full-hybrid vehicle with 48-volt technology – this was previously deemed
impossible. For a hybrid vehicle to drive using just electricity, the electric
part of the drive would normally use high voltage technology – high voltages of
up to 800 volts. However, Continental’s engineers have now succeeded in
developing a 48-volt hybrid system that boasts features similar to those of a
high-voltage electric drive, namely 48-volt high-power technology.
to its broad systems expertise, Continental Powertrain is mastering all
variants of the electric drive, from 48-volt systems to hybrid technologies,
right through to high-voltage components. We offer expertise and
state-of-the-art technology from a single source,” said Andreas Wolf, CEO of
Continental’s powertrