In June 2018, the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer purchased a 10% stake in Rimac. Porsche is now strengthening the established partnership. The Croatian company develops and produces electromobility components and also produces electrically powered super sports cars in-house. Porsche initiated a development partnership with Rimac against the back-drop of its electric mobility campaign.
“Porsche has been supporting Rimac and its positive development for a year now,” explains Lutz Meschke, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche AG and Member of the Executive Board responsible for Finance and IT. “We quickly realised that Porsche and Rimac can learn a lot from each other. We believe in what Mate Rimac and his company have to offer, which is why we have now increased our stake and intend to intensify our collaboration in the field of battery technology.”
Founder Mate Rimac (pictured) started developing his vision of a fast, electrically powered sports car in a garage in 2009. Rimac unveiled his most recent electric car, the C Two, at the Geneva International Motor Show in March 2018. The two-seater vehicle generates almost 2,000 PS and reaches a top speed of 412 kilometres per hour. It boasts a range of 650 kilometres (NEDC) and can recharge 80% of its full battery capacity within half an hour thanks to a 250 kW fast charging system. The company also develops and produces high-performance electric drives and battery systems.
“Gaining Porsche as a stakeholder was one of the most important milestones in our history. The fact that Porsche is now increasing its stake is the best form of confirmation for our collaboration and represents the foundation for an even closer relationship,” Managing Director Mate Rimac explained. “We are only at the start of our partnership – yet we have already met our high expectations. We have many collaborative ideas that we aim to bring to life in the future. The fundamental focus is creating a win-win situation for both partners and offering our end customers added value by developing exciting, electrified models.”
The rapidly growing company based in Zagreb employs a workforce of around 550. Rimac focusses on battery technology within the high-voltage segment, electric powertrains and developing digital interfaces between humans and machines (HMI). The company also develops and produces electric bikes. This strand of the business was established in 2013 in the form of the sister company Greyp Bikes.
The project was authorised by the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office, with funding provided by the High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation (HPC4EI) program.
PPG will collaborate with DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to develop computer-based models of the ageing characteristics of a variety of next-generation adhesives designed to join lightweight materials. Vehicle manufacturers are exploring the use of high-strength steel, aluminium, magnesium, carbon-fibre composites and other lightweight materials to reduce vehicle mass and improve fuel economy. This approach requires new adhesive chemistries that will mitigate corrosion and thermal expansion issues associated with joining dissimilar materials.
“It is critical to understand how adhesive bonds evolve over the life of a vehicle,” said Peter Votruba-Drzal, PPG global technical director, automotive OEM coatings. “This knowledge has traditionally come through iterative formulation and testing, including lengthy exposure tests. This project will enable us to reduce adhesives testing time by up to 75%, which in turn will help manufacturers accelerate their development of increasingly energy-efficient vehicles.”
The project will use supercomputing to achieve a fundamental understanding of the influence of water – a key determinant in the ageing process – on the chemistry and adhesion properties of adhesives joined to lightweight substrates. Supercomputing resources are necessary because of the extremely large data sets involved in each simulation.
PPG will provide $60,000 for the project in the form of technical activities at the company’s Global Coatings Innovation Center in Allison Park, Pa. The DOE will provide $300,000 to LLNL and PNNL for their modelling expertise and the use of their supercomputing resources.
PPG is a global leader in structural adhesive technology. The company’s CORABOND™ adhesives enable vehicle manufacturers to achieve significant cost and weight savings while addressing a wide range of design considerations and manufacturing process requirements.
The HPC4EI program is funded by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewables and the Fossil Energy Office. It uses world-class DOE capabilities in high performance computing to help industry improve manufacturing processes and product and materials development to reduce national energy consumption. Some 40 U.S. companies have engaged this program for more than 80 projects, increasing competitiveness and reducing energy usage. High performance computers enable increased accuracy of engineering and science simulations, provide for faster optimisation and enhance data analytics.
Thanks to their unidirectional carbon fibre optics and a high-quality surface offered by the polycarbonate matrix, Maezio™ continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites from Covestro bring a new tool to automotive designers’ toolbox for designing unique appearances. One case in point: they have given the ES8 and ES6, the all-electric SUVs from Chinese Electric Vehicle startup NIO, a boost on the wheels. At the K 2019 plastics trade fair from October 16-23 in Düsseldorf Covestro will present wheel blades made from this material.
New aesthetic, improved aerodynamics
The wheels feature aluminium rims with opt-in carbon fibre blade inserts, designed to lend the vehicle a high-end aesthetic appeal with a lightweight flavour and improved aerodynamics. What Maezio™ composites bring to the table is a combination of a unique appearance with unidirectional carbon fibre optics and a wide variety of finishing options. Further information on these products can be found here.
“Maezio™ composites are a very unique material because they kind of redefine how beauty is associated with carbon fibres,” says Yanbing Wang, Senior CMF designer from NIO. “They have set a new aesthetic direction with the unidirectional strands of fibres that remind me of the flowing shapes of rocks within the Antelope Canyon. It feels dynamic and full of energy.”
To achieve a high level of aesthetics, the choice of the resin system is crucial. Polycarbonates boast high surface quality and optical performance. Furthermore, polycarbonate-based composites are compatible with a wide range of coatings and decoration processes for designing unique surfaces. This makes it possible to develop a clear matt-coating system for the wheelblade that not only retains the beauty of the unidirectional fibres but also provides the needed protection – wheels are every vehicle’s touchpoints with the road, and as such, must perform flawlessly.
A technical breakthrough
Automotive exteriors exist in a harsh environment, and the requirements are demanding. Parts have to display high scratch-, weather-, ageing and chemical resistance properties. For wheel blades comes the additional requirement of high heat resistance during braking. So automotive exterior components not only have to look good after years of use but also perform on an everyday basis under tough conditions.
In combination with the coating system, the composite wheel blades have withstood rigorous safety and performance requirements, such as impact, chemical and weather resistance. The Makrolon® polycarbonate on which Maezio™ is based displays high thermal stability qualities so the wheel blade insert can survive braking-induced temperatures of up to 150° C.
A seamless integration
For composites to be widely adopted in automotive they also need to be easily integrated with other materials in a multi-material system. Because of their thermoplastic matrix system, Maezio™ composites can be easily joined with functional components during processing, e.g., through back injection moulding. In the case of the wheel blade inserts, they are joined with the aluminium spokes of the wheel through back-moulded screw bosses made of polycarbonates. The common resin material makes it easy and secure to bond the two parts.
A second life
Car manufacturers are under pressure to make their vehicles less environmentally impactful. Electric vehicles are ahead of the curve, and so it’s natural that EV manufacturers are on the lookout for materials that are easy to recover and recycle.
Maezio™ composites can be cut and remelted for reuse at the end of life, or reground into short fibre compounds and used in an injection moulding process, making them a sustainable material choice for EV manufacturers to further improve their sustainability scorecard.
“We have proved with this major breakthrough that Maezio™ composites are a technically and commercially viable material solution in automotive exterior applications,” says Lisa Ketelsen, head of the thermoplastic composite business of Covestro. “The end result is a newly defined aesthetic direction and benchmark for thermoplastic composites in automotive. We look forward to helping the automotive industry scale new heights with the benefits thermoplastic composites have to offer.”