Hybrid & EV Sales Increase

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ September 2021 report showed sales increases of 104.9% and 87.9% (year-to-date change) for new plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric vehicles respectively and workshops are catching up with this trend, with training courses enabling technicians to safely work on these vehicles proving popular, with many dates fully booked months in advance. However, current estimates still highlight around only 6% of the workforce are EV qualified.

A YouGov study of 1,731 UK drivers commissioned by The Motor Ombudsman reveals that six in ten respondents would consider getting behind the wheel of an electric car if they were to purchase a new or used vehicle in 2022, with 39% of citing the fact that a decision to go electric was due to the rising cost of fuel. MD Bill Fennell, comments: “As our study has shown, electric vehicles are fast becoming a leading choice for motorists when buying a car, thanks in part to the growing charging network and the greater choice of models now on the market. However, current events, such as the rising cost of petrol and diesel at the pumps, the unavailability of fuel, as well as the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in the London area, are clearly front of mind for consumers, and are playing their part in the decision regarding what type of car to get next.”

Over the next few pages, we look at the latest offerings from parts and training suppliers to support the growing opportunity that hybrid and EV repair presents…

EV Parts

Parts for an EV can differ to their ICE cousins.

Be wary of ‘identical’ ICE and EV components…

Peter Wallace, Comline Auto Parts’ Group Senior Business Line/Product Manager, tells autotechnician that technicians need to be cautious when fitting EV steering & suspension components. While developing its steering & suspension catalogue, Peter has noticed scenarios where parts for an EV are different to their internal combustion engine cousins; for example, on an electric Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa-F, the original anti-roll bar link is lighter than the one fitted to models with an ICE.

Peter explained: “My gut instinct is that these parts have been made lighter to compensate for the additional battery weight. The issue, though, is that these components will look identical to the original specification but will comprise of subtle rotational or dimensional differences; therefore, if fitted, those components will cause some issues when the vehicle is being driven, such as veering left-to-right (yaw ratio) and vice-versa.

“What’s more, sticking with the same vehicle layout, the orientation of the bush in the lower wishbone arms are different on the electric version, which will allow for similar comfort as the ICE version when going over bumps – again, due to weight. The same applies to the ball joint, which has a different articulation angle and mounting face to pinch bolt height. These are things that technicians need to be aware of and why Comline’s cataloguing needs to be accurate and up- to-date.”

Peter believes this trend is a result of VMs changing their approach when developing parts for their vehicles. “When the Nissan Leaf (2010-2017) was launched, it was equipped with components from models within Nissan’s existing range, such as arms, links, ball joints and track rod ends off a Nissan Juke (2010-onwards); however, because of scenarios like the one identified above, VMs are having to change tact.

“The Tesla Model 3, Audi e-tron and Volkswagen ID.3 are all examples where every part is new, so VMs are spending significant amounts of time and resources in developing new parts. As a result, technicians need to be careful and may need to adapt their fitting techniques because it’s not just ‘another vehicle’; it’s a heavier vehicle and boasts different characteristics, wear and tear.”

Comline is set to launch 50 parts that will only fit EV vehicles over the next three-to-six months. www.comline.uk.com/products/steering-suspension.

High-voltage e-learning course…

The MEYLE Academy has a wide range of free to access digital training courses, including an e-learning course on high-voltage vehicles.

Participants receive a certificate after successful participation and passing of the final exam. This certificate is based on the German DGUV regulations and is mandatory there to work on high-voltage vehicles. MEYLE’s senior technical trainer Patrick Stüdemann stresses the relevance of the course for the international market: “The course content is not only highly relevant for all workshops in Germany but also across the globe, since the training covers all essential aspects, when dealing with a high-voltage vehicle.”

In addition to the relevant safety and health aspects, content includes the differences between the various drive topologies, legal matters as well as hazards and relevant first aid. www.meyle.com/en/trainings

Instant access to vital data…

Pro-Assist is a mobile app, designed by training providers Pro- Moto, providing access to critical and simplified information for technicians working on hybrid and electric vehicles.

Vehicle manufacturers all have a different way of presenting the relevant and critical information, Pro-Assist presents the different Hybrid, Electric, REV models currently across the UK and European markets in one intuitive format. Users can find the technical information required to correctly, and safely, work on these vehicles – from towing to safe shut-down procedures.

Download on the Apple Store or Google Play via https://m.appbuild.io/proassis

A new era for the electric motor…

Remanufacturer Carwood is evolving its offering to include capability for hybrid and electric vehicles. Here, they tell autotechnician about its upcoming specialist rewind business based down in Yeovil, that enables workshops to provide customers with a cost-effective electric motor repair.

