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Demonstrator of the Interurban Vehicle (IUV). © DLR. Published under a Creative Commons “Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)” licence (cropping).

As part of the large-scale Next Generation Car (NGC) project, a total of 20 institutes of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are jointly developing technologies for road vehicles of the next generation but one. DLR has now presented an Interurban Vehicle (IUV), which aims to show what long-distance vehicles in the middle and upper classes could look like in the future. In addition to the IUV, there are two other vehicle concepts: The Urban Modular Vehicle (UMV) as a modular city car for private as well as commercial users, and the Safe Light Regional Vehicle (SLRV) for commuting, car sharing and as a feeder car.

The Interurban Vehicle is five metres long, two metres wide, has no B-pillar and seats five people. The omission of the centre pillar creates large door openings which, in combination with sliding doors that open in opposite directions, make getting in and out particularly easy. Autonomous driving functions not only relieve the burden on the driver, they also create new freedom in the design of the interior. As for the drive, fuel cell, battery and new approaches to energy management are combined, which should enable emission-free and comfortable driving over long distances of up to 1,000 kilometres. A lightweight vehicle structure is key to keeping energy consumption low and achieving a long range. The bodyshell of the IUV weighs only 250 kilograms, about a quarter less than is currently common in this vehicle segment. The electric motors with a total output of 136 kilowatts accelerate the IUV up to 180 km/h. The fuel cell is located in the front of the vehicle. The fuel cell is located in the front of the car, the battery in the rear; the 7.5-kilogram hydrogen tank is in the underbody. By cleverly combining different lightweight construction approaches, the IUV with energy storage units weighs less than 1,600 kilograms when empty. At the same time, it offers a very high standard of safety.

“For the project,” says project manager Sebastian Vohrer from the DLR Institute of Vehicle Concepts in Stuttgart, “we built the IUV as a rollable body demonstrator. This demonstrator gives a first impression of how the vehicle could look in practice. At the same time, with the help of the demonstrator, we were able to better develop central components and technologies, measure them on test benches and test them. It also shows which aspects we can further develop and realise in the future with partners from industry and research.” Wherever possible, the DLR researchers have also worked with functional integration – another lightweight construction approach: “Structures fulfil several functions here, for example the floor structure not only carries all the vehicle’s superstructures, but also conducts electricity or data at the same time. This means that it is possible to partially dispense with additional cable lines and thus further reduce overall weight,” explains Vohrer.

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