As the Indian automotive industry is disrupted more and more, it needs to find innovative ways to combat the problems that are arising due to the transition phase. Continental, the world’s foremost technology solutions provider has been labouriously researching and developing intelligent solutions to ease the OEMs’ transitioning of vehicles to lower or zero emission applications. Be it ICE or BEV, Soorajith Radhakrishnan, Head of Powertrain solutions for Continental explains how the company is gearing up for both segments.
How does Continental help OEMs to become BS VI compliant.
Globally, Continental has been supporting OEMs in meeting stringent emission standards, such as Euro 6. In India, Continental is ready with the required technologies to support OEMs in meeting upcoming legislation by skipping BS V and advancing to BS V norms by 2020. We expect the compact car segment to accelerate towards gasoline engines, and with our state of the art offerings for MPI and DI engines, we are well positioned.
India is the second largest 2-wheeler market in the world, therefore seamless implementation of BS VI norms is vital in the segment. Continental foresees increased adoption of electronic fuel injection (EFI) and engine management system (EMS) technology in the 2-Wheeler space. The added advantages of these technologies apart from lowering the emissions are improved start-ability, better drivability and lower fuel consumption. We have a portfolio of next generation EMS to match market requirements
In the area of after-treatment, SCR and particulate filter adoptions will increase. The new standards require that after-treatment systems be enhanced by adding diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR), lean NOx trap (LNT) for diesel and efficient three way catalyst (TWC) and if required gasoline particulate filter for gasoline. To ensure a smooth migration and avoid multiple development loops and calibration, a platform approach (Continental’s Euro 6 compliant diesel systems, SCR systems, and gasoline systems) can offer a suitable alternative for vehicle manufacturers.
What are Continental’s contributions in the electromobility space?
Continental has begun production of the worldwide first 48 V Hybrid Drive: From the end of 2016, diesel variants of the Renault Scénic and Grand Scénic models were equipped with Continental's 48-Volt hybrid drive. The 48-volt mild hybrid system not only reduces fuel consumption (and therefore CO2 emissions) but can also achieve significant reductions in pollutant emissions from diesel engines. The electric motor, with a rated output of around 15 kW, not only allows braking energy to be recuperated and stored as electricity in a small lithium-ion battery but can also assist the internal combustion engine during short, sharp bursts of acceleration.
One of the other interesting technologies from Continental is Axle Drive which is a highly integrated electric drive system with inverter, electric machine and reducer. This type of technology gives an advantage to our customers when it comes to integration, sourcing and validation.
Innovative solutions for all-electric driving include the highly integrated electrical powertrain module. This can be installed in the compact and luxury vehicle classes, and in particular in the large quantities needed for mid-size vehicles. Thanks to its compactness, with an electric motor, transmission and power electronics combined to form a single unit, the high-voltage drive for all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids is not only lighter but also more powerful than comparable concepts. In addition, the costs are reduced by a high level of integration that removes the need for a cable and socket. The innovative drive achieves a high specific power output at 150 kW, with a mass of only 75 kg and offers engine power classes up to 300 kW. In doing so, Continental has made its drive system, which has been in production for several years already, significantly smaller and improved its performance. The new electric drive will be on the market in China in 2019.
How would these technologies help to counter the problem with BS VI grade fuel burning ineffectively?
Efficient combustion is a combination of good injection spray characteristics, spray control and engine parameters. Our new generation combustion systems like GDI, improve spray characteristics, and include other learning algorithms to improve combustion.
How do you plan to make these technologies cost-effective?
Continental, globally, is driven by the strategy “in the market, for the market”. We are present in the local market and extend our support to OEMs right from conceptualisation to production and support thereafter. Continental is localising the entire value chain, starting from marketing to R&D to design according to local customers’ requirements. In India, we are localising sourcing for optimised cost, which refers to local suppliers and mainly applies for raw materials and components. By taking the route of localisation, we have a strategic advantage of delivering technologies as per customer requirement at an optimised cost.
