The world’s first electric taxi designed specifically for cities with a predominantly hot climate has been unveiled in Singapore.
The EVA taxi, jointly developed by Nanyang Technological University Singapore (NTU) and Germany’s Technical University Munich, is made of light-weight carbon-fibre composite materials and equipped with an energy-efficient air-conditioning system to minimise the car’s carbon footprint.
150kg lighter than a conventional taxi of a similar size, the vehicle offers a 200km driving range and can be fully charged within only 15 minutes using wireless technology.
“We had identified electro-mobility as one of the solutions necessary to tackle climate change,” said NTU’s Professor Bertil Andersson. “Our success in building an electric car for the tropics is a big step forward in realising our vision for a more sustainable future for everyone.”
The car is equipped with ergonomically designed seats, featuring an integrated system that sucks away moisture and heat from the seat’s surfaces for better passenger comfort.
The climate controls, in-car entertainment, booking and digital payment systems are linked via the car’s infotainment system, allowing passengers to control air-conditioning and audio settings wirelessly from their personal mobile devices.
“Due to the hot and humid weather in the tropics, a significant amount of energy is consumed by the air conditioning system in automobiles,” said Professor Lam Khin Yong, NTU’s Vice President for Research.
“The innovative energy-efficient air-conditioning solutions deployed in EVA, like its new energy-efficient compressor technologies, can be adopted in both current and future vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint.”
In Singapore, taxis are responsible for up to 15 per cent of the total distance travelled by vehicles, despite representing less than three per cent of the overall vehicle fleet. Thus, taxis are responsible for a higher proportion of the overall carbon emissions.
The team behind the project believes that by replacing fuel-burning vehicles with electric-powered ones, carbon emissions as well as local noise and exhaust emissions can be reduced.
The EVA taxi is the first car to have been completely manufactured in Singapore. The development and construction took four years and involved 40 researchers from 20 countries.
“While Singapore is not an automotive manufacturing country, the nation’s economy will definitely benefit in the long run through technology transfer,” Professor Andersson explained. “We are now among the leaders in electro-mobility systems and will be able to offer our knowledge and services to the automotive industries in this region.”
The NTU's previously developed ecosystem of public and private transportation with public and shuttle buses, private cars, bicycles and prototype autonomous vehicles will provide an ideal test bed for the EVA taxi.
In the next four years, the researchers will test the vehicle at the university’s campus, which is set to become Singapore’s national test bed for smart mobility solutions.
“Now that we have proven that it is possible to design vehicles for specific purposes of public transport, it has opened up new questions for us to explore - mainly how purpose-built electric vehicles would fit into the whole transport eco-system together with the trains and buses and how these solutions can reduce travelling times and energy usage used for transportation,” said Professor Markus Lienkamp from the Technical University Munich.
The team believes the innovations developed as part of the EVA project, including the lightweight carbon-fibre composites and the energy efficient air-conditioning system, will soon find their way in to other sectors.