Meet Wouter Jansen, also known as Lightyear’s Vehicle Performance Engineer. He sat down with us and explained what the Vehicle Performance Model is and how it works. Of course, if you cannot watch the interview, you can always read the transcript below.
Q — Who are you and what is your position within Lightyear?
My name is Wouter Jansen and I am the Modelling and Optimisation Track Lead at Lightyear.
Q — What does your job entail?
A: In modelling optimisation, we focus on the overall vehicle performance, and on the energy efficiency of a vehicle. Building a solar car is all about making the vehicle as efficient as possible, as well as maximising the solar yield that we can get from the sun.
Q — What tools or programs do you use to optimise the Lightyear One?
A: We use the VPM, or the Vehicle Performance Model. This is a digital additional version of the car, so that it captures the design and describes all the systems and processes that take place in the vehicle. We use it to see what eventually influences energy consumption.
Q — What do you look after, when optimising Lightyear One?
With the Vehicle Performance Model, we look mostly at aerodynamics models, that describe the aerodynamic drag. We also take into consideration the rolling resistance of the tyres and all the power train components, like motors, inverters, high voltage and low voltage battery, converters, solar panel, and more.
Q — What else do you use the VPM for?
We use the model to also simulate the behaviour of the vehicle. So, for instance, what would the range under certain conditions be, how many kilometres can we drive from the sun, etc. We also use it for more specific things, like what would the acceleration between 0 to 100 km be, how long does it take to charge the battery, do we have enough battery power, in motor torque and cooling capacity, to drive up a steep mountain pass, and so on.
Q — What makes the VPM a staple for the vehicle of the future?
We decided to focus more on efficiency and sustainability and becoming less independent of charging infrastructure. We use the Vehicle Performance Model to make the right decisions for these goals. Here at Lightyear, we decided to focus less on what I call the old automotive specs, like top speed, but to follow things that can help us achieve our mission.
Q — How do you make sure your model is accurate? What are the next steps, after using the VPM?
The only way to know for sure that the model is accurate and representative of the real car is to validate these models. So, for instance, we put the car in the wind tunnel to test and measure what the aerodynamic drag is, but also to measure how the aerodynamic drag depends on the vehicle’s speed or the level of side wind. The data is then fed back into the models.
Q — What is your creative process? Where do you usually start?
As an engineer, I really like to start with a clean sheet of paper. It allows you to come up with new, creative ideas; maybe unconventional ideas, as well. I like exploring what are the limits and how we can push technology, and I think that it’s the dream job of every engineer.
Q — Do you feel Lightyear gives you this freedom? What attracted you to this company?
Yes. I am very committed to Lightyear’s mission, because I believe that the climate crisis is the biggest challenge ahead of us. I really like to spend my time doing something useful and creating something inspiring for the future.
As we continue to be dedicated to our mission and to bring cutting-edge technology to our ambassadors and to the environment, we are on a constant lookout for new colleagues and people who share our dream. Check out our vacancies and join us in bringing clean mobility to everyone, everywhere.
About Lightyear’s technology
As our world moves to more sustainable energy sources, Lightyear is driving the development of clean mobility in the automotive industry. By enabling electric vehicles to be scalable for everyone, everywhere, we will accelerate the sustainability transition and have a positive impact.
Our technology is engineered to enable a clean future. Starting from scratch and using a holistic design approach we developed an ultra energy-efficient long-range solar car. Our technology redefines performance with what truly matters: efficiency.