Experts agree: China is leading the way in e-mobility. China is regarded as the largest and fastest growing market in this sector – especially with regard to pure electric vehicles with high-voltage drive. According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), sales of “new energy vehicles” (including PEV, BEV and fuel cell-powered electric vehicles) in China rose by 63% in 2018 to a record 1,240,000 vehicles.
An important component of Continental Powertrain’s e-mobility strategy is its highly integrated electric powertrain module. This module is designed for use in vehicles in the compact and luxury classes and, in particular, in the large numbers of mid-range vehicles. The axle drive is characterized by a high power density – maximum output 150 kW – and a compact and comparatively light design. The high-voltage drive combines the electric motor, gearbox and power electronics into a single unit. This makes it not only lighter, but also more powerful than comparable concepts, the company claims. Further advantages: It enables a favourable cost level, since the high level of integration eliminates the need for cables and plugs previously required.
Continental supplies international and Chinese automobile manufacturers with this system. The strong demand has led the Group to further expand its capacities and start series production of the integrated high-voltage drive in Tianjin, China, in the second half of 2019.
48V ecosystem gains traction in China
Another pillar of Continental’s e-mobility activities is power electronics. Continental is underpinning its ambitions with a new local production facility in Tianjin, which is scheduled to start in the course of 2020. The system can be used in a wide range of vehicle segments. It controls both the drive energy and the energy recovery (recuperation) and ensures that the potential of the electric drive is exploited to the full. As a decisive advantage, Continental is promoting the fact that the electric motor and power electronics can be supplied both separately and as a unit. This enables the manufacturer to offer flexible solutions tailored to customer needs.
The 48V technology, which plays a major role in Continental’s strategy, is also set to succeed in China: In Changzhou, a joint venture with its Chinese partner CALB (China Aviation Lithium Battery Technology Co., Ltd.) is bringing 48V systems for the automotive industry onto the market. The battery cells will be supplied by CALB, while Continental Powertrain will provide the battery management system including the basic software. Thanks to this cooperation, Continental is able to offer a complete 48V system from a single source – with motor, DC/DC control unit and 48V battery.
Continental and CALB are thus developing energy-saving solutions for battery systems that can reduce CO2 emissions to meet the demand for energy-efficient vehicles from consumers around the world. A further goal is to start production of technically advanced battery systems by the end of 2021.