"Most environmentally friendly" SUV: German manufacturer builds hybrid car that should last 50 years

SUVs enjoy great popularity and yet they are controversial.

"Most environmentally friendly" SUV: German manufacturer builds hybrid car that should last 50 years

SUVs enjoy great popularity and yet they are controversial. The vehicles are held partly responsible for climate change precisely because of their size and weight. And from the point of view of critics, these characteristics are not in line with electric SUVs, where energy efficiency plays an even more important role than with combustion engines. But the manufacturer Evolution wants to take countermeasures and prove that an SUV can be sustainable and environmentally friendly. The developed cross-over from an off-roader and a van called Space should last 50 years - more than five times as long as the average age of passenger cars in Germany (as of January 2021). The Aachen-based company around the founder Günther Schuh, Professor of Production Systems and Production Management at the RWTH Aachen University, wants to focus on standardization and durable chassis in production. In addition, his company wants to keep the vehicle state-of-the-art with updates and upgrades every five years. The modernization is to take place in the in-house "Re-Assembly" factory and give the seven-seater a significantly longer service life compared to other cars.

The Space uses a relatively small lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 40 kWh, which is installed flat in the underbody. This should allow the SUV to travel just 150 kilometers. The drive battery should be able to be charged at the in-house wall box as well as at the fast charging station. Here, too, Evolution wants to focus on sustainability: after five years of use, the battery should continue to do its job in solar systems for at least 20 years. To take away the fear of range from drivers, a solar roof is optionally available - as an alternative to a removable folding sliding compartment. In addition, the electricity for the battery should be able to be generated by means of a fuel cell. However, until the drive technology in the space is mature, an internal combustion engine operated with LPG as a so-called range extender should make it possible to travel longer distances. This should deliver an additional range of 600 kilometers. Schuh explains to the technology magazine "Golem": "The combustion of LPG  [Autogas] hardly produces any nitrogen and the CO2 emissions are lower than with petrol." However, the engine must first be warmed up with petrol. That's why a small petrol tank is installed, which should increase the range of the hybrid car to a maximum of 1000 kilometers.

Technically, the car, which is around 4.1 to 4.92 meters long (depending on the version) and 1.92 meters wide, uses all-wheel drive with a 190 hp engine on each axle. The top speed is 180 km/h, then the engine shuts down. Large wheel lock angles at the front and the ability to steer with the rear wheels should make the Space easier to control than other SUVs and vans. The result should be "sporty and safe" driving behavior.

The manufacturer also promises "superior comfort in all driving situations". Inside the vehicle there is a continuous glass display on the dashboard, which is intended to provide the driver with driving information and at the same time provide entertainment for the passenger. Here, too, Evolution strives for sustainable consumption. New displays and innovative technologies should be easy to install as part of updates.

The seats are therefore also designed for sustainability: a covering with renewable natural fibers should result in a long service life. The seat structure also allows the interior to be regularly upgraded with new upholstery and fabric instead of replacing the seat. In order to save costs, Schuh wants to do without press shops and painting lines and use an open source system. Many control devices are to be replaced by a central computer. In addition, a uniform communication system should work in the vehicle.

The Space is said to be the "most eco-friendly vehicle" currently, even though it's not yet on the market. Schuh at least has experience in vehicle construction. He is also the founder of the car manufacturer e.Go Mobile and Streetscooter, which later became the property of Deutsche Post and equipped the Bonn-based group's fleet with electric vehicles. In addition, Evolution presented a prototype of an electric shuttle with up to seven seats last June. The vehicle goes by the name Meta and companies should be able to subscribe to it in order to offer their employees a free ride to the office and back. It also has four office spaces, which should combine travel and work in a sensible way. In addition, the use of the meta should avoid traffic jams and make large company car parks superfluous. Like the space, components of the shuttle vehicle should be able to be exchanged and updated.

The SUV model is by no means just a research project. According to the plans, the space can be reserved from the middle of the year before small series production is scheduled to begin in early 2025. The hybrid car will initially not be available for sale but only by subscription. The price should be around 1000 euros per month including maintenance, winter tires and insurance.

Sources: e.Volution, Golem, Kba

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