Futuristic two-seater prioritizes aerodynamic efficiency over highly reliable battery-charge readings
The Aura concept, a futuristic two-seater that is road-legal and legal for electric cars, was developed by a group of British companies. It showcases a variety of technologies that could influence the future of electric cars.
The project was completed by four companies: Astheimer designed the project, Potenza Technology provided the electric motors and batteries, BAMD Composites created the body panels, and BAMD Composites the interior. Conjure handled the human-machine interface (HMI) which used technology from Spark EV to efficiently manage the battery charge.
The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), through the Niche Vehicle Network, provided funding for the concept. The development of the concept began on October 1, 2020, less than one year before it was made public at the Cenex -LCV show.
The Aura is a traditional open-top sportscar, but its main focus is sustainability and efficiency and not speed or dynamic agility. It was designed to be “efficient in power and its demands on it”, and employs a variety of measures to maximize range and minimize its environmental impact.
The body is made from lightweight, sustainably sourced natural fiber composites. It has been shaped using computational fluid dynamic (CFD) technology in order to maximise aerodynamic efficiency. To reduce drag, the rear wheels are covered. The prominent rear diffuser reduces the car’s wake. To reduce friction, it also has low-resistance tires.
For optimal weight distribution and low centre of gravity, two 44kWh batteries are seperated. One is placed under the long, low bonnet and the other is more conventionally mounted under the floor. This arrangement not only enhances the car’s performance but also makes it easy to access the battery packs for maintenance.
These cells are said to send their reserve to a rear-mounted engine of undisclosed power and give the Aura a range of around 400 miles, making it one the most functional EVs with a long range. The Aura is technically different from other series-production EVs in that it can reduce range anxiety by using a bespoke battery management platform.
Conjure’s Android powered HMI system is displayed via a self-levelling 5.0in circle display on the steering wheel and a central touchscreen of 10.0in. It uses Spark EV’s energy-optimisation technology, which provides highly accurate and realistic estimates of battery-charge. These estimates are based on a wide range factors including driving style, weather, and the environment.
Spark claims its software ensures that drivers will not run out of power unexpectedly, or have to wait at a charging point for too long. It also gives readings within 99.5% accuracy.
Spark EV claims that many EVs today give inaccurate charge indications. This is because they don’t have enough data to analyze. Spark EV claims that its own system can offer “near-perfect energy optimization mid-journey”, and can be connected with a ‘digital twin” of the car for analysis of regular driving routes, which can help increase range and decrease environmental impact.
At the launch of Spark EV, Justin Ott, Spark EV CEO, explained to Autocar: “We tell you whether you can get to your destination. Then we compare actual energy with predicted energy, and refine it using a machine learning algorithm that is tailored for each user. It adapts to battery health and conditions, and you as a driver.
The associated app visualizes this data as a border line on a map. This effectively shows how far Aura can travel in each direction, based on all metrics.
Ott stated that Spark EV has been in contact with two Chinese manufacturers regarding the fitting of this system to two “premium” electric cars. He also revealed that Spark EV is currently working with two electric truck companies – one in Scandinavia, and one in America – on projects which will begin in the coming weeks.
It also recently won a contract with an EV truck manufacturer, which will use the technology for advising customers on which type of battery pack to choose based on their predicted load weight and usage cycles.
Aura’s designers want to remove distrust in EVs by overcoming the prevailing barrier that still hinders their widespread adoption: range anxiety. Ott stated that the car is a “showcase” to show the world how technology can be used to overcome these obstacles.