Continental demos new generation of e-powertrains

June 12, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
At its TechShow event this week, automotive supplier Continental allowed a glimpse of what can be expected with the next generation of electric vehicles. The general trend is making these components more compact and more powerful.

Continental showed a new electric powertrain custom-made for the Chinese market. The prototype, showed in the public for the first time, combines motor, transmission (yes, electric vehicles do have a transmission albeit typically not a shift gearbox), and power electronics in a single package. Scalable from 60 to 120 kW, the powertrain can be designed into a broad spectrum of different vehicles including plug-in hybrids and high-performance battery electric vehicles.

At the same opportunity the company introduced a new generation of power electronics (inverter) units for hybrid and electric vehicles. The system controls the propulsion as well as energy recovery; as a key building block of electric drivetrains it is the component that determines the performance of the vehicle. Again, the design is smaller, lighter and more efficient, offering a six-fold increase in performance over the first generation.

Another highlight was the “48V Eco Drive”, a new hybrid drive system that easily can be integrated into a conventional vehicle, offering two beneficial functionalities: It enables the vehicle so “soar” – switching the transmission to idle if the topology permits or the traffic situation demands it and thus saving fuel. Continental claims that in urban traffic, this strategy can save as much as 21 % of fuel. This is one of the benefits of Continental’s eHorizon, a predictive traffic information system that determines traffic congestions and other obstacles already before they come into the driver’s field of view. eHorizon is the practical implementation of an approach Continental calls Connected Energy Management.

The 48V Eco Drive system also enables E-Boosting: During acceleration phases, the alternator can assume the function of an electric drive, effectively increasing the performance of the conventional engine in the vehicle. The 48V Eco Drive will enter series production as early as 2016.

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