Terrestrial vehicles provide the major part of transport services. They are both a fundamental need of modern societies, as well as an economic necessity to satisfy the ever growing demand for transport. However, the economic benefit is accompanied by significant adverse effects. Increasing burdens on humans and the environment need to be counteracted. For this purpose, above all, the absolute energy consumption of vehicles has to be reduced and harmful emissions, such as CO2 and noise, have to be avoided. The safety and comfort of drivers and passengers have to be raised. And the networking of vehicles with urban and interurban infrastructures and energy supplies are to be established. We work on corresponding solutions for road and rail vehicles and use the mutual synergies that arise.
In the research topic on the Next Generation Car (NGC), we develop a holistic vehicle concept oriented towards the road vehicle market in 2025. To derive concrete research objectives, we initially made some fundamental decisions. Thus, our concept includes the differentiation between two vehicles: The NGC Urban for intra-urban operation and the NGC Interurban for long distance use. Both vehicles share the orientation towards the European market, a large number of identical parts and components, a body shell based on multi-material design, drive-by-wire and a planned production rate of around 50,000 units per year. However, while the core characteristics of the NGC Urban are a local emission-free range of 200 kilometers with a purely battery-electrical drive, 2+2 seats and a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour, we are setting different standards for the NGC Interurban. Here, the aim is to allow for a local emission-free trip of 80 kilometers, but to attain a total range of 1,000 kilometers due to an integrated range extender. The NGT Interurban will offer five seats and a maximum speed of 180 kilometers per hour.
In order to explore the complex issues associated with this approach, we pool our activities in six research areas: vehicle concepts, vehicle structure, drive train, thermal management, vehicle intelligence, and chassis. We develop concepts with flexible drives and modular packages, reduce the vehicle weight and, at the same time, increase passive safety, improve electrical efficiency, material utilization, as well as costs, and explore an innovative thermal management for heating, air-conditioning, and energy storage. Moreover, we work on a systemically-oriented approach towards an intelligent vehicle and a modular, mechatronic highly-integrated chassis, in order to be able to realize our vision of a Next Generation Car.
We have been conducting research on the Next Generation Train (NGT) since 2007. Under the acronym NGT HGV, the development of an electrically-driven, double-decker ultra high-speed train so far has been in the focus of our work. The results already available, comprise an abundance of important findings. However, they have also led to a number of further-reaching questions, which we want to address now. These include, inter alia, a more intensive preoccupation with cross-wind stability, a detailed risk assessment, the search for an ideal component conception for our single wheel-single running gear, the expansion of our computational competence by dynamic load cases for the lightweight carriage structure and the study of catenary-free operation and its technical development for speeds up to 500 kilometers per hour.
We have already successfully transferred our conceptional ideas and previous working results onto concepts for the high-speed feeder passenger train NGT LINK and on the ultra high-speed cargo train NGT CARGO. For the NGT LINK, we are mainly interested in a flexible, demand-dependent configuration through dynamic coupling as well as
the design and operation of a hybrid drive system for catenary-free electrified, conventionally electrified, and non-electrified rail lines. To support the political effort of shifting more goods traffic onto the rails, we work on the NGT CARGO, a fast, mixed-traffic capable cargo train. Its individual wagons will be autonomously operational via remote control, so that the marshaling no longer needs any shunting locomotives. Further examples for the innovative characteristics of the NGT CARGO target at energy-efficient operation: The train will make use of coasting, which calls for support to the train driver through a suitable assistance system. Moreover, it will be stopped just by regenerative braking of the electric motors.