What impact will electrification have on the industry in general?
We strongly believe that the cars of the future will feature electric drives, which will be fully connected and automated. So, we are rapidly scaling up our R&D efforts. With changing trends we need to be robust in our approach. Our team is constantly working on innovative technologies that set new market standards.
The primary concerns still are range and costs. Eventually a consumer is looking for a mobility solution that is on par with a petrol or diesel vehicle – in terms of costs and mileage. Technologies need to be upgraded, and more investments are required for the same. One of the top priorities should be to set up infrastructure to support electric mobility, for easy charging of electric vehicles.
The traditional combustion engines will continue to grow beyond 2025 and we expect the market share for pure electric drive systems to achieve about 10 percent, and for hybrid drive systems of probably almost 30 percent. This concludes that the combustion engine is actually yet to have its peak. We do not expect to see a slow decline in volumes until after 2025. We could continue to implement technological advancements to attain more efficiency, for example with our ‘people’s hybrid’ for wide-ranging vehicle segments. The biggest challenge in the industry will be on a people front – how do we retool and reskill people to work in the new technologies of electrification.
With BEV, charging infrastructure is the need of the hour. What are some of the solutions that can be applied in this space?
Setting up the infrastructure to support electric mobility for easy charging of electric vehicles is a priority. For an EV driver, one of the biggest anxieties is the absence of charging infrastructure. The main fear is that such an absence can get them stranded on the road.
This can be remedied by technology that can make EVs fit for any type of charging. This is achieved by turning electric powertrain into ‘universal charger’ catering to all types of cable-based charging station. This helps in attaining maximum charge in a given power station. This type of technology is used by Continental in its AllCharge system.
The bidirectional system can open up whole new applications for the large amounts of energy stored in the vehicle battery. The system can always use the maximum output rate, up to 800V and up to 350 kW at all types of charging station – single-phase AC, three-phase AC or high-speed DC. With urban AC charging systems in particular, this can enable up to twelve times faster charging times. In addition, due to its capability to recuperate energy, the bidirectional system can supply electrical/electronic devices with electricity from the system, while on the go.
Another innovative solution would be inductive charging which is an automated wireless charging solution for EVs. Here, vehicles can be charged without cables with improved efficiency. Inductive charging solution includes vehicle positioning, electronic communication, charging management, safety monitoring and data retrieval. The charging power can be transferred wirelessly from a ground-based charging pad to a receiver pad on the underside of the vehicle. All the driver has to do is to park over the charging pad, assisted by an innovative micro-navigation solution. A human-machine interface shows the driver when the vehicle has reached the correct parking position and confirms that charging has started. As soon as the vehicle is correctly parked, the charging pad will transmit power. At a charging rate of 11 kW, every minute of charging time provides approximately one kilometer of driving range.
As companies are moving towards BS VI, is there still any need for electrification?
As I mentioned earlier, the traditional combustion engines are yet reach its peak while the electromobility will see wider popularity perhaps starting 2025. The primary reason for this is infrastructure availability for electromobility. Obviously a zero emission approach cannot work without moving into electrification. Moving to BS VI can only be seen as a step, and not the end. The electric vehicles market in India will grow gradually but it is always a positive approach for OEMs in India to start planning for the future.
What is the impact that electrification will have on safety systems?
With our systems and components, we protect human lives regardless of the market, drive technology or vehicle class. That’s why safety standards for electric vehicles will be every bit as high as those for vehicles with conventional engines.
Through our work it is evident that we are already well prepared for electric vehicles. Existing systems (eg recuperative brakes) in vehicles with internal combustion engines can also be transferred to electric vehicles. Due to the intensive energy recuperation, the use of foundation brakes is lessened. We also have new, weight-reduced wheel and brake designs. By using a corrosion-free, aluminum brake disc, rust formation is prevented as well as the potential resulting deterioration of brake performance in addition to wheel weight reduction. This is a benefit for EVs as reduced weight of the car improves performance.