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Batteries

Published on October 1st, 2018 | by Kyle Field

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Xing Mobility Is Leveraging Its Modular Batteries For Electric Vehicle Retrofits

October 1st, 2018 by  


As the curtain is pulled back, the inner workings are exposed. What once was a lobby, suitable for the average passer by to see is no longer, as the gears and wires, batteries and motors that bring the machines inside to life are exposed. In an instant, it became clear that Xing Mobility (think “ZING”) is anything but a battery company. Xing invited CleanTechnica to its headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, to chat with its top brass and to take a peak behind the curtain.

Fueled by innovation

Xing is a company that brings things to life. A company that energizes, powers, and tames the wild beast. In this case, in the back corner of the workshop that would be more at home in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein than in an automotive factory, lies the stripped bones of the beast that lives in a perpetual state of evolution.

She’s called ‘Miss R’ and is the third in a line of a revolutionary racing vehicles that started off, of all things, with an internal combustion engine. That’s not a topic we frequent around these parts but as it turns out, the original dino-powered race vehicle was quickly followed by her much faster electrified progeny.

Xing Mobility was founded as a racing company. Not long thereafter, Azizi Tucker came on board fresh off of a stint at none other than Tesla Motors, and as you might expect, he joined Xing with a bias towards electrified powertrains. His passion for electrified powertrains led to the second generation of its race car being fueled with electrons and propelled by a set of electric motors.

Change is the only constant

At Xing, change is the only constant. As it built up its second generation vehicle, the company designed a battery pack that was flexible, as it had to be to keep up with the ever-evolving designs at Xing. Change was the price of entry, as it’s in their blood. The same can be said of the powertrain, as Xing upgraded its design from an internal combustion-powered car to one powered by a much smaller and much more efficient electric motor.

The conversion filled the veins of the team at Xing Mobility with a passion for improvement which paired well with the skillful young engineers they staffed up with as Xing grew. In the mad scientist’s lab that is the Xing Mobility headquarters, it is clear that this passion continues to fuel them today. In one corner of the lab, a Xing engineer preps a battery pack for its own destruction as Xing continues to validate the safety of its industry-leading immersion cooling battery tech.

The core of Xing’s business model is indeed its battery modules, but Xing is not a battery company. It is a full service emobility company that has been hard at work defining the building blocks of electric vehicles. Imagine you’re a tractor company and you want to build electric tractors, but the company you normally buy motors and transmissions from doesn’t have any options for you, so you call up the team at Xing.

Xing Mobility is the realization of a dream that CEO Royce YC Hong and CTO Azizi Tucker shared. They met at a TEDx Taipei conference and their mutual angst to do, to create, to start seemed to have a carry-on effect that grew and grew until before they knew it, they were partnering to bring their dreams to life through Xing Mobility.

Sitting big and bold at the center of the Xing Mobility logo is an oversized X. They believe that the X is the crossroads. That’s where things meet up, where things are encountered. Where people meet and where symbiotic ideas are joined together. Xing is an intersection, a crossing. It’s the place where they are bringing together an impressive team of engineers that share a passion for building the next generation of electric vehicles.

Xing Mobility electric delivery van retrofit prototype. Image credit: Kyle Field

More than that, the company is creating, testing and making production ready all of the disparate parts of an electric powertrain. Xing knows electric powertrains. That’s what it does. The team specializes in solving problems, especially when those problems are related to powertrains, electric motors, battery control units, vehicle control units, and all the little bits and bytes that bring the total system to life.

Modular Batteries = Endless Configurations

At the core of its system is its battery modules which, as the name implies, are truly modular. It’s not just that they can bolt together, but that they were designed to be bolted together. It’s much like Lego in the sense that they were designed to literally stack on top of each other or to be bolted onto each other to form a battery pack.

The multi-layered, variable configuration battery packs that Xing builds utilize a revolutionary immersion cooling technology that takes a unique non-conductive fire resistant liquid developed by the chemistry geeks over at 3M to replace the aging Halon fire systems. The new solution, called Novec, is also great at dissipating heat and acts as a fire retardant.

Flexible Components

On top of the modular battery pack, Xing has built a set of electric vehicle components including its own homegrown torque vectoring gearbox that dynamically optimizes the power output to all wheels in the vehicle, which maximizes the amount of power expended that is actually translated into forward motion.

Xing has also built up competency in electric motors, battery management systems, cabling, and all of the other components that are required to retrofit or build up the powertrain of an electric vehicle from the ground up.

To validate its approach, Xing is, in addition to working with numerous partners on in-flight projects, retrofitting a delivery van of its own. The process is being performed to get more intimate, hands-on experience with retrofits to allow them to more rapidly deploy retrofit kits for specific platforms. Delivery vehicles, with their low mileage per day, low average speeds in urban environments, and high impact on urban air quality make for great targets to retrofit to electric.

Retrofitting internal combustion vehicles with electric vehicle battery and powertrain kits is a much more resource efficient method of converting fleets and privately owned vehicles to electric. Xing is working to capitalize on this simple fact with an early push into the retrofit space, leveraging its mastery of modular batteries and durable, high performing electric vehicle propulsion systems.

A Veritable Electric Vehicle Laboratory

In the single day I spent at Xing Mobility’s office and workshop in Taipei, Taiwan, the company was working on electrifying a concrete moving vehicle for the construction industry, an autonomous personal electric vehicle, new PCBs for its battery management system, an upgrade to its infamous electric supercar Miss R, and a variety of other projects.

From this long list of projects in progress, you might expect that it employs a team of dozens or hundreds of engineers, but the reality is that they are only a handful of highly motivated, highly trained engineers, pushing the envelope for what electric vehicles might be. What they can be. Xing Mobility has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the electric vehicle retrofit space and is leveraging Taiwan’s impressively diverse and localized supply chain to get there.

The Future

What immediately became clear when talking with Royce and Azizi about Xing Mobility is that Xing is not just a showy battery company, nor is it an electric supercar company. They aspire to do much more with the technologies they have built today as they continue to build competency in electric vehicle retrofits, one project at a time. 
 
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About the Author

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in BYD, SolarEdge, and Tesla.



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