Electric Vehicle Conversion

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Group Design Project
The conversion of a conventionally powered all-terrain vehicle (ATV), co-owned by the Science Park and Chilworth Conservation Ltd, to run on electric power
Group Members
Hong Ye Chew, Wei Yang Alvin Lau, Chris Mansbridge,Nikesh Patel, Miguel Angel Plaza Molina, Yik Tsun Shiu, Yew Jin Toh, Mikas Urbsas

Supervisors
Professor Suleiman Sharkh, Professor Roberto Lot

Supporters
REAPsystems, University of Southampton Science Park, Chilworth Conservation Limited

An approach to converting a conventional all-wheel drive ATV to run solely on electric power has been planned and executed. The project team worked closely with REAPsystems, a global innovator in custom lithium-ion battery solutions; aiming to demonstrate the effectiveness of an electric drivetrain for use in typical ATV drive cycles. The donor vehicle was obtained from Chilworth Conservation Area and University Science Park, where it is used regularly in an environmentally sensitive area on difficult terrain. Noise and air pollution from the original vehicle, as well as unreliable operation, were considered to be significant drawbacks and provided motivation for a cleaner, quieter alternative.

Due to the regular use of the ATV, only a short window was available to carry out the conversion. The performance of the batteries and motor were modelled to simulate the performance of the vehicle, whilst further simulation was carried out to estimate stresses that would be seen in the new components under cyclic loading. Innovative features such as the use of an inverter and regenerative braking were investigated, however these were not adopted due to poor cost-effectiveness. After the design phase, bench testing was carried out to validate the performance of the batteries and motor, this allowed for debugging of the electrical circuit and testing of the torque available at a pre-defined current draw. This was followed by installation onto the vehicle and physical testing on Highfield Campus and Chilworth Conservation Area itself. The net increase in mass was limited to only 9kg, helping the vehicle to achieve its performance targets.

An emphasis was placed on taking a professional approach to ensure that the team was able to deliver a quality, functional and safe product which would satisfy the needs of the stakeholders within budget and time constraints. The public relations (PR) campaign also showed promising signs of success as a number of local farmers as well as PR officials from SETsquared and the University’s Press Office have shown interest in the project.

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