New BMW patent describes EVs that charge with speed bumps and potholes

Daniel Sims

Posts: 758   +29
Staff
Why it matters: Auto manufacturers continually look for innovative ways to charge electronic vehicles to increase their viability and range. The availability of EV charging stations is growing but still limited. Automaker BMW is the latest company to consider harvesting energy from car suspension systems.

Last month, BMW filed a patent for a system that helps charge electric vehicles when they drive over obstructions like speedbumps or potholes. The process uses a vehicle's sudden upward and downward wheel movements when driving over such objects.

Typically, when a car hits a pothole or speedbump, the suspension absorbs the energy from the vertical wheel motion, and then the dampeners dissipate it. According to BMW's patent, a generator containing a spinning wheel attached to the suspension system could instead store the energy the springs absorb and release. CarBuzz notes the process could charge an EV high-voltage traction battery or a 12V electrical battery.

The patent doesn't indicate which future BMW model could feature the system or if the method will ever come to fruition. Companies frequently file patents for devices that never reach the market.

The German automaker isn't the only company considering charging EVs with kinetic energy from bumps and dips in the road. Gig Energy is developing a system using the same fundamental concept. Its website advertises the energy savings it could bring to trucks, delivery vans, cars, and other vehicles. Audi also played with recovering energy from suspension systems years ago with eROT, but ultimately let the idea go.

Because EV charging stations aren't everywhere, companies are exploring various alternative methods. In June, Electreon announced plans for a one-mile trial road in Detroit that can wirelessly charge EVs. A system of coils underneath the street would connect to the power grid and charge vehicles depending on their speed, and wouldn't be dangerous to animals or people crossing the road.

Ideas like wireless charging roads or conserving suspension energy could extend an EV's range and save people energy, but they probably won't keep vehicles fully charged. Charging stations will likely remain the primary method for fueling EVs for the foreseeable future, and groups like Electrify America are working on expanding their reach.

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Alfatawi Mendel

Posts: 242   +376
I'd never need to charge my (hypothetical) EV, driving around my area. It's riddled with potholes, ramps, and sleeping policemen. In fact I'd probably be able to sell the recovered energy back to the national grid. At least it might offset the horrendous cost of the numerous drop-link and ball-joint repairs I've had to endure over the past few years.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 19,287   +8,433
"Charge you EV by hitting potholes and speed bumps"?

That's about the most asinine idea I've heard in a long, long, time.

So, not only is there a massive up charge buying a Beemer to begin with, but you're supposed to set about destroying its undercarriage by going out of your way to hit potholes and whatnot?.

I'll bet their service and parts departments CEOs are licking their chops hoping this patent gets approved, ASAP.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
It certainly can't be cheap ..... I wonder how long it will take to recover the costs ......
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,957   +7,004
So these new shocks required for this system are going to cost thousands each, as opposed to the $80 of current ones. This will somehow save energy.

Sounds like needless complexity being pushed in an attempt to cover up the single biggest issue with EVs: the batteries are far too small and the range too short.
 

Eldritch

Posts: 526   +990
Third world countries : UNLIMITED POWER!!!

On a serious note, is it really that innovative? The idea has existed and used for a long time in form of utilisation of break energy.
Also, not against progress but it really sounds like one of those $10 added costs for $2 dollar saving ideas. The initial costs plus maintenance will be multiple times of the little saving it offers.
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 2,910   +3,219
TechSpot Elite
It certainly can't be cheap ..... I wonder how long it will take to recover the costs ......
I would bet a lot less than some self-appointed experts are going to claim very soon.
I can tell you that.

Sounds like needless complexity being pushed in an attempt to cover up the single biggest issue with EVs: the batteries are far too small and the range too short.
I get 108 miles between charges. And "refuel" at home. Just how many people do you believe need more than that? Not to mention the 200 miles + that can be easily had with EVs aimed more as the primary vehicle.
 

ColdSoup

Posts: 130   +287
Just how many people do you believe need more than that? Not to mention the 200 miles + that can be easily had with EVs aimed more as the primary vehicle.

My guess is somewhere between a third and half of the population in the US and Canada, but almost nobody in Europe. There is a distinct lack of understanding of just how massive North America is and how much driving is a part of the culture. A typical road trip is more than one tank of gas, equating to 400-500 miles depending on vehicle. Several luxury vehicles are sold with tanks equipped for 500+ miles because there is demand for it.
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 2,910   +3,219
TechSpot Elite
My guess is somewhere between a third and half of the population in the US and Canada, but almost nobody in Europe. There is a distinct lack of understanding of just how massive North America is and how much driving is a part of the culture. A typical road trip is more than one tank of gas, equating to 400-500 miles depending on vehicle. Several luxury vehicles are sold with tanks equipped for 500+ miles because there is demand for it.

" This statistic shows the average number of miles driven per day in the United States per driver between 2001 and 2017. On average, American drivers today are moving their vehicles considerably less than they were sixteen years ago, but they still totaled an average of 25.9 miles per day."


Also. Less than 1% drive more than 100 miles per day.
 

VitalyT

Posts: 6,476   +7,346
A car needs only one source of renewable energy - a roof, made of high-efficiency solar panel. Optionally, same for the bonnet. The technology is already there, why not just use it? Instead, they try to invent something as stupid as this suspension regeneration.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 19,287   +8,433
Also, not against progress but it really sounds like one of those $10 added costs for $2 dollar saving ideas. The initial costs plus maintenance will be multiple times of the little saving it offers.
Dude, this is BMW we're talking about. Have you forgotten that cost of purchase, or ease of repair-ability, is no object?
 

captaincranky

Posts: 19,287   +8,433
T
That's a nice idea, but depends on how complicated the suspension will have to be
To complicated to be economical or easily serviceable.
Not efficient enough to be of any use.
Just right for anyone silly enough to buy an electric BMW
 

bobc4012

Posts: 161   +68
I'd never need to charge my (hypothetical) EV, driving around my area. It's riddled with potholes, ramps, and sleeping policemen. In fact I'd probably be able to sell the recovered energy back to the national grid. At least it might offset the horrendous cost of the numerous drop-link and ball-joint repairs I've had to endure over the past few years.
Sounds like you live in Pennsylvania!