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Siemens is combining its many years of experience in energy, mobility, and IT to pioneer a new era of electromobility.
Quiet, clean, sustainable – these are characteristics people usually do not associate with conventional automobile travel with its CO2 emissions, dependency on limited petroleum reserves, and clogged highways. But these positive attributes are exactly what sets electromobility apart.
Electric cars and vehicles have low emissions and can become integral parts of a smart grid, where they do not just consume power, but also provide mobile storage of energy acquired during periods of high electricity generation from renewable sources, high winds or sunshine. In times of high demand, they can feed electricity back into the grid. Therefore, electromobility’s greatest potential for climate protection is the interaction with renewable energies and sustainable mobility.
This is not just a dream for the future. Plans exist for a million electric vehicles to be on the road in the U.S. by 2015. The pioneer cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose CA will be able to pass their experience on to other urban areas. Propelled by government investment exceeding $140 billion, the U.S. plans to take the lead in electromobility.
The demand for innovative technologies is increasing. As an integrated technology company and a pioneer in electric technology for over 160 years, Siemens already offers an entire range of products and solutions for the electromobile future – including smart grids, charging infrastructures, components for electric cars and a complete, coordinated software portfolio.
One million plug-in hybrid vehicles on America's roads by 2015 – what seemed utopian just a few years ago is now President Obama’s stated goal. The world’s rising demand for energy, limited oil resources as well as stricter environmental and climate protection regulations are causing us to rethink our driving habits in order to achieve sustainable transportation and energy efficiency. Electric vehicles, powered largely by electricity generated from renewable sources of energy, meet these objectives extremely well. Electric vehicles are destined to eventually conquer the last great bastion of conventional fuel consumption – road traffic.
Particularly in cities, quiet, emission-free electric vehicles are ideal green transport solutions. Public urban transportation, such as trams and trolleybuses, has been part of our lives for many decades. Electric cars and vehicles are the only forms of transportation that provide a clean solution for individual mobility. Electric cars, electric bicycles, and electric scooters are therefore gaining in popularity. For electric cars to make a real breakthrough, the automotive and electrical industries will have to come together and jointly create the necessary infrastructure for electromobility.
Siemens started writing the book on the electric car in 1905, when it produced about 50 “Electric Viktoria” cars, which were used in everyday traffic as elegant hotel taxis and delivery trucks. They moved at a speed of up to 30 km/h, traveling about 80 km on one battery charge.
Today, Siemens is again a pioneer in electromobility. Though Siemens does not produce electric cars, it has established a separate business unit that develops key components for the drive train of electrically powered cars and light commercial vehicles. The portfolio includes electric motors, power electronics, and smart on-board charging technology.
Siemens researchers are also working together with the German company RUF Automobile GmbH on innovative concepts for the high-end car market. They are building ten test electric cars based on the Porsche 911, focusing on modular drive trains and intelligent charging. Findings from field testing will be used to further improve the entire vehicle and sustainable mobility.
Since the invention of the electric motor about 175 years ago, electric drives have successfully penetrated all sectors of industry. The wide range of applications has resulted in many different types of designs. In a battery-powered electric car, the drive generally consists of an electric motor, inverter, battery, and charging device. The individual components interact as follows. The vehicle is propelled directly by the electric motor. For this to happen, the motor must be fed with alternating current, which is supplied by the inverter. The inverter converts the direct current from the battery to alternating current. The inverter also regulates the vehicle’s speed by increasing the rotational speed of the motor as soon as the driver steps on the accelerator.
In contrast to combustion engines, electric drives reach their full torque even at low rotational speeds, delivering immediate forward motion, high acceleration, and thus great driving pleasure. Another key advantage is that electric drives reconvert braking energy back into electrical energy – unlike combustion engines, where the braking energy is lost as heat. During this regenerative process, the motor serves as a generator, similar to a bicycle dynamo. The motor works as an electromotive brake while simultaneously feeding energy back into the battery. A final outstanding feature of electric motors is their high efficiency - they convert electrical energy nearly completely into kinetic energy.
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To achieve greater distances, people frequently use a hybrid drive, a combination of a combustion engine and an electric motor. Siemens is working on a serial hybrid solution for cars and commercial vehicles. Unlike the parallel hybrid, the serial hybrid is driven exclusively by the electric motor. The combustion engine only drives an electric generator that charges the battery. This serial hybrid configuration fully exploits all the advantages of a vehicle powered purely by electricity. Most notably, the electric motor is deliberately used as a brake. The motor works as a generator, converting the kinetic energy into electrical energy, and feeding this energy back into the battery.
