An interview with Paul Newsome from Williams Advanced Engineering – Jaguar C-X75 technology and methodology

2018 Jonathan Musk

An interview with Paul Newsome. Feature: Jaguar C-X75 An incredible car that will never see the light of day as a production car. We take a look at how it came to be, what has been learnt and where Jaguar go next while talking to Paul Newsome from Williams Advanced Engineering.

WILLIAMS ADVANCED ENGINEERING / THE FUTURE CAT  While the Jaguar C-X75 may be disregarded as old news, the technology and methodology in it’s build and development are anything but. We speak to Paul Newsome from Williams Advanced Engineering about the Jag, hybrids and what the future holds.

After first meeting Paul Newsome at the MIA (Motorsport Industry Association) annual event at the Birmingham NEC, it gave a preview to his involvement in the Jaguar C-X75 project. The car is, as many of you will know, a remarkable feat of engineering and completely up-to-date state-of-the-art, even if Jaguar were to change their minds and actually build it again – and despite it being possibly regarded as an “old” concept now, too.

The particularly interesting thing about the project was that it was approached from a race team’s point of view, which was not something the people from Jaguar were either familiar or comfortable with says Paul.

So why did Jaguar approach Williams to help at all? The answer, as Paul puts it, is in what Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) are able to offer that nobody else can – in a word; technology.

Paul said,

“As a business, we directly promote our technology to other areas of motorsport and into automotive. It is largely people who have come to us and said, “we believe you’re doing something that could be of use to our industry”.”

He continued,

“Outside of automotive it’s just too big a thing to actually determine where we would target ourselves. It has led to us doing work and activities in so many different areas. The majority of that is in our hybrid system and energy storage areas which have been used elsewhere. Right now, that’s a very relevant subject.”

At least half of what WAE do, is about electric energy systems, storage, motors, inverters and other electrically related items. With the Jaguar C-X75 project, the initial stages were dominated by four clear targets which both Jaguar and WAE agreed upon together. The original Paris car which was shown in 2010 received such a great reception from both the attending public and media alike that Jaguar received firm orders from several individuals willing to part with “whatever it takes” to get their hands on one. The first target was therefore to ensure that the car looked the same. The second such target was that the car had to perform – at least as well as the then current benchmark, a Bugatti Veyron. However, the top speed was immediately ruled out as it was deemed “unnecessary”, whereas the acceleration on the other hand was “useful”.

The third objective was to have a CO2 level the same as that of a Toyota Prius. Why a Prius? Because it was a hybrid car that produced a low emissions figure of under 80g/km CO2. Presumably, higher than that would have made things too easy.

The final target was to match the electric only range of the Chevrolet Volt/Vauxhall Ampera. This was chosen as the range was sufficient enough to cross any of the world’s major cities in electric only mode, therefore producing zero emissions at the point of exhaust.

These four main targets were set as it was perfectly possible to buy four cars that met the criteria, but impossible to buy one that had the qualities of all four. How WAE and Jaguar managed to achieve each of these objectives was totally up to them, but they ultimately defined the project.

Starting with the concept car, WAE immediately began working on the abnormal drivetrain. Four electric motors were combined with twin turbines that produced the electricity. It worked, but not well enough. Essentially, it was emissions that foiled this setup. The twin-turbines when hot ran beautifully clean, producing precious little CO2.

However, when cold – as they often are when starting the engine – their emissions were awful and way above the previously set target of 80g/km. Paul explained, “Electric motors have a peak output and they have a continuous one. The gas turbines provide energy at the average usage and not at the peak usage. The second issue was that gas turbines are incredibly clean when up to temperature and operating and not at all good during startup. As such, there were huge concerns as to how the car would meet emissions legislation. An internal combustion engine has the same problem, they’re very clean when warm but not so when they’re cool. However, it is easy to add catalysts to exhausts on internal combustion engines whereas on twin gas turbines it is not feasible since it creates huge amounts of back pressure and destroys the efficiency. Put simply, it wasn’t going to work. It may work in the future, but the technology wasn’t going to be there in the time scale for the C-X75.”

WAE had to rethink the whole drivetrain which was not an easy task considering the constraints of the original concept’s design also had to be adhered to.

