspects of the Velopetta. Keep an eye out for news as the project progresses over the next several months.

A bit about Callaghan Innovation:

Our purpose is to help New Zealand businesses succeed through technology. We provide a single front door to the innovation system for businesses at all stages of their innovation journey – from start-ups to the most experienced R&D performers.

Velopetta design renders

Here are some quick rendered views of the now almost complete Velopetta design. The windscreen riser is still missing, and the soft-top is still to come.

The timber hoop behind the driver acts as a roll bar, but will also facilitate the attachment of the soft-top.

Both front and rear lights have been added. The front lights will include both low and high beam, and indicators, in the same unit. Efficient LED bulbs, of course.  A pull handle has also been added – especially useful because the Velopetta does not have reverse. A target weight of 45kg means pulling or even lifting the rear of the vehicle shouldn’t be difficult.

Although there is actually a huge amount of internal storage (both in the front and the rear) a luggage rack has been added.  The rack is a stylish combination of timber and aluminium, and will allow suitcases, boxes or the obligatory picnic basket for the promo shots to be attached with cords or tie downs.

The first few images show the vehicle painted white, which very nicely offsets the darker timber.

In reality it is unlikely that the prototype will be painted, so the last render shows more like how it would look in its natural carbon fibre finish.

Velopetta painted white - 3/4 rear view

Velopetta painted white - 3/4 front view

Velopetta painted white - side with door open

Velopetta in unpainted carbon fibre

Velopetta progress

The design for the Velopetta prototype has progressed quickly during the past few months.

Velopetta design from front showing hidden lines
Velopetta design from front showing hidden lines
Velopetta design from rear showing hidden lines
Velopetta design from rear showing hidden lines

The chassis design is based almost exclusively on rectangular aluminium section, with minimum number of joins for strength and simplicity. Once the prototype is complete and testing starts, parts will need to be redesigned and replaced as they fail or are improved. The focus of the first phase will be functionality, strength and safety, and the second phase will be weight reduction and finish.

We’ve been working with a highly experienced local composites company, fibreglass developments, who will create the moulds and the carbon fibre body shells. They are helping ensure the body shape can be easily pulled from moulds with no undercuts that will prevent the part from releasing.

The body will be moulded in two halves, with each half requiring a two-piece mould (also called a multi-part or split-mould). The two halves will be joined with a ‘racing strip’ of formed laminated timber. More timber parts will be used as framing to reinforce areas of the body, such as around the sill and door opening, both for strength and look.

The biggest piece of design work remaining, that is actually causing a few headaches, is the soft-top design. It’s proving difficult to get a design that both looks good and provides enough clearance for tall drivers!

Here are some more images of the current design. Note that this is a work in progress and may still change before construction, but is pretty close to final.

Velopetta design from front
Velopetta design from front
Velopetta design from front with cutaway
Velopetta design from front with cutaway
Velopetta chassis from front
Velopetta chassis from front
Velopetta design from rear
Velopetta design from rear
Velopetta design from rear with cutaway
Velopetta design from rear with cutaway
Velopetta chassis from rear
Velopetta chassis from rear

 

Introducing Velopetta

After the difficulty faced in trying to get the v2 certified for road use (which meant legally registering as a moped), we started to rethink the concept.

Our vision is to create hand-built artisan electric vehicles, with attention to detail, quality materials, and with style – with soul. Whichever direction we go, this won’t change.

But did we want to start again and build another prototype from heavier, motor-vehicle approved parts in order to comply with legal requirements? If we passed in New Zealand, would we be guaranteed of passing in others? USA? Europe?

Other questions also emerged – especially after many hours of riding and commuting in all sorts of weather. Could we achieve better weather protection? Could we make cycle commuting more comfortable and even more enjoyable?

Researching the answers to those questions led to the next evolution of the V-Electric vehicle –

Introducing the Velopetta.

A micro-car style, electric-assisted pedal vehicle, legally classified as a bicycle in most countries around the world.

Micro-car history aficionado’s will immediately notice the resemblance of the Velopetta name with that of the infamous 1956 Brütsch Mopetta.

