The vehicle on display today is the SLRV developed by DLR, which is short for Safe Light Regional Vehicle. That in itself says it all: the goals are safety, lightness and to design an electrically powered vehicle for the city. For the drive system, a fuel cell with a range of 400 km was chosen, which is more than sufficient for urban transport. The vehicle is designed as a two-seater and impresses with its large open field of vision. With a tare weight of only 90 kg, the 3.5-meter-long vehicle is an absolute lightweight. Moreover, with an estimated purchase price of 15,000 euros in 2020, it is not in a completely utopian price range.
What makes the vehicle so light is the body made of sandwich composite panels, which were developed at DLR specifically for the project. These are metal foam composites with a top layer of steel or aluminum. This means that the top layers are only a few tenths of a millimeter thick and are bonded with thin foam mats. In most cases, the overall structure is only a few millimeters high and easily moldable. Complex curved geometries such as fenders or bumpers can therefore be formed despite the sandwich structure.
The Lightweighting Effect
This structure allows weight to be saved, but the crash properties and energy absorption of ductile metal sheets can be adopted, which represents a clear further development compared with known CFRP bodies for safe road use.
Furthermore, the drive train can also be reduced due to the low dead weight, which means that an 8.5 KW fuel cell with battery booster can be used for short periods of 25 kW and supply the vehicle with sufficient energy. A purely electric drive with a heavy battery would not be able to achieve such a high range with the same efficiency, since the battery is permanently carried along.