Busy people are normally very quiet. Take Rivian, for example. They have only started talking when they had something to show. This is pretty much what has also happened to the Toroidion team, involved in developing its first car. Yes, it is alive and kicking! We have lots of news about it, especially on what promises to make it a revolution in EVs: its 48V electric system.
Pasi Pennanen, Toroidion’s CEO, defends its car will not only be one of the lightest and more powerful EVs on the market. He claims it will also be safest by a large margin and has strong arguments to say that.
“As you know, the human skin works as an insulator for low voltages. To penetrate the skin insulation, electrical current requires high voltage,” said Pennanen. He is not talking just about 400V most current EVs present. Nor of 800V, which the future Porsche Taycan will work with.
If you have 230V, that is more than enough for serious damages. That happens because the human skin works as electrical resistance. The higher the voltage, the lower the resistance the human skin offers.
At 230V, it is said to fall to around 1,500 ohms. According to Ohm’s Law, that is enough to generate 0.15 A of current. It may seem low, but most of us do not have control of our muscles anymore when exposed to it.
The video below explains that in a precise way.
“Do you realize that if there is a chain reaction accident on road, and there is one conventional EV, with a typical 400V powertrain and voltage leak, all passengers in all those cars are at risk of a lethal electric shock?” said Toroidion’s CEO.
This aspect of safety is hardly an issue addressed by current EV producers, which present higher voltages as a clever way to speed up charging. Pennanen disputes that.
“Charging speed is about the cells' specs, the battery pack's architecture, cooling, and layout efficiency to mention a few. A lot of misleading information is distributed by big OEMs trying to sell their solution for the buying audience.”
According to Toroidion’s CEO, the biggest problem is that everyone is using basically the same components, such as 18650 cells and their 3.7V nominal capacity.
“It’s about how you arrange them to achieve the best performance and efficiency. High voltage is achieved by connecting more cells in serial. Energy efficiency remains better in recharging when the voltage is lower, whereas higher voltages present losses in efficiency.”
And he explains that. “A 100 cells example creates a 370V nominal voltage battery pack, so internal resistance increases and the temperature of cells in the middle also increases. And it can not cool down without a complex cooling system.”
This is why the 48V solution Toroidion has found is better, in his opinion. “The low voltage battery pack layout is totally the opposite. The internal resistance remains low due to fewer cells in serial and only marginal temperature differences occur between these few cells.”
Pennanen claims the 1MW is now the test bed that proved it is possible to have an “electrically safe 48V – no risk of a lethal electric shock, never ever – electric powertrain” to generate 1,341 hp and keep phase current below 210A.
How did Toroidion do that? With new technology, obviously confidential. “And mostly self-financed, which is somewhat challenging.” Toroidion says it has raised about €1.5 million – $1.68 million – in equity and €300,000 in research and development loans.
Pennanen also expects to make money with other clients. “We also have various customer cases for the powertrain, in much larger volume than with our own product. For land, air, and marine applications.”
Expect to see new battery packs and solutions when the first car is put for sale in 2020. “The sports car styling is a heavily improved and refined version of the 1MW Concept, with a 1 to 1 power-weight ratio. It will start from €265,000 and we plan to produce 75 every year.”
The production vehicle will be named Toroidion 1070, another reference to power. Only in hp. In fact, it will have 1,072 hp (or 1,088 ps) with its 800 kW powertrain. “We currently have 40 customers in line waiting to test-drive our sports car to finalize their purchase decision. People can now reserve an early chassis number by contacting our sales department and paying a refundable reservation fee,” said Pennanen.
The reservation fee demands €15,000, or 5.6 percent of the total price of the Toroidion 1070. Unfortunately, the weight has increased and torque is a lot lower than expected. Toroidion’s CEO has a candid explanation for that.
“Back in 2015, we didn’t have any test bench hardware to have actual measurements from the technical prototype car 1MW Concept. So we traced back into one unfortunate Excel calculation which had a decimal point error.”
That means the revised 1MW concept now weighs 1,049 kg and has a total torque of 3,008 lb-ft (4,080 Nm) since it now uses four 268 hp (200 kW) motors with 752 lb-ft (1,020 Nm).
We said “first car” because there are plans for two of them. Pennanen names the 1070 a sports car. We would call it a supercar, quite frankly. Toroidion will also build what he calls a supercar, with a €980,000 price tag and “more extreme performance figures”. A hypercar, if you ask us.
“Typically, high power cells have less capacity and high capacity cells have less discharge power. Toroidion customers can swap at ease between a high capacity long-range battery pack and a high power battery pack, depending on the usage,” said Pennanen.
What about different weather conditions? Toroidion promises to have a solution for that too. “We have separate batteries for winter use and hot summer weather, so we don’t compromise like conventional EV manufacturers do. The Toroidion car with titanate chemistry can be weeks or months solidly frozen in arctic climate, and then warm-up, start and take you safely home. No other EV is able to do that without being continuously connected to an external power source.”
If the future owner of a Toroidion 1070 decides to stick with the regular battery pack, there are also some choices available, according to Pennanen.
“Due to the total system efficiency measured, our car is consuming energy below 10 kWh/100 km (209.4 MPGe) in harsh driving. So our standard 65 kWh battery pack gives an average range of 650 km (404 mi). If you’re daily traveling longer distances than that, we can provide a 100 kWh battery pack with a 1,000 km (621 mi) range.”
Toroidion made bold claims that it will be able to prove in 2020 if financing helps. If it doesn't, probably some years from that. But it clearly has a purpose. And purpose is what it takes to keep moving ahead. And kicking.