ElecTrike Japan Begins to Accept Orders for 3-wheeled EV

Apr 19, 2013
Motohiko Hamada, Nikkei Automotive Technology
The "ElecTrike" EV being charged
The "ElecTrike" EV being charged
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It is equipped with two inverters
It is equipped with two inverters
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The rear side of the EV. Two motors (right and left) and a reducer unit (center).
The rear side of the EV. Two motors (right and left) and a reducer unit (center).
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]

ElecTrike Japan Co Ltd started to accept orders for the "ElecTrike" three-wheeled electric vehicle (EV) April 16, 2013.

ElecTrike plans to sell 10 units of the EV in Kawasaki City, where its headquarters are located, for a price of ¥2 million (approx US$20,362) per unit in fiscal 2013 and ship them in mid-May. The company intends to sell 100 units in Japan in fiscal 2014. It aims to manufacture the EV at a monthly production rate of 100 units or more and sell it to the public for a price of ¥1 million in fiscal 2015 or later.

The chassis of the EV is manufactured by India-based Bajaj Auto Ltd, which produces 45,000 three-wheeled vehicles per year and has modern production facilities. Bajaj has high technical capabilities and formed a technology partnership with Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd to produce the "Ninja" two-wheeled vehicle.

ElecTrike imports three-wheeled vehicles from Bajaj and remodels them into EVs in Japan. The 190cc engine taken out from the original vehicle is used for a stationary power generator. When the production rate exceeds 100 units per month, it becomes necessary to expand production capacity. In that case, the company will probably make investments in Laos or Cambodia, it said.

The three-wheeled EV comes with an iron phosphate-based lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable battery manufactured by Hong Kong-based Sinopoly Battery Ltd. Its capacity is 5kWh. The battery management system (BMS) of the battery is manufactured by Denmark-based Lithium Balance.

If a BMS is developed for each kind of vehicle, development cost is incurred each time. But Lithium Balance's products can be easily tuned for each kind of vehicle by changing parameters in a program.

For larger volume production, ElecTrike is considering employing batteries manufactured by South Korea-based SK Innovation Co Ltd, Automotive Energy Supply Corp (AESC), etc. If AESC's battery is used, its capacity will be 4kWh, which is 1/6 that of the capacity of Nissan Motor Co Ltd's Leaf EV. But it has almost the same performance as Sinopoly Battery's battery because the variation in the performance of AESC's batteries is smaller than that in the performance of Sinopoly Battery's batteries.

The motor and inverter of the EV are manufactured by South Korea-based VCTech Co Ltd. It is equipped with two motors and two inverters so that the right and left wheels can be independently driven. Therefore, it does not use a differential gear unit.

A trailing-arm suspension is used for the rear wheels, and the motors are fixed on the springs, which are located behind the wheel axis. The reducer unit of the EV is manufactured by Mitsubishi Agricultural Machinery Co Ltd. The unit contains two independent reducers.

In Japan, the EV is registered as a motorcycle with sidecar and can be driven with a normal driver's license.

The other specifications of the EV are as follows.

Mass: 450kg
Maximum loading capacity: 150kg
Dimensions: 2,500 (L) x 1,300 (W) x 1,670mm (H)
Minimum turning radius: 2.9m
Maximum speed: 50km/h
Riding capacity: 1
Drive range: 40km
Charging time: 3 hours with a 200V power source, 6 hours with a 100V power source