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At the 81st Geneva Motor Show from 1-13 March 2011, Artega Automobil GmbH & Co. KG introduced an electric version of its mid-engine sports car. "Our aim is to combine environmental responsibility with the passion for automobiles," said Artega chief executive Peter Müller. With this forward-looking project, the company headquartered in Delbrück once again demonstrates the benefits and strengths of its manufacturing plant. Technical expertise and quick decision-making processes have enabled the company to implement a completely new drive concept in a very short period of time. Artega has also cooperated with the Fraunhofer Institute, one of the most competent development partners in the automotive sector. The research organization bought two Artega vehicles more than a year ago to test their feasibility as electrically powered cars.
Two electric motors on the rear axle with a total output of 280 kW (380 horsepower) give the car its powerful thrust. The two engines operate independently, with each driving one of the rear wheels. The Artega SE accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.3 seconds (4.8 seconds with a combustion engine). Unlike the combustion engine, the electric engines transmit their power linearly and immediately, with no delay. The maximum velocity is well over 250 km/h. The entire drive train weight just 150 kilograms. The degree of efficiency is extremely high, namely more than 90%.
A total of 16 tried-and-tested battery modules with lithium ion polymer cells are built into the Artega SE. Each of these modules contains 12 battery cells, and they operate for the most part autonomously. Twelve modules are located in the rear of the vehicle and four in the front. All of the batteries are water-cooled and produce a total of 37 kilowatt/hours and a nominal voltage of 350 V. The total weight of the battery system is 310 kg.
According to the New European Driving Cycle standard, the Artega SE has a range of 300 kilometers; under normal driving conditions it can comfortably achieve 200 km. The batteries can be recharged using conventional household electricity with the help of a plug in the rear of the vehicle. The recharging time can be considerably reduced when park-and-ride stations or special parking lots with recharging facilities are used. The depleted batteries can be fully recharged in just 90 minutes.
The mid-engine concept and the rear-attached subframe for the drive unit are excellently suited for use with an electric motor. The axle distribution of 57% in the rear and 43% in the front is identical to that of the Artega GT with a combustion engine. Its uncompromising lightweight construction gives it a total weight according to EU standards of just 1285 kilograms - a decisive advantage over its competition. The Artega SE weighs in at 1400 kg, just about 10% more than the GT version. That means the handling and braking performance will be comparable to those of the Artega GT, which received outstanding reviews in the trade press. The entire vehicle with brakes and damping has the appropriate dimensions to accommodate the added power of 59 kW (80 horsepower) and resulting improved performance of the electric version.
Using the toggle switches on the steering wheel, the driver can adjust the recuperation rate when he removes his foot from the accelerator. The settings are variable from about 75 kW to zero recuperation, a level referred to as "sailing." This allows the driver to modify the characteristics of the acceleration pedal to suit his own wishes or the respective driving conditions.
The instrument cluster has been redesigned with combined analog/digital displays for speed, range, battery level and energy flow.
With 4000 square meters of production space, the plant in Delbrück is easily capable of manufacturing a second version of the sports car. It is possible to make up to 500 vehicles per year without compromising the extremely high quality standards the company has set for itself.
The McKinsey consulting company has conducted extensive research into the market for electric cars and published the results in its quarterly report in February 2011. The report said the potential customer demand for all-electric and hybrid vehicles with electric engines is currently as high as 16% in major metropolitan areas such as New York, Paris and Shanghai. Moreover, interest in buying such vehicles was independent of the availability of charging stations - and also independent of state subsidies or incentives.
The target groups interested in electric cars can be categorized as public institutions, companies that want to make a contribution to the environment and the so-called "early adopters," customers found primarily in large urban areas who are generally willing to spend more for technological innovations. As a rule, this target group owns at least one additional car, so any limitations in the potential range of electric cars would play a subordinate role.
Thanks to careful calculation, Artega is able to offer the exclusive SE at the attractive price of 150,000 euros. This price lies between that of existing first-generation sports cars and the anticipated price of mass-produced electric sports cars that have been announced by the major manufacturers.
The Artega SE is sure to enhance social acceptance of the sports cars of tomorrow. After all, it is a fine example of German engineering and will be manufactured "by hand" to meet the customer's individual wishes - just like its counterpart with a combustion engine, the Artega GT. The new German sports car from Delbrück in North Rhine-Westphalia is a one-of-a-kind vehicle. The small-scale manufacturing process makes it possible to incorporate numerous new technologies. The Artega - whether with a combustion engine or an electric motor - is a genuine innovation and sets itself apart from other vehicles.
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