Although electric motors have been used in automotive applications for well over a century, their adoption as one of the three main powertrain components in electric vehicles, effectively replacing the internal combustion engine, represents a significant technology leap. Whilst traditional motors typically consist of a stator, rotor and bearings, the latest generation of motors for electric vehicles are much more complex. Incorporating integrated gearboxes, sophisticated electronic control and hi-tech cooling systems, they are a completely different animal, and require an altogether different skill set to service them.

Faced with this reality, many garages shy away from any sort of work on the electric motor in hybrid and electric vehicles, choosing only to sell the motor, and not offer even a fitment service, let alone repair. As well as the unnecessary expense of a brand-new motor, this costs the vehicle owner additional time and hassle. Carwood has the necessary equipment and know-how needed to return the unit to its original condition, providing hybrid and EV owners with a much more cost- effective and convenient service option.

The company recently had a Renault Zoe come into its Coventry workshop, with a danger warning sign illuminated on the dashboard, indicating a high-voltage, electrical fault and rendering the vehicle undriveable. Having performed a series of advanced, on-vehicle diagnostic tests, and the prospect of a new replacement unit costing the customer upwards of £2,000, the motor was removed and sent to Yeovil for further testing. Here, the motor was stripped down and subjected to further diagnostic and test routines, developed in-house for the remanufacturing of electric vehicle motors. Although the motor was intended to be non-serviceable, Carwood has also developed special tools to both dismantle, and reassemble the motor assembly back to OE build specifications.

EV motor stator

An EV motor stator.

A stator fault, caused by an insulation failure on one of the slot linings, was subsequently identified, requiring a full rewind – an intricate process which took over 16 hours to complete by hand. To verify its electrical integrity, and confirm the fault had been fixed, the stator was retested on a static surge test. Once reassembled with new bearings, seals and brushes, the complete motor was then put on a dynamometer to replicate on-vehicle conditions, before being reinstalled into the customer’s car. With a motor now performing as good as new, and with a much lower bill, the customers were very satisfied. Carwood’s electric motor programme for hybrid and electric motors will be launched in early 2022. Email: electricvehicle@carwood.org

Causes of electric motor failure…

Carwood is seeing electric motor failures due to a variety of reasons. These include:

Evolving support…

Tapping into new trends, and preparing for them in advance, is essential for the long-term success of a workshop says Schaeffler, and it is working on solutions to support workshops moving forward. “We consider digitalisation to be an opportunity to support complex repair procedures on- site,” explains Jens Schüler, President GKAM, Global Sales & Marketing. REPXPERT provides workshops with appropriate special tools and repair support, not just via traditional channels like personal training and hotlines, but increasingly through digital formats such as virtual installation instructions and training sessions.

Schaeffler is also helping to ensure that independent workshops do not lose out on the opportunities offered by electric mobility, developing e-axles and hybrid modules for electric vehicle manufacturers.

Evolving components…

The impact of new technologies on the independent aftermarket (IAM) has had a big influence on the direction Nissens Automotive has taken. “We see two main technology impacts on the IAM currently – new e nergy vehicles (NEVs) and electrification of components,” says Nissens VP of Product & Technology, Jesper Petersen.

“We already have plans to be part of the development and preparation for upcoming NEVs. For electrification of components, emission norms and rigorous efficiency standards are forcing car manufacturers to provide vehicle systems with more intelligent parts. We must address this change as many components in the Nissens portfolio are currently experiencing an update, for example, our electrically actuated turbochargers, EGR valves, electric water pumps and electronically controlled fan/ blower assemblies.”

The company is now focusing on more active parts in its offerings across three major systems – air conditioning (AC), engine cooling (EC) and efficiency & emissions (EE) – by developing electricity-driven and software-controlled components. It currently provides almost 400 parts for the most popular hybrid and electric cars, for systems like AC, including heat pumps and compressors, as well as parts for the EC and EE systems, like EGR valves and turbo part upgrades.

Nissens’ electrical water pump – there will be more instances of cooling and HVAC systems where electrical components supersede traditionally powered components.

EV Masters Roadshow…

Our Virtual Academy has entered the world of face-to-face training and the first offering of OVA Live is its EV Masters Roadshow, developed in partnership with HEVRA.

Over four days, technicians will be fully immersed in the practical diagnosis of hybrid and electric vehicles, giving successful candidates an IMI Level 4 Award and the necessary skills, knowledge, and confidence to undertake the diagnosis and associated repairs of electrified vehicles The time spent in the classroom will be kept to a minimum, with a heavy emphasis on immersive, practical training on real cars with live faults, within the workshop.

