e-Traction uses Model Based Design to optimize its in-wheel motor-based powertrains

Electric powertrains for commercial vehicles, such as city buses and trucks, find themselves in great interest, due to environmental issues. As e-Traction, we developed the TheWheel, our own invention based on the in-wheel motor principle. In the past years, this design has evolved into a robust drive axle suitable for different kinds of vehicles and purposes. For further development of this drive, we use the “Model Based Design” approach. With this method we are able to approach complex models virtually and generate software code automatically. It leads to better designs in a shorter period of time, also because of the flexibility in the used development process.

We build a model of the reality, a so called “plant”, we want to test in the virtual surrounding. We also model the functions necessary to be built into the software, and then these two are tested against each other in the virtual environment. Errors can therefore easily and quickly be recognized and, importantly, it becomes clear at an early stage whether the idea behind the software can lead to the desired results. For the realization of the “plant”, we not only use scientific literature but also our own data generated by our test vehicles. Data that form the basis for the computer models that we build via “Model Based Design”.

This method not only improves our products, it also enables us as e-Traction to honour specific wishes of our customers at a reasonable cost level. Our computer models make it possible to adjust the software of the drive axle in such a way that the bus or truck in a specific region performs optimally. Software that, in the PCM (Powertrain Control Module), the brain of the system, controls the coordination and tuning between the different components, such as the accelerator pedal giving the correct signal how much torque the two in-wheel motors need at that moment in time. These are complex software calculations that can be made fairly accurately in this virtual environment via “Model Based Design”. We can easily adapt to different loads of the vehicle, different tyres and different environmental applications. This methodology resulted in significantly improved control of the in-wheel motor parts and has led to the introduction of TheMotion 2.0 system at the 2018 Commercial Vehicle Show IAA.

“Model Based Design” saves development costs. The various stages in the development process, the inventing, take place in the virtual environment on the PC, so that expensive practical tests can be partially avoided. Within e-Traction we approach “Model Based Design” in a process-based manner and in various stages. Each stage is a step higher and our software engineers follow these steps during the entire project. From testing out on the streets with our test vehicles followed by the various development stages behind the PC, from component to product and then the final result. e-Traction is strongly practice-oriented which means that using Model Based Design our automotive experts are directly involved in the realization of the intended functions which are automatically generated by the software code based on our specific data. Software engineers and automotive experts are working together using their knowledge and experience to provide input to get the best final result: “Best of both worlds”.

If the software is validated and ready to be installed in the product, the implementation can be done by an update of the “control unit”, the PCM, or in the software of the inverters. This flexible working method offers employees who work on the product from ‘start to finish’, a dynamic working environment where they can function optimally and fully utilize their ‘skills’, of course within the framework of the project. Freedom and flexibility to obtain original solutions required for and by our customers for the best result!

As a Dutch development company, we are a part of the Chinese automotive manufacturer Evergrande, which uses e-Traction’s products and capabilities in its ambitious automotive growth activities. Evergrande allows and stimulates e-Traction to grow its sole businesses, being the EV drivetrain TheMotion 2.0, RetroMotion for the full retrofit from diesel to EV and TheDrive, High Power Inverters for special applications.