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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Design of a Freeway-Capable Narrow Lane Vehicle


This study focuses on the design of a narrow (44 inches maximum width) vehicle capable of moving two occupants safely at freeway speeds with an emphasis on comfort, efficiency and performance. The design addresses consumer acceptance problems of past narrow vehicles such as "too small", "too ugly", "too unstable", "too wet", "too slow", "too complicated", and "too expensive". A full CAD model was developed to show the external vehicle shape, occupant seating and ergonomics, and the packaging of driveline components. Simulations were run using S/MPLFV and Advisor 2002 to predict vehicle performance and range. The size and mass characteristics of the driveline components used in the simulations were based on commercially-available EV products and selected for the special requirements of a relatively lightweight (450400 kg) vehicle. Dynamic stability and safety of the vehicle are of prime importance and were considered in all phases of the design. The narrow lane "commute/'vehicle is designed to permit two cars to travel abreast on a standard lane, or single file on a shoulder or auxiliary lane of highway. The vehicle modeled incorporates electric drive and is designed to have a >100 mile range using lithium-ion batteries. This study shows that narrow lane vehicles using current technology power train components are a viable option to increase vehicle throughput on existing roadways and reduce transportation energy consumption.

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