The training includes the function, operation and diagnosis of the following systems: Hybrid/Electric Vehicle Powertrain Management – Sensors, Actuators, and Control Methods; Charging Systems – Cables, Connections, Communication Protocols; Battery Management Systems – Operating States, Failure Modes, Monitoring Systems, Thermal Management; Battery Diagnosis and Repair – Live Work and Analysis; Hybrid/ Electric Vehicle Safety and Protection Systems – Interlock, Isolation, Insulation, and Bonding Circuits.

The course is being held at multiple locations across the UK – upcoming dates include Walsall 14-17 December, St. Helens 18-21 January 2022, Somerset 25-28 January, Surrey 15-18 February, and Brands Hatch 22-25 February. Candidates must already have achieved the Level 3 Award in Electric Hybrid Vehicle System Repair and Replacement, or an equivalent industry qualification.

“This incorporates IMI Level 4, but it’s called EV Masters for a reason,” Ben Stockton, MD of Our Virtual Academy told autotechnician. “We’re very good trainers but we do acknowledge we’re not there working day in, day out at the grindstone seeing all of the various faults that are around and this is where our tie up with HEVRA has come in. Pete Melville has been collecting failed components for a donor vehicle that we can use, simulating genuine faults that have happened and have been diagnosed throughout the HEVRA network. We dedicate around two and a half days teaching the diagnostic techniques and underpinning knowledge of what these techniques are all about and then wheel out the vehicle and go through the hands-on training, giving us the confidence that what we’ve taught them on the hypothetical on how to diagnose, transfers into doing it for real, with real faults.”

The four-day EV Masters training costs £1,395 + VAT per person. In addition to receiving an OVA EV Masters certificate and an IMI L4 certificate, attendees will also gain three months free access to the advanced hybrid and electric content on OurVirtualAcademy.com.

Email: Sales@OurVirtualAcademy.comwww.ourvirtualacademy.com/ev-masters-roadshow

EV battery & coolant leak detector…

Redline Detection has engineered diagnostic leak detection technology exclusively for battery electric vehicles. “Redline has partnered with leading EV automakers to develop technology that gives 100% assurance that battery cases and battery coolant systems are sealed under precise pressures and meet all OEM and battery manufacturer warranty standards for safety,” says CMO Alex Parker.

The Battery + Coolant Leak Detector (BCLD) was designed to test the integrity of battery enclosures in electric and hybrid vehicles, it connects to the battery enclosure on or off the vehicle, giving audible and visual progress and precise pass/fail indication—specific to that battery and vehicle type—when testing is complete. Data logging and reports can be accessed remotely, and the machine is programmable for future battery configurations.

Testing the integrity of battery enclosures is necessary to ensure that there is no possible intrusion of water, dust, or contaminants that could cause catastrophic failure. Battery enclosures are tested after any collision, even a scrape to the bottom of the battery box over a curb that could compromise the seal, as well as after lid off battery maintenance or service.

ZF Aftermarket Electric Vehicle Systems Training

The electric car market is growing quickly, with nearly 300,000 pure electric, battery-operated vehicles (BEV) cars on UK roads at the end of May 2021, and more than 600,000 plug-in models, if including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

More vehicles, both BEV and PHEVs, are out of warranty and reaching an age where owners want to have service and repairs carried out by independent garages. However, without the correct training, workshop employees are not allowed to touch an electric or hybrid vehicle by hand; a rule which even applies to simple maintenance work on conventional vehicle systems. In line with this, ZF Aftermarket has been working in conjunction with concerned industry parties including the Institute of Motor Industry (IMI) to lobby for increased communication of relevant training.

Make a date – the HVE way…

The High-voltage training, offered under the ZF [pro]Tech garage workshop concept, consists of coordinated e-learning and practical hands-on training for optimal learning success. To meet soaring demand for its HVE courses, the business is preparing to up the ante for 2022, promising to add further course dates to satisfy demand.

Training courses available:

Electrically Instructed Persons

For those who have been used to 12, 24 or 48V automotive electrical systems, a change in mindset and a higher level of awareness is needed to work safely with high voltage electric vehicles. For example, where electrical cables in a conventional vehicle are routinely removed and reinstalled multiple times and connections often tightened by feel, high voltage cables are only rated for a certain number of connection cycles and terminations must be accurately tightened to the specified torque. This is because any abrasion of the contact areas or incorrect tensioning can have a dramatic effect on their electrical resistance, possibly leading to localised heating and subsequent fire risk.

Blending theory and practical instruction, this IMI level 2 approved course imparts sufficient knowledge to take a delegate to the ‘Electrically Instructed Person’ (EIP) level of competence. Attendees learn fundamental safety procedures such as following vehicle manufacturers’ protocols for powering down a vehicle, and applying the correct techniques to ensure electrical isolation so that the vehicle cannot restart unintentionally. Each EIP course is one (admittedly long) day in duration and ideally has only eight delegates attending, allowing each person sufficient time to complete the practical exercises included.