1956 Brütsch Mopetta

Only a total of 14 of these tiny vehicles were ever produced, and of these only 5 are known to still survive. This resemblance is no accident. The 50cc Mopetta is a major inspiration for the overall design of the Velopetta.

We have now begun to develop our first Velopetta prototype. What we hope to achieve with the Velopetta is:

  • No need for registration as moped, or a drivers licence
  • Light-weight enclosed body with windshield and soft-top
  • Electric-assisted pedal drive, with differential and disc brakes
  • 4 wheels with 4″ wide fat-bike tyres for stability and comfort
  • Leather interior, comfortable adjustable leather seat
  • Beautiful New Zealand native timber trim and dash
  • Decent luggage space, and a bicycle trailer hitch

 

The V2 prototype

Our plan was for the production model of our v1 protoype to be sold as a road-legal scooter (or moped), so the next hurdle was to try to get the prototype certified.

To meet moped certification in New Zealand, all the v1 needed was an auxiliary electrical system with indicators, front lights, brake lights and a horn. Oh, and a rear-view mirror. Or so we thought.

Several improvements were also planned based on the many hours of riding over the past year.  It was time for v2 (V-Electric #2).

Rather than start from scratch, v1 was taken apart and modified.  This included:

  • A lowered seating position
  • A more comfortable seat and leather battery box front
  • Improved foot room
  • A more classic overall design
  • Larger handlebar movement range (for tighter turning)
  • Mudguards
  • Redesigned battery/electrics compartment (under hinged seat)
  • Front and rear lights, indicators, brake lights and horn

Here is a photo of the v2 with most of the improvements in place. Under that you can see the original v1 for comparison. The designs may be different, but we’re still using the same handy beer crate supports 😉

v2 on blocks

IMG_1983

Unfortunately the initial attempt to certify the scooter was not successful. Because the basic componentry is fundamentally from a bicycle, it is not rated for motor-vehicle use and, we were told, would never pass safety standards, even for a moped.

It would be too big of a job to modify the v2 to legal moped class.  In order to comply we need to build another prototype from the ground up based on approved motor vehicle parts.

Watch this space.

The V1 prototype

The prototype has been dubbed the “v1” (V-Electric #1).

The v1 was never intended to be the production scooter – it wasn’t even intended to look like the final product. It was simply an experiment in construction techniques, and a first attempt at a minimalistic scooter design.

The shape was penned as one continuous line, from fairing to seat, that could be made from a single standard sheet (2440mm) with no joins. A form was constructed from MDF (medium density fiberboard), and then several layers of different timber were glued and clamped around it to create the basic laminated shape.

All the electrics were housed in a single ‘battery box’ in stacked compartments. The box housed the battery, the controller, and even the battery charger. The box was topped by a simple hand-stitched leather and foam seat. A single socket in the back of the box allows a power cord to be attached for charging.

Battery box placement

IMG_1983

As a prototype, the v1 was very successful. It proved that the combination of materials worked and added an element of sophistication, that such a machine was practical and fun, and that there was still a lot more work to be done!

Key statistics

  • Weight: 20kg
  • Speed: 45km/h
  • Range: 60km (@ 25 km/h)
  • Charge: 8hrs (@ $0.20 total)
  • Motor: 48v, 1000W hub
  • Battery: 48v, 20AH (960 WH)
  • Frame: Powdercoated steel (ex-step scooter)
  • Body: 4-layer lamination of birch ply with a bendy ply core

peter_with_scooter_1a

V-Electric supreme winner

We are very proud to announce that V-Electric was the supreme winner of the 2012 Manawatu Innovate awards last night! The Innovate awards are an annual local business innovation competition where competitors spend 10 weeks refining their business plans before pitching to a panel of judges, dragon’s den style.

The full story is available here.

Mr Vullings outside the old Palmerston North Electric Power Station. Published with permission of North & South magazine.
Mr Vullings outside the old Palmerston North Electric Power Station. Published with permission of North & South magazine.