They then tried a series hybrid, meaning a hybrid which is always powered electrically at the wheels, but with a conventional petrol/diesel unit to power the motors/provide the energy.

“We could never make a series hybrid work. You’re always carrying excess battery capacity, excess mass because you have two power sources. You need to deliver the ultimate performance to be able to use the electric and the more traditional carbon fuel based power together. You have to be able to combine them. It was at that point that the balance between how much electric power and how much mechanical power would be needed to deliver the requirements.”

Eventually, WAE settled for using a 1.6 litre petrol unit, which was chosen as it had the same cubic capacity as a Toyota Prius.

Was the engine developed exclusively for the Jaguar C-X75?

“Yes” says Paul, “Originally, the first announcement of the 1.6 litre regulations for Formula One was for four cylinders and it changed to V6. Four cylinders for a 1.6 litre engine is more efficient than the V6. You end up with pretty much the optimum cubic capacity per cylinder with the four cylinder which you don’t with the V6; at 1.6 litres. For the Jaguar C-X75, Formula One didn’t dictate the capacity, the 1.6 engine size was purely coincidental and was the most efficient and relevant solution, in automotive terms, but not necessarily motorsport.”

Despite the relatively small capacity, the engine was anything but ordinary.

“The design of the engine was to achieve the very high power output: 313PS per litre. It’s way beyond anything currently out there in automotive terms, 200 is about the limit today. It revved to 10,300rpm which was pretty extreme and it was boosted to 2.2Bar to achieve that power output from the engine. Then, because you’re using a very large turbo charger which has inherent issues in the tractability of the low end performance, WAE also fitted a supercharger which operates up to 5,500rpm and then clutches out. Then there’s the electric motors as well which provide fantastic transient instantaneous torque. The combination of these things is an incredibly tractable car. People were getting out of the car and saying, “I can’t believe it’s only 1.6 litres.”

The car has all of the feeling of a huge capacity engine thanks to the supercharger and electric motors, yet it only has a 1.6. It is probably the most complex technical vehicle around.”

However, all that performance comes at a cost, and in the petrol engine world, that cost is primarily heat. Heat is the enemy of the fossil fuel powered engine and engineers need to take great precautions as to how to dissipate it safely and effectively. With near 1,000 degree temperatures at the exhaust and batteries sandwiched between a longitudinal fuel tank, with hundreds of volts coursing through their wires, safety was surely a top priority. Paul’s response to this was remarkably casual,

“The fuel tank being located down the tunnel of the car between the two occupants is actually one of the safest places to put it. It’s as far from all of the potential crash impingement points as you can get and it’s completely surrounded by the safety cage structure. It’s location came as the result of needing to move it from the conventional place, forward of the rear wheels, since this is where the batteries were going to go. Since there was no prop shaft to the front wheels, due to them being driven by electric motors, there was plenty of space in the tunnel.”

He continued,

“More significant issues were the high voltage though of course hybrid high voltage systems have been operating in vehicles for 20 or so years and as such this is fairly well understood. All crash and crush zones are outboard of the electric and high voltage systems. There is an established methodology with regards to the creation of hybrid vehicles that incorporates all the safety aspects of both component design, positioning within the vehicle and safety of the people working on the cars.”

Moving slightly off topic and onto the subject of hybrids in general, Paul added,

“I don’t believe hybrids are any less safe than a conventional internal combustion engine car, when they are built and developed to standards. There is an added element of high voltage but you could argue that an all electric vehicle is safer still, as it doesn’t have a fuel tank. Hybrids are well proven now with hundreds of thousands of cars out in the market already but there is the extra element of high voltage that needs to be recognised.”

In the case of the Jaguar C-X75, heat management is more of an issue than the electrics. The solution was to move the heat away as best they could. Not only was the heat a problem for the car’s carbon fibre structure, but it was also a concern for the batteries too. When looking at the side of the C-X75, one of the most noticeable features are the side vents to the rear of the side windows. One of them even warns of extreme heat. The principle was simply to allow air to pass through these vents when the car was travelling forwards, this gave the exhaust a much needed breath of fresh air and reduced exhaust temperatures dramatically. While this was ideal for when moving forwards, it was less so for those occasions when the car is stopped.

