Continental is continuing to drive forward the expansion of electric mobility in China. At Auto Shanghai (April 16 to 25, 2019), the technology company will be presenting a range of established and production-ready drive systems and innovative electronic components extending from 48-volt mild hybrid applications and plug-in hybrid or full-hybrid solutions to high-voltage drive systems. At the same time, Continental Powertrain is investing heavily in new Chinese production sites in Tianjin and Changzhou.
Industry experts agree that China is at the forefront of the march towards e-mobility. The country ranks as the largest and fastest-growing market for this technology, particularly in the area of high-voltage solutions (all-electric vehicles). According to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), sales of New Energy Vehicles (including PHEV, BEV, FCEV) in China increased by 63 per cent in 2018, to a record level of 1,240,000 units.
“The Chinese market will continue to be of pivotal importance for the future development of electric mobility – and therefore also for Continental. We offer solutions for all electrification levels and across all vehicle segments which reduce CO2 emissions particularly in towns, but also provide modern and sustainable mobility for everyone,” said Andreas Wolf, head of Continental Powertrain.
“At Auto Shanghai 2019, we will be demonstrating how we are using our advanced electrification solutions to drive China’s future mobility and contribute to a clean world,” said Gregoire Cuny, head of China Market at Powertrain, when highlighting the powertrain areas of focus for the trade show.
Highly integrated axle drive system with first-class power-to-weight ratio
One cornerstone of Continental Powertrain’s e-mobility strategy is the highly integrated electric powertrain module for EVs. This module is suitable for use in everything from compact to luxury vehicles, with a particular focus on the volume-selling mid-range segment. The highly integrated axle drive system – maximum power 150 kW – boasts a first-class power-to-weight ratio and a compact, relatively lightweight design. This high-voltage drive system integrates the electric motor, transmission and power electronics into a single unit. The result is a system which is not only lighter but also more powerful than comparable concepts. Further advantages include high levels of driving pleasure and favourable costs, since the high degree of integration makes it possible to dispense with the cables and connectors required in the past.
Customers for this system include both international and Chinese car makers. In response to the high demand, Continental is expanding its production capacity for the integrated high-voltage drive system and in the second half of 2019 will also begin production in Tianjin, China. “Production in Tianjin is an important part of our strategy for achieving an optimal positioning in the Chinese market. At the same time, this production site is also important for other markets,” said Cuny.
Extensive portfolio of power electronics for a wide range of vehicle models
A further cornerstone of Continental’s e-mobility business is power electronics. Powertrain has been steadily expanding its operations in this field for more than 10 years and Continental has ambitious plans for the future: Starting some time in 2020, power electronics components will go into local production in Tianjin. These highly complex electronic systems can be used in a wide range of vehicles. Power electronics regulate power flows in the vehicle and also control the process of energy recuperation. They ensure that the full potential of the electric powertrain can be exploited, thereby maximising driving pleasure. A key advantage is that Continental can supply the electric motor and power electronics either individually or in combination. As a result, the company can offer flexible solutions that are customised to the client’s individual needs.
Leading the way on 48-volt technology
Continental Powertrain’s expertise in 48-volt technology is now set to make its mark in the Chinese market, too. Having been the first company to supply the 48-volt system in Europe, now Powertrain is taking things a step further. In Changzhou, China, in collaboration with its Chinese partner CALB (China Aviation Lithium Battery Technology Co., Ltd.), the joint venture will develop and produce 48-volt battery systems for the automotive industry. The battery cells will be supplied by CALB, while the battery management system including basic software is provided by Continental Powertrain. Thanks to the collaboration, Continental will supply a complete 48-volt system from a single source, comprising the motor, DC/DC control unit and 48V battery.
The energy-saving battery system solutions developed by Continental and CALB will help to reduce CO2 emissions and so meet consumer demand for energy-efficient vehicles all over the world. At the same time, a further goal is to put even more technically advanced battery systems into production by the end of 2021.
Intelligent thermal management supports electric mobility
Intelligent thermal management is taking on increasing importance for all types of vehicle, on account of its significant implications for efficiency, and therefore for key development goals such as reduced CO2 and pollutant emissions. In the case of EVs, intelligent thermal management also extends vehicle range – particularly at very low or high external temperatures. This is achieved by intelligent, energy-saving management of heating and cooling requirements. Toward the end of this year, in response to an initial major order, Continental will begin volume production of a system of this type for an EV in China.
At Auto Shanghai (April 16-25, 2019), Continental will exhibit a selection of its electric mobility portfolio to an international audience (hall 6.2, booth 6BF101).