High Voltage Experts

This is probably the most comprehensive level of electric vehicle systems training available in the UK, and is the same as that provided to ZF research and development staff and to certain vehicle manufacturers’ engineering teams and production line technicians.

While someone who achieves EIP status is well on the way to working safely with electric vehicles, they are not yet qualified to work on the high voltage parts of the system. To date, around a third of Electrically Instructed Persons have returned to tackle the advanced stage of ZF Aftermarket’s training offer: the ‘High Voltage Expert’ (HVE) level of competence, which also earns successful attendees the IMI level 3 qualification. Before gaining access to HVE training, applicants must pre-qualify by successfully completing six online e-learning modules during the six weeks prior to training.

The course is split across two weeks; three days per week plus an examination day. Week one covers the fundamental principles of electrical engineering. This takes candidates through Ohm’s law, power consumption and calculations on both series and parallel circuits using a combination of theoretical principles and practical examples. Week two puts this theory into practice, applying it to real world

Course Dates:
Electrically Instructed Persons (EIP) (1 day, IMI Level 2)
• 3rd March 2022
• 24th May 2022
• 30th June /2022
HVE (7-day IMI Level 3)
• 15th to 25th Feb 2022
• 3rd to 13th May 2022

Please get in touch ASAP to book, as places on these courses are determined by current Covid guidelines. Your name will be automatically added to a waiting list if no places are available and you will be informed of further dates in due course.

Email: protech.zf-aftermarket@zf.com

New Bosch Online Training

We are pleased to announce the release of a brand new online training course – Electric/Hybrid Vehicle System Awareness.

With the ever-increasing numbers of these vehicles and the likelihood of seeing them in your workshop, it is important to learn the heath and safety considerations, as well as dispel some of the myths surrounding these vehicles and systems.

As a non-technical course, this will suit not only technicians, but all employee roles within your business, including service managers, front of house, parts advisors, drivers, valeters, recovery personnel and other key team members.

Available to book now and delivered online as 2 x 2 hour modules in a ‘Virtual Classroom’, it is run by dedicated Bosch trainers and provides a fully-interactive learning experience, without the need to travel to one of the Bosch training locations.

Upcoming Dates:

Friday 30th April 2021Book Now
Friday 11th June 2021Book Now
Friday 27th August 2021Book Now
Monday 1st November 2021Book Now

4-Focus – New vehicle innovations from Volvo, Suzuki, Nissan and MG


As a real world-first, Volvo’s innovative air ionisation and filtration system allows occupants to breathe cleaner air and will even clean the cabin air prior to entry. No other carmaker analyses air quality down to PM 2.5 fine particulate contents as yet. Blueair’s 25 years proven system in office environments has been adapted for car use, which gives airborne pollutants an electrical charge that makes them ‘sticky,’ so instead of simply passing through, they stick like magnets to the cabin filter. Volvo claims that that 95% of ‘invisible’ cancer-causing PM 2.5 particulates are prevented from entering the interiors of its cars thus fitted.

Should the driver’s mobile phone be equipped with the relevant app, the driver can compare both in cabin and exterior atmospheric conditions, detected by sensors that determine whether a cleaning cycle is required, prior to making a journey. If air quality changes while driving, the HVAC system will close off outside air and recycle and refresh cabin air. In addition, materials used inside all new cars are known to give off esters and particulates, factors that Volvo has been seeking to reduce significantly in recent years in all of its models and they are also filtered out.

Volvo’s Advanced Air Cleaning (AAC) occupies no more space, or weight, than the original HVAC system and is a size-for-size filter replacement, with a connection to the car’s fuse box to power-up the ioniser and provide a status check on the car’s touchscreen. Although not tested as yet on Covid-19, it is said to remove 99.97% of airborne viruses and bacteria. Intriguingly, Blueair also offers the system as an aftermarket retrofit, distributed by CabinAir of Sweden.


Suzuki, sometime holder of ‘leading UK value brand’ status, has just introduced its version of a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) to its sassy, 1.2-litre, four-cylinder, mild hybrid petrol-engined Ignis model. Reliable and relatively simple CVTs are known to help reduce CO2 emissions, when contrasted with manual gearbox cars. Consisting of a two-speed planetary gear set, an expanded range of six electronically managed step-off points creates a notional seven speed ranges, selected using steering wheel-located up and down paddles.

The torque converter is of a three element, single step and two-phase type, equipped with an automatic lock-up mechanism, which eliminates converter slippage, thereby increasing transmission efficiency, in D (Drive). The gearchange aspect consists of the planetary gear unit, both multiple plate clutch and brake discs, as well as the steel belt running between the primary and secondary pulleys. Using a high-pressure control device and a series of solenoids, accurate line pressure results and the changing distance between the pulleys avoids shift shock and provides seamless, constantly variable progress. For downhill gradients, the brake energy recovery system recharges the mild-hybrid battery (48v, located below front passenger seat) via the combined starter-alternator (ISG). As expected, the car’s stop:start technology is integrated fully with the CVT for smooth stops and restarts in D (Drive).


