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Lightweight Construction DLR Tests Ultra-Light Commuter Car

Editor: MA Alexander Stark

The Safe Light Regional Vehicle is a concept developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The body of the very light and electric commuter and shuttle car has already passed its first crash tests.

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The DLR's Safe Light Regional Vehicle (SLRV) is characterized by a very light and, at the same time, particularly safe body made of sandwich materials.
The DLR's Safe Light Regional Vehicle (SLRV) is characterized by a very light and, at the same time, particularly safe body made of sandwich materials.
(Source: DLR)

As part of the large-scale Next Generation Car (NGC) project, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have developed an innovative concept for small vehicles: the Safe Light Regional Vehicle (SLRV). According to the developers, the SLRV is based primarily on a very light body that is to conserve as many resources as possible. At the same time, the vehicle offers a high level of passive safety features.


Electric Commuter and Shuttle Car

With a range of around 400 km, as stated by DLR, and based on a compact electric drive train, the SLRV will primarily serve as a commuter and shuttle car. The engine will be powered by a fuel cell. One possible application includes journeys from the surrounding countryside to the city — i.e. where public transportation is not covering the whole area.

According to DLR, the body of the two-seater SLRV is low and elongated in order to achieve the lowest possible aerodynamic drag. With a weight of around 80 kg, the car is very light, but at the same time very safe and inexpensive to manufacture. This is made possible by the so-called sandwich construction method. The sandwich material used consists of a metal top layer and a plastic foam filling.

Sandwich Panels Used in Front and Rear Carriages

The front and rear carriages of the SLRV are made of sandwich panels and function as crash zones. A large part of the vehicle technology is also mounted inside these panels. The passenger compartment consists of a vehicle hull with a ring structure on top. This structure absorbs the forces acting on the car during the journey and is designed to protect the occupants in the event of a crash.

"So far, structures made of sandwich materials have not been used in the series production of vehicles. There is a great deal of research needed to characterize the behavior of such structures and to determine the best way to use them," explains Michael Kriescher, who is heading the SLRV project. "An especially important question to be answered is the behavior of sandwich structures under stress, up to the most extreme case, the crash," adds the DLR researcher.

Crash Test of Two Prototypes

For this reason, the DLR scientists also built two prototypes and tested them on the crash facility of the Institute for Vehicle Concepts in Stuttgart. A frontal crash and a pole crash were carried out, similar to those that are done in the automotive industry.

"Both crash tests worked well and provided us with many interesting results, which we are now comparing with our simulations. This enables us to continuously further develop the SLRV body and improve it in a targeted manner," says Michael Kriescher, summarizing the tests. As a next milestone, the DLR scientists want to build a demonstrator, i.e. a functioning research vehicle.

This article was first published by Automobil Industrie

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