The serial hybrid is ideal for city buses and delivery vehicles, which make frequent stops. Therefore, it is the key element of the Siemens ELFA drive system, which has already proven itself a thousand times over. City buses, which are constantly stopping and starting, consume about one-third less fuel with ELFA or about 10.000 liters of fuel over a total annual distance of 60,000 kilometers depending on the route. However, ELFA not only makes the buses more economical, but also quieter, because the revving of diesel engines upon acceleration is eliminated and the diesel engine operates at a more economical and quieter speed level. In the U.S., buses equipped with ELFA are in use in Las Vegas and other cities, enabling sustainable transportation.
Since 1879, Siemens has been a pioneer in electric drives and has helped electric machines achieve a breakthrough. Even today, systematically converting electricity to movement is still an art. Siemens engineers are making modern motors more powerful, more energy-efficient, and more flexible by integrating all individual components into one harmonized drive. More than 1.5 million electric motors leave the Siemens production facilities every year. On rails, roads, water, and even in the mountains, Siemens electric drives transport millions of people every day.
Electromobility and electric cars will only be able to develop further and hold their ground if they work hand-in-hand with a corresponding charging infrastructure. A dense network of charging stations that offer a safe method of transferring energy from grid to electric cars is therefore a basic requirement. Features include automated billing, station location and availability, charging status notifications and energy management as well as tracking capabilities.
Siemens is systematically moving ahead, developing safe solutions that make charging electric vehicles as simple as a visit to the gas station. Our line of EV charging stations includes solutions for residential, public and commercial applications. By incorporating connectivity options, metering capabilities and an open architecture, Siemens' EV charging stations can be integrated into the rapidly evolving Smart Grid.
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UL certification requirements for product safety play an important role in the American market. Therefore, Siemens is working to offer a special flexible alternating current AC charging point system with capacity up to 7.2 kW / 240 V. Depending on how and where it will be used, the system is offered as a charging pole or wall box. It is capable of exchanging data with an operation center via ZigBee, WiFi, or other wireless standards. Other features include real-time remote monitoring, firmware updates and optional communication modules.
For residential applications Siemens already offers a wall-mountable charging station. This wall box, a 7.2 kW single output station, is perfect for safe charging in a private environment – such as overnight in your own garage. VersiCharge EV charging stations offer residential users a new affordable access to charging. They are Level II stations, ready for 240 V service. The VersiCharge SG model has built in ZigBee wireless communications designed to work with modern smart meters, metering, and open standard communication port to work with other standards like WiFi.
Fast DC charging stations could be particularly advantageous in places where drivers park for just a short time like when shopping or eating at a restaurant. An alternative to fast charging is exchanging dead batteries for charged batteries at swapping stations. Since all electrical elements are housed within a closed process or system, the swapping procedure is safe, fast, and convenient.
Inductive charging would allow electric vehicles to be charged without a cable and charging point. A coil buried underground establishes the connection to the public energy grid. When drivers start the charging process, a magnetic field induces electrical current. This induced current charges the electric vehicle’s battery. The charging stations can be integrated virtually invisibly into any environment.
Backed by many years of experience in the areas of energy supply, grid infrastructure, IT, and electric drives, Siemens has long focused on the challenge of mobility of the future. The company’s portfolio of highly developed and compatible system components and services for electromobility is accordingly extensive – both for the infrastructure and the vehicles themselves. Siemens not only offers individual solutions, the company can also combine individual solutions into one viable complete solution.
The infrastructure installations from Siemens cover a wide variety of charging scenarios. The use of proven switching and protection devices ensures safe processes and automated communication. Quick charging stations, DC charging stations, battery swapping facilities, and the necessary measurement techniques are just as much a part of the offering as grid planning services. The components are customized specifically for electromobility and ensure compliance with new standards. This means that the necessary infrastructure behind the charging stations can be expanded intelligently. Energy management solutions regulate charging processes, the availability of charging stations in the smart grid, and more.
The interaction of previously separated subsystems in vehicles, road infrastructure, and traffic control centers can soon become a reality. Smart electric car software can expand Car2X communication as the communications technology of the electromobility infrastructure expands. In Car2X communication, cars communicate either with other vehicles (Car2Car) or with the traffic infrastructure (Car2Infrastructure). Car2X turns cars into mobile sensors for traffic control systems. This means that the control system determines the existence and extent of traffic jams from the location and speed of the networked cars. As a result, the system can make better recommendations for detours. Traffic will flow more safely and smoothly, as data on traffic volume, road conditions and traffic light switching times is exchanged.