It is a sad fact of life that disasters occur as a result of natural, or man- instigated phenomena and power outages usually result. Yet, Nissan has been working extensively on a specially developed version of its Leaf EV that can provide a positive aid in the recovery process, its lithium-ion battery pack providing a dependable emergency supply of electricity for medical equipment, communications, lighting and other life support items. Known as RE-LEAF, its potential has been hailed as revolutionary by disaster management experts.

Access along debris strewn routes is achieved by raising the standard ride height (from 70 to 225mm), installing a protective underbody guard and fitting multi-surface tyres on forged alloy wheels. The rear seats have been removed to provide space for rescue equipment and a pull-out desk with 32-inch monitor. Yet, since the Nissan Leaf was launched, it has been equipped with a bi-directional charging ability; it can not only draw charge but also feed it back into the grid, or directly to charge other electric devices. Blessed with high reliability and a consistent supply of electricity a boot-located domestic socket is supported by a pair of weatherproofed external sockets, which can run a jack hammer, a ventilation fan, an ICU ventilator, a 100W floodlight, or other devices, for up to 24 hours. Since 2011, in Japan, the RE-LEAF has become a valuable disaster support medium and is a prime example of automotive technology providing further reaching human benefits.


Some carmakers will resort to any means by which to make their latest models appear up to date on the money and more sophisticated than they really are. KERS, or Kinetic Energy Recovery System, was developed for F1 racing cars, as a means to recover energy such as that generated by braking, or deceleration, which might have been ‘lost’ otherwise.

The recovered heat energy can be stored in a battery, a supercapacitor, or even as mechanical energy in a flywheel, ready to be redeployed as a power boost subsequently. The latest MG5, which is an EV, is the first road-going vehicle to feature a KERS button in its centre console switch bank. While a Formula One car can store 111Wh in each circuit lap, which equates to an extra 82bhp and just over six seconds of deployment time, it is a different mechanical ideology to that of the MG5.

While the MG uses Brake Energy Recovery as a means to extend the usable charge available in its main rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, it is not intended as a means to boost power momentarily for greater acceleration. Depress the KERS button in an MG5 and it reveals three-stages of energy recovery, from light and medium to heavy. The latter setting will allow the driver to slow the car rapidly and reduce the need to use the brake pedal in normal driving conditions. However, as innovative as the all-electric, only estate car model MG wishes to be perceived, its KERS is not as technologically capable as in an F1 car, however ‘cute’ the terminology might be.

Are we ready for a 2030 ban on sale of new petrol and diesel cars?

There is much speculation that the government is planning to move forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030, with hybrids given a reprieve to 2035, but Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI, warns that this acceleration could put motorists and automotive workers at serious risk.

“I admire the confidence of those feeding this speculation – apparently there are assurances that the infrastructure will be ready by this date. But there is so much more to consider than simply the charging infrastructure.

“Indeed, in some ways the charging network issue is relatively simple to resolve…it just needs investment, and rather a lot of it! However, we won’t get the network we need if the government leaves it largely to private businesses to solve the problem, as it has done up to now. The investments made by our government are paltry compared to other countries.

“But I worry that a much bigger piece of the jigsaw has been forgotten. What about the technicians to service and repair this new automotive technology which, in turn, will give motorists the essential confidence they need?

“As we advance towards a zero- emission future, the technology that technicians will be coming into contact with is changing – resulting in high voltage electrics becoming commonplace. Motorists driving electrified vehicles want to know that they are handing over their vehicle to someone who has the right skills. Those who aren’t properly trained or equipped to work on electrified vehicles would be risking serious injury or potentially fatal shock. The IMI TechSafeTM standards, endorsed by OLEV at the end of 2019, mean that electrified vehicle users can access the IMI Professional Register to check the electric vehicle technical competencies of technicians at their local garage.

“This is a crucial step in giving car buyers confidence that their electric vehicle can be serviced, maintained and repaired by a garage with the right skills – and that removes a key barrier to EV adoption. But it’s also important that government looks at investment in skills training to support a sector that is currently severely depleted by COVID-19, to ensure its zero emissions goals can be achieved.”


Sales of alternative fuel vehicles overtake diesel

33,000 pure electric and hybrid cars were registered between April and June, compared with 29,900 diesels, according to The Department for Transport. Research from Close Brothers Motor Finance finds that pre lockdown, a third of drivers planned to buy a green vehicle next, while petrol and diesel were seeing a downward drop in popularity.

