Wednesday, 13 April 2022 12:21

Low voltage, high efficiency

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Environmental protection sets the direction for the development of the automotive industry. At this year's IAA 2019 international motor show, which will be held in Frankfurt am Main on September 12-22, Continental will be presenting a 48-volt drive system with a high power output of up to 30 kW

. With the introduction of this breakthrough technology, hybrid vehicles will only be able to run on electricity.

Until now, a fully hybrid vehicle with 48 volt technology was considered impossible. In order for such a vehicle to be powered solely by electricity, the electric part of the drive would have to use high voltage technology up to 800 volts. And yet, Continental engineers have developed a 48-volt, high-power driveline with characteristics similar to a high-voltage electric drive. This breakthrough technology consists of an electric motor, an integrated electric power unit and a battery. The system reduces fuel consumption and therefore CO2 emissions by around 20% compared to similar vehicles with internal combustion engines. At the same time, the new technology developed by the tire manufacturer and supplier of automotive solutions is much cheaper than the high-voltage systems used so far.


Same space, double performance

48-volt systems are referred to as mild or P0 hybrids. Their installation requires a low-invasive electrification of the drive train. Fuel consumption is reduced mainly due to the operation of the internal combustion engine under dynamic acceleration and the recovery of excess kinetic energy during deceleration. However, since purely electric driving is not possible with the systems previously used by many automotive manufacturers, the 48-volt system has been positioned within the driveline. Thus, the electric motor is not mounted upstream of the internal combustion engine on the crankshaft, but downstream between the internal combustion engine and the gearbox (P2 system). The applied solution translates into an increase in fuel economy. Thanks to it, in certain situations, such as driving on sections with a speed limit of 30 km / h, it is possible to drive the vehicle solely with the electric motor.


Thanks to the new 48-volt high-power technology, the hybrid system offers the same functions as previous full hybrid vehicles. The key element here is the new, water-cooled electric motor, whose peak power has doubled to 30 kW compared to the current motor. As a result, purely electric driving is possible at speeds ranging from 80 to 90 km / h. The producers managed to achieve a power increase of as much as 100% with the same engine diameter. Overall, the installation of Continental's high-power 48 volt technology requires only more space than the previous system. The difference in weight is also minimal.

The electric motor is not the only new feature of high-powered 48-volt technology. The integrated electric power pack also uses a new Continental solution that allows it to cope with higher currents. The innovations in the new 48-volt high-power technology provide a level of electrical efficiency that outperforms the previous system by nearly 10%. When recovering excess kinetic energy, this solution is much more effective as electric drive losses are reduced by 50%.


Taking full advantage of the available technological possibilities

The 48-volt high-power technology provides all the benefits of a typical high-voltage full hybrid vehicle significantly lower fuel consumption, reduced CO2 emissions and at the same time optimal driving performance. Another argument in favor of the new hybrid solution from Continental is its relatively low cost. This is the key to increasing the availability of low-cost hybrid vehicles and their successful market entry. The low cost is due to the fact that the 48 volt system requires much less insulation protection investment, the electrical parts are smaller and cheaper, and the structure itself can be made more compact as the gaps between the individual components can be smaller than with high voltage technology. Thanks to 48-volt high-power technology, Continental is leading the way in terms of performance, efficiency and power density. Full hybridization has been made possible without the effort and cost of high voltage systems.

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