To find a solution, a team of German researchers have recently begun developing an electric car with the latest weight saving and strength increasing materials and technologies available today to offer maximum protection without sacrificing weight. Known as the Visio.M, the car is built on a monocoque foundation similar to those found on race cars. Much lighter than steel and extremely strong, the monocoque chassis offers significant rigidity to improve handling and safety without adding excess weight. The passenger compartment is constructed from a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic designed for use in luxury sports cars and commercial aircraft, again intended to save weight while offering ample protection for occupants inside.
Powering the Visio.M is an asynchronous electric engine connected to a transmission system using lighter gears resting on hollow shafts, 15% lighter than a standard system. In using these weight saving materials and power train system, the vehicle's electric motor remains efficient, not having to propel an increased weight. Advanced safety features like adaptive seat-belts further increase on board protection for occupants. A prototype model has already passed preliminary chassis testing, and the vehicle's Electronic Stability Program in charge of anti-lock braking and torque vectoring has also performed well, allowing for continued development, moving closer towards a commercially available version.
A major obstacle still in the way of the project is cost, as much of the materials used to make the vehicle are wildly expensive. To bring such a vehicle into production for the public, the costs of production will need to drop significantly, lest the vehicle's benefits be made available only to the wealthiest buyers. To date, much of the problems surrounding electric vehicle sales are cost and efficiency; making a new vehicle with a tremendous sticker price would likely have little impact on overall sales.
For the German research project to be a success, a compromise will need to be reached between weight, safety, and cost. If the materials used in the Visio.M do not drop in cost, its designers will likely need to look elsewhere for weight saving materials, though they will likely come with a drop in safety. It may be the case that satisfying all three needs is impossible for electric vehicles, and buyers will need to find a vehicle that satisfies the ones most important to them. Again the wealthy will have the greatest chance to benefit from the technology, while most buyers will be left with the burden of either increased weight and decreased efficiency, or a vehicle offering lesser protection in the event of an accident.