Close Brothers Motor Finance’s research included a telephone survey of over 200 UK car dealers and a consumer survey of over 2,000 UK drivers, weighted to be nationally representative. It found that once purchased, car buyers do not switch back, with 93% of AFV owners admitting they’d buy another one again, compared with just one in ten buyers who said they would opt for a diesel car next. Although petrol remains the most popular choice of fuel type, it continues to see a downward drop year on year, from 42% to 37% of drivers planning to buy another. With a fifth planning on buying a hybrid car, and one in ten opting for electric. Environmental concerns are the leading reason why people would opt for an AFV (28%), followed by cheaper running costs.

Seán Kemple, Managing Director at Close Brothers Motor Finance, commented: “At the start of the year, it looked like the shift to AFVs would be one of the biggest trends for the motor industry in 2020. Ambitious targets set by the Government to achieve zero-emissions streets put the wheels in motion for a greener future. And the demand is clearly there too.

“But in recent months, the shift to electric has been deprioritised for car dealers as they were forced to shut down shop in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. While the sector is bouncing back, dealers are now focused on getting buyers the keys to their next car and adapting to a very different retail environment. But the coming months are also an opportunity for the industry to build back better, a part of which will be building back, but greener. As people are continuing to turn away from public transport and look for alternative ways to travel, the car market is seeing a boost. Coupled with growing environmental consciousness and a looming diesel ban, demand for AFVs is likely to continue rising, and dealers have a chance to capitalise on this. Government support will also be vital in shaping the recovery of the sector and develop infrastructure to facilitate the shift the electric.”

4 Focus – Innovative Technology – Jaguar, Renault, Kia, Falken

Iain Robertson takes a look at innovative technology in newer models…


It might be terrifying enough to have other road-users jumping out at you, while carrying out a test drive, but Jaguar is already working on the first application of Virtual Reality (3D technology) for its next-generation of head-up displays (HUD). Naturally, HUD is not new and the Land Rover arm of the company has already developed ‘virtual terrain’ technology using perimetric cameras to provide off-roaders with a virtual and augmented view of what lies ahead and just below the front axle, aspects that would normally dictate an external check first. However, Jaguar’s research is being carried out in conjunction with the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) at Cambridge University. The intention is to develop a more immersive and safer driving experience that will match more closely real-life activities to make drivers react more speedily and naturally to hazards and prompts, when using the HUD (the graphic images of which are normally projected onto the lower section of windscreen). Perhaps more intriguing is the ‘split-screen’ technology that allows a front passenger but not the driver to view TV programmes on the car’s central touchscreen (nothing new) but 3D programmes can now be viewed without a need to wear special glasses. Both developments form part of Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Smart Cabin’ vision for the future, applying technologies that combine to create personalised in-car spaces, with enhanced safety, entertainment and convenience central to an autonomous, shared plan. 


One of the core issues residing around the ‘eco-friendly’ claims made by various carmakers for their latest electrified vehicle offerings, apart from electricity being sourced from coal, gas, or oil-fired power stations, is that CO2 emissions are still high in manufacturing terms. Therefore, it makes it difficult, when attempting to state a positive environmental contribution, when the ‘costs’ associated with EVs are steeper than for ICE alternatives. Carmakers have been slow to introduce trim fabrics produced from rapidly renewable plants. BMW has managed it with its i3, in using bamboo fibres to produce upholstery. Now, Renault has joined the 100% renewable set with its much- revised Zoe model. Using a special carding technique, without melting or chemical reconstruction, the industry first process uses old seatbelts and recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastics that are already regarded as being inert and safe, in what is known as ‘short-loop’ manufacturing. It is cost- effective and reduces emissions by around 60%, in contrast with conventional fabric production. Applied to dashboard, centre console, door cards and seating, the result is a very high-quality finish. However, on upmarket versions of the Zoe, which feature a leather-like fabric alongside the cloth, no animals have been sacrificed for the more luxurious appearance. Again, a similar process has resulted in the leatherette fabric, which breathes similarly to hide and is even more wear and stain resistant, as added bonuses. 


While pre-emptive gearbox shift technology features in the Nissan Skyline GTR35, see New Car Focus on page 60, problems confronting manufacturers of hybrid vehicles are, firstly, the type of transmission being used, which tends to favour constantly variable, secondly, the speed of perceived ratio changes and, as an adjunct, the enjoyment factor for the driver. Kia, while not unique, uses a fairly conventional, twin-clutch, automated-manual gearbox in its hybrid models. Renowned for effecting race-quick and normally smooth gearchanges, you might not feel that further improvements can be made. However, Hyundai, Kia’s parent company, has now developed ASC (Active Shift Control), which applies control logic software (that monitors gearshift speeds 500 times a second) to the Hybrid Control Unit (HCU) electric motor that aligns the rotational speeds of both engine and gearbox, to reduce gearshift times from 500ms to 350ms and make the changes smoother too. Most hybrids do not feature torque converters, as they can be very inefficient. Using the ASC, Kia’s tests resulted in better acceleration, increased fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions, with the added benefit of increasing the longevity of the transmission, by minimising friction during each gearshift. The speedier gearshifts impart extra driver satisfaction. Once the test programme is completed, ASC will be introduced to all hybrid cars in Hyundai-Kia’s ranges. 


