Land Rover’s new AC should increase the range of electric vehicles

Air conditioning is something we take for granted, but, in the world of electric cars, it represents another draw of power – in a vehicle that already has limited resources.

Land Rover’s new AC should increase the range of electric vehicles

But Jaguar Land Rover has revealed a revolutionary type of air conditioning, designed to improve efficiency and increase the range of forthcoming hybrid and all-electric vehicles. While battery capacity and motor efficiency are obvious areas for development, refining auxiliary systems can also provide serious gains in range.  

Named Air Bubble and Warm Air Cushion, the new systems could reduce the power consumption of AC units by as much as 50%. The result? Electric vehicles equipped with the new system will last for more miles between charges.

How does it work?

Unlike traditional air conditioning systems, which draw in a constant supply of fresh air, Jaguar Land Rover’s Air Bubble system works by capturing and refiltering one “bubble” of air. By using reflective glass to block out heat and a filter to remove CO2, moisture and particulates, Jaguar Land Rover says its new system will require significantly less energy.

“Today’s air conditioning systems can draw 8-10kW from an electric vehicle battery, enough to reduce the range by up to 40%, while air conditioning can reduce the range of an internal combustion engine by up to 20%,” said Dr Wolfgang Epple, Jaguar Land Rover’s director of research and technology.jaguar_land_rover_air_bubble

“So, to improve the fuel economy and emissions of internal combustion engines and to enhance the range of a future BEV, we have been rethinking the thermal management of a vehicle cabin. We are developing new methods of heating and cooling the cabin, to achieve substantial reductions in energy consumption.”

In conjunction with the Air Bubble tech, Jaguar Land Rover has also developed a more efficient way to heat and cool passengers. Named Warm Air Cushion, the new technology uses small microporous surfaces to heat each passenger individually, while also using a small amount of energy.

“By combining the [Air Bubble and Warm Air Cushion] techniques, early test results show it is possible to reduce the consumption of an HVAC system by half, from 8-12kW, to 4-6kW,” said Dr Epple.

The future of EV’s

Efficiency is important throughout electric cars, not just under their bonnets. Automotive companies will have to think within these new set of rules. EVs may look like their traditional counterparts, but their innovative power source brings a host of new problems. While it’s normal to use AC, radio and interior lights in petrol or diesel-engined cars, doing the same in EVs will actively reduce the distance you can drive.

To combat the issue of efficiency, Land Rover has also revealed weight-saving techniques, including the replacement of heavy wiring looms with light, printed electronic circuits – like those currently used in curved televisions.

“Weight-saving is crucial to improve fuel consumption and emissions,” said Epple. “Our researchers are moving beyond lightweight body structures and are looking at every component in the car, from how to replace traditional wiring looms with printed electronics, to developing prototype seats much lighter than they are today.”

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