On the one hand, the solution is simple, to turn the engine off altogether and use the EV only mode. However, that would defeat the purpose of having a hybrid hypercar and so cooling fans and heat’s natural desire to rise were used with the same side vents, thus allowing heat to escape.

Essentially, the heat was never trapped in the first place. With regards to the safety of the batteries, WAE developed an advanced battery case material that can survive direct 1,000 degree flame for up to five minutes. While that doesn’t sound all that much, it makes the difference of being able to exit a vehicle or not. It was this same material that has been used in the Formula E cars, for which WAE provided the development, expertise and creation of the battery packs. The work on the Jaguar C-X75 allowed WAE to build up a huge amount of knowledge regarding battery cell structures and encasement, as well as their heat management too. To say they are at the cutting edge doesn’t quite do them justice.

The size of the battery in the C-X75 was dictated by the power requirements because they had just short of 400 horsepower of electric motors on the car. The EV only range for the car was achieved almost by default, despite it being a hybrid vehicle battery rather than an EV vehicle battery. The capacity and range of most hybrid vehicles is far lower than the C-X75 which manages to obtain an EV only range similar to that achievable in most E-REV’s, like the original target vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt. Its capacity is approximately 21kWh, similar to that which you might find in a Nissan LEAF EV, and it weighs about 260 kilos.

It was because of this large mass that the battery was located directly on the centre of gravity of the car. Paul added,

“We believed people would want to operate the car purely electrically and performance is still very good, with a top speed of around 165mph and 0-60 in around six seconds.” The first car was completed in August 2012 and journalist demonstrations took place as soon as July 2013. Between those dates, the remaining four vehicles were built and many developmental updates applied. These included several iterations of the electric motors, engine and gearbox. Being used to prototype cars, Paul remarked on how it was better than he expected it to be. Only a month after building the first two cars there was a private demonstration for Jaguar representatives, which is an incredibly short space of time between the first drive and subsequent demonstrations – the development team were that confident with their creation.

So what was it like to drive the car for the first time? Paul responded,

“The drive of the first vehicle was brutal and raw. Fast! And still needed quite a lot of work. One of the nicest experiences is to drive the car purely electrically. Performance is still very good. It’s quiet, smooth and very capable indeed.”

As project lead of the C-X75 project, Paul Newsome was in charge of around 50 people, a mix of both Jaguar and Williams employees. Jaguar didn’t exactly out source the project as such, it was instead more of a collaborative piece of work.

Generally, people worked where you might have expected them to. For example, the head of aerodynamics was a Williams employee, whereas the head of interior trim was from Jaguar. Although an extreme example, it goes to show the benefit of collaborating with a racing team. WAE employs six times the number of aerodynamicists than Jaguar do, and where Williams tend to only work on one car, the Jaguar employees are employed to work on the entire vehicle range.

One of the compliments WAE earned from Jaguar, was that everyone who worked on the project came together so well as a team to the extent it was hard to tell which were from Jaguar and which were from WAE.

The C-X75’s design and build took place at Williams’ headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire and those from Jaguar moved there to work.

“They evolved into an incredibly cohesive team who were able to start the project in May 2011 yet the first engine was running by Christmas the same year. The first car was running by the end of the following year, which is an incredibly short timescale for a completely new car.

The only components that were borrowed from preexisting technology were the 12 Volt system, which ran things like the headlights and satellite navigation.” Added Paul.

The cars were built like a Formula One car, which in automotive terms is completely different to a mass produced machine. Paul commented,

“In general manufacturing, almost all components are installed on a line sequence with people dedicated to individual parts which they attach to the car as it moves down the line. The C-X75 was put together in what are known as ‘race bays’ where they were built on a stand. Only about four technicians build an individual car and are responsible for the fitting of all components to that particular car. They are then assigned to that vehicle for the cars’ operational life. This is exactly the way in which Formula One operates whereas manufacturing tends to have different teams for each progression of the process. Of course, you cannot build tens of thousands of cars in this manner but since the car was only ever destined for small production numbers this was never an issue.”

With all this experience gained in producing a world class hybrid, the obvious question was where would WAE go next with the technology.