School-time physics ensures that most people know that motion energy can be turned into another form of energy. Therefore, it is fascinating to learn that Falken Tyre, which is part of the enormous Sumitomo Rubber Industries conglomerate, has been working in close association with the Kansai University in Japan. While energy is required and used by both engine and transmission to turn road wheels, the tyres heat-up and static electricity builds-up. If the energy were harnessed, it might be  used to generate electricity efficiently, as the wheels turn. The result of the exercise is the Energy Harvester tyre. Within its carcass are two layers of rubber, each of which is covered in an electrode, along with a negatively charged film that interfaces with a positively charged film. When fixed to the inside of a conventional tyre carcass, it generates electricity as the tyre deforms during rotation. Falken’s engineers believe that the Energy Harvester could lead to practical applications, such as a power source for sensors used by TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems), although it has to be noted that TPMS sensors are not especially power sapping, meaning that future development is needed for it to be of any practical use. Created as part of Sumitomo’s R&D programme to develop technologies that target improvements in safety and environmental performance, the Japan Science and Technology Agency (a national R&D body) has recognised it as a ‘seed project’ under A-STEP (a technology transfer programme). Sumitomo Rubber Industries will now advance its research with support from the Agency. 


Autodata gives an overview of the 48V mild hybrid system

Unlike true-hybrid configurations that use the engine and/or electric motor to propel the vehicle, the 48V mild hybrid system is used in a typical stop-start vehicle with the integration of a 48 volt electric motor/generator assembly to supplement the engine, improving acceleration and enhancing fuel economy. Electrifying components such as the air conditioning compressor, power steering pump and engine oil pump further reduces the engine load and increases fuel efficiency. 

The automotive industry contemplated using a 42-volt system in the 1990s but was later dismissed due to cost concerns and practicalities such as switches and relays prematurely failing. Driven by environmental concerns, modern electronics make use of transistors, diodes and microswitches which are more robust, making this a more viable option. Why stop at 48 volts? Current regulations state anything over 60 volts officially becomes ‘high voltage’. This adds extra cost due to expensive shielding, connectors and conduits like the orange ones commonly seen on many hybrid and electric vehicles. Yet, this doesn’t mean the electrical architecture of the entire vehicle will move to 48 volts. The conventional 12-volt supply is still used to power many of the standard circuits. The common 48V mild hybrid consists of a small number of additional components: electric motor/generator assembly, AC/DC inverter, DC/DC converter, a 48V battery and an e-charger. 

Electric motor/generator assembly: The water cooled, belt driven electric motor/generator replaces the regular alternator and functions to restart the engine after a stop-start event. The 12-volt starter motor is used for normal starting via the ignition key. The electric motor/generator can support the engine to improve acceleration and reduce load strategically to maximise fuel economy and when in generator mode, recharges both batteries, like a conventional alternator, but also when the vehicle is coasting or braking. 

AC/DC inverter: The AC/DC inverter can either be integrated or non-integrated into the 48V electric motor/generator and performs two functions. It converts the direct current from the 48V battery to alternating current, which then powers the electric motor/generator in motor mode, and also converts the AC generated by the electric motor/generator whilst in generator mode to DC – recharging the 12- and 48V batteries. 

DC/DC converter: As this vehicle encompasses both 12 volt and 48V systems, a DC/DC converter is installed to reduce the electrical voltage from 48 volts to 12 volts. 

48V battery: The lithium-ion 48V battery is generally located in the rear of the vehicle. Just like the electric motor/generator, it can use the cooling system to dissipate heat. 

E-charger: The conventional turbocharger is superseded with an electrified version, or e-charger. Instead of waiting for the exhaust gases to spin the impeller up to speed, an electric motor is used, instantly providing the necessary boost. Alternatively, superchargers can also be electrified to provide equivalent results as an electric motor driven turbocharger. 


Vehicle manufacturers are already developing other intelligent enhancements to compliment the 48V system. The following are just some examples: 

• Dynamic Skip Fire, DSF, technology integrates cylinder deactivation with the 48V mild hybrid system. The DSF system isolates a cylinder by disconnecting the camshaft followers, locking the inlet and exhaust valves in the closed position when less power is required, improving fuel economy. 

