Higher supply voltage, better mileage: Continental, Schaeffler show how

March 18, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In a joint project, automotive suppliers Continental and Schaeffler prove that there is still significant headroom for better fuel efficiency in conventional combustion engines. For their demo car they used an engine that already had been honoured for its excellent efficiency - and still achieved a 15 % increase in mileage.

The 'Gasoline Technology Car' (GTC), developed by automotive electronics supplier Continental and mechatronics expert company Schaeffler AG, will be demonstrated at the Vienna Motor Symposium in May. The companies succeeded in reducing fuel consumption as well as CO2 emissions by 15 percent. For their project, the development partners - Schaeffler is by the way Continental's largest shareholder - deliberately chose a vehicle whose motor already had received an award as "Engine of the Year 2012" for its excellent fuel efficiency.

Continental declined to provide details as the vehicle will only be introduced to the public at the Vienna symposium on May 8-9. EE Times Europe however learned that it is a downsized three-cylinder gasoline engine from carmaker Ford. In further reducing the fuel consumption, the engineers heavily utilised the second voltage supply level of 48V which a couple of years ago has been agreed upon by a number of carmakers but so far is not commonplace in volume vehicles. This second voltage level supports electrification of ancillary components to a larger extent than today's 12V systems. In addition, the designers generously deployed sensors in the powertrain and even in the exhaust pipe, and connected the electronic controls to a bigger extend than usual in today's series vehicles. The design measures focused on a very sophisticated fuel injection system and a holistic optimisation of the operating strategies. Plus, an electric clutch replaced the conventional one. "The GTC's strength results from our holistic approach", explained José Avila who heads Continental's Powertrain Division. "For this reason, the electrification at 48V and its intelligent utilisation is on equal footing with mechanical measures when it comes to further developing the conventional powertrain."

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