“Electric flywheel first went into the 911 GT3 991.2 hybrid which was a development car only since at the time no regulations concerning hybrids existed. The technology has since been used by Audi for their LMP cars racing at and winning Le Mans 24 hours. More recently, there are current London bus trials on-going which use the technology which has directly been influenced by the Jaguar C-X75. Ultimately, Formula E batteries were created in turn and are the latest incarnation of Williams Advanced Engineering’s electrical development since the C-X75. The use of flywheel technology has progressed too with them being far more able to ‘deep cycle’ than lithium-ion batteries. In constant use situations such as commercial vehicles, it gives a significant advantage over the use of battery driven options.” Said Paul.

William’s flywheel needs no mechanical attachment so is able to act in a similar capacity to that which a battery would usually be used. However, it is not good at storing large amounts of energy whereas a battery can. In the current London bus trials, fuel savings have shown an improvement of up to 20%. Williams have therefore followed both technologies, battery and flywheel and applied the two to different relevant situations.

Examples are the Isle’s of Eigg (pronounced Egg apparently) and Fairisle in Scotland where flywheel technology is being used in order to balance out power from their renewable resources which include wind and hydro. By their very nature, their energy outputs are sporadic. The flywheel system is used to flatten the power output so that, when there is an abundance of energy, it is put into the flywheel. The energy is then stored until such time as the wind and rain stops and is needed again. The deep-cycle nature of the flywheel is proving ideal for this very purpose. Not only that, but the flywheels are lower maintenance than battery systems and as WAE see it, there are plenty of micro-grids around the world that could benefit from this application of flywheel technology.

Would a flywheel work with a pure electric vehicle though? In short, most likely not.

“However, if it were solely a performance electric vehicle then it might be possible to output a large amount of energy in a very short space of time, for example on a drag strip.”

Comments Paul, continuing,

“I can anticipate there would be benefit of a pure electric vehicle with a flywheel on it, but it would have to be supplemented by a battery.”

Which of the emerging technologies would Paul put his money on, I ask?

“Williams does their level best to be technology agnostic and watches everything. Lithium-ion hybrids are probably the best bet for the medium to long term timescale.

Charging points are appearing rapidly, but they’re not there yet. I think some of the other alternatives have less overall potential which largely comes from lack of infrastructure and lack of customer enthusiasm to move forwards. Plugin lithium-ion hybrid vehicles are already here, safety issues are already understood and the potential for growth is very high.”

Williams Advanced Engineering will be opening their brand new state of the art building at their headquarters in Grove on the 11th July 2014. The new building will house the research and development that WAE conduct and with it, likely bring along new technologies that nobody has though of yet. For a company to stay at the cutting edge as long as Williams has managed to do, is no small task and one which they have repeatedly managed as the Jaguar C-X75 project shows.

Unfortunately, as we all know, Jaguar pulled the plug on the C-X75 project yet all is not lost. The development and learning’s will go on to influence many cars that both Williams and Jaguar are part of; the most recent example being that of the Formula E car which WAE provided all 40 batteries for each of the cars.

You can still see the Jaguar C-X75 being displayed at various shows and events around the country, as it is still used as a marketing tool to showcase the pioneering technology housed within. It is likely that several of the cars will eventually make their way to being sold, with others making their way into museums and Jaguar’s own heritage collection at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon Warwickshire.

MAIN IMAGE Jaguar’s hybrid C-X75 strikes an imposing image.

SIDE VENTS Note the exhausts to the rear of the side windows, which are designed to allow cool air in while moving, then hot air out when stopped.

MAIN On track, the C-X75 accelerates like a Bugatti Veyron yet handles like a much lighter car.

ABOVE, FROM TOP Plush interior cossets a driver and passenger but no room for luggage. The steering wheel is all race car. 1.6 litre four cylinder turbo and super charged petrol engine.

ABOVE A real rarity unlikely to be seen again, three of the five C-X75’s built.

BURNING RUBBER “The drive of the first vehicle was brutal and raw. Fast!”

PAUL NEWSOME Standing amongst Williams memorabilia and past F1 cars at Williams’ Oxfordshire HQ.

LEFT Used to average out power, flywheels can be used to great effect with micro-grids.

FLYWHEEL SYSTEMS On the Scottish Isle of Eigg and Fairisle, WAE’s flywheels compliment the wind and hydro power.

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