• Extended stop-start technology: This system will also switch off the engine when approaching a stop or while the vehicle is cruising at a constant speed. 

• Electrically heated catalytic converter: To reduce the amount of harmful emissions, the catalytic converter must reach operating temperature as quickly as possible. Hybrid systems exacerbate this due to frequent stop-start events or coasting with engine off however, this can be easily solved by heating the catalytic converter electrically using the 48V system. 

So, while the current 12 volt system struggles, compared with other more expensive true hybrids, the 48 volt mild hybrid technology offers a cost-effective solution in satisfying emission regulations and future increases in energy-hungry electrical components. The use of 48 volt technology is set to grow even further as stricter CO2 emission targets are set and the decline of the internal combustion engine continues. With the growth in popularity and demand for HEVs and EVs, Autodata is rolling out drive system diagrams for electric and hybrid vehicles. 


Reader Letter: Does EV business pay?

“For the last 15 years, many have said that to continue as an independent, we should alienate much of our customer base and specialise in a certain area or marque. Well, we at Cleevely Motors are still busy and, although having to continually invest in equipment and training, we are still able to maintain most makes and models. 

“Looking to the near future though, what will become of the independent who can’t look after their customers who are changing over to a hybrid or EV? I took the commercial decision 18 months ago to start building an EV and Hybrid part of the business called Cleevely EV after purchasing a Nissan Leaf. After driving this new technology, I knew it would be the successor to our slow, expensive and inefficient combustion engines. We are already seeing our traditional customers transfer to alternative-fuelled vehicles and we can continue to look after them and retain their business. So, 18 months on, how is it going? Day to day we don’t see enough faults or jobs to survive as an EV-only business, however, work and enquiries are increasing, as many owners of these first generation of EVs are searching for somewhere more economical, than dealers, to maintain them. 

“Owning and using EVs daily is a key factor of the reputation we are building. EV customers tend to be very informed about their cars and very passionate about them – be warned, you won’t be able to baffle them with information about repairs! I haven’t yet experienced any hugely problematic jobs. We have replaced a Tesla on-board charge unit, which was diagnosed by Tesla remotely, and the customer came to us for the replacement to save costs. We have investigated faults that we have traced back to wiring, nothing more technical than you will see in your workshop. There are the obvious dangers of working with high voltage, but due to my training, I am fully aware of the necessary processes to keep myself and my colleagues safe. 

“You may have seen previous reports about our training facilities being used by Pro-Moto to train other technicians, or ‘the competition’. I have been asked, more than once, why I would want other garages doing the same thing as us? The answer is because I want all independents to continue and thrive. Electrified drivetrain adoption will grow and I believe it will grow faster if independents are qualified to maintain them and promote the benefits to their customer bases, or at least have the knowledge to answer questions about them. This is why I’m assisting the IMI with the TechSafe scheme and share my experience with the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance, or HEVRA. Over the last 18 months, we have developed specialist parts, instructional videos and guides for any independent that wants to create their own EV section of the business. These are now available with the additional membership levels of HEVRA, including access to our stock of used EV and Tesla rental opportunities. I can’t recommend the benefits HEVRA membership has given us highly enough. We are regularly asked by EV owners up and down the country if we are going to franchise, but we see our involvement with HEVRA as a better opportunity to share the benefits with other independents, so we can all thrive. 

“So, am I happy I made the difficult commercial decision 18 months ago? The answer is most definitely, yes. I’m very proud of the Cleevely EV and Motors team for building the reputation we have within the EV community. It has involved a lot of dedication, weekend events and still requires constant social media promotion and involvement, but I know it is the right direction to go in. We aren’t stopping at what we have achieved so far either, there is more to come, but we are in the biggest change period our trade has ever seen, so why not keep changing?” 

Matt Cleevely, Cleevely Motors, Cheltenham. 

For EV and hybrid technical information, training and support, please contact: hello@hevra.org.uk. 

Noise systems in new electric cars introduced to improve safety

As of the 1st July, all manufacturers must install an acoustic sound system in new types of quiet electric and hybrid electric vehicles to improve road safety. 

Vehicles will now have systems to produce a sound, similar to that made by a conventional engine,
when they are reversing or driving below 12mph, to protect vulnerable road users. This can be temporarily deactivated by the driver if judged necessary. 

Michael Ellis, Roads Minister, said: “The government wants the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone, and understands the concerns of the visually impaired about the possible hazards posed by quiet electric vehicles. This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road.” 

In March 2019, the government outlined the ambition for all future transport to be safer and more accessible in the ‘Future of Mobility: urban strategy’. The Department for Transport will conduct a roundtable with accessibility groups to discuss the government’s commitment to making transport accessible for all.