Continental to close gap in hybrid solutions

July 05, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Continental announced a "technology kit" that closes the gap between today's marketable hybrid systems: While Low-end systems with relatively simple micro hybrid technology does not exploit the efficiency potential of hybrid technology, high-end systems with full hybrid approaches are not affordable. Continental plans to close this gap by introducing a technology kit that enables carmakers to hybridize their existing offerings in finely graded steps.

"Today, we see a gap between cost-effective 12V start-stop systems and much more sophisticated full hybrid systems operating at high voltages of typically 200 to 400V", says José Avila, general manager of Continental's Powertrain Division. As a response to this situation, Continental plans to introduce a second voltage level of 48V in the vehicles. This approach will enable designers to implement many functions which in mild hybrid systems today are implemented typically at 120V. The company showed a concept vehicle in which the 48V architecture was implemented along with all components. This 48V "EcoDrive" vehicle is equipped with a belt-driven 48V starter generator which replaces the conventional 12V generator, along with a belt tensioner, a 48V lithium-ion battery provided by the battery joint venture SK Continental E-motion and da DC/DC converter which hinges the 48V level to the 12V supply system.

The 48V system offers a number of advantages, including a faster and more silent engine start and a recuperation that is much more efficient even at low temperatures. This approach also supports fuel-saving driving styles such as sailing and coasting. Another advantage of the technology kit is that it can be integrated into existing car designs without the need to modify engine and transmission configurations.

The next higher level in terms of hybridization represents a plug-in-architecture also developed by Continental. Like the 48V approach, it enables carmakers to hybridize existing designs and reduce fuel consumption to 1.5 litres per 100 km (about 157 miles per gallon) according to currently used standard driving cycles. This hybridization level utilizes a synchronous motor with external excitation which creates a torque of 225 Nm. The concept has been enhanced by a jaw clutch and integrated into the rear axle of the original vehicle. This split-axle configuration offers a connectible four-wheel drive without permanent drag losses. This enabling the car to drive about 50km on electric energy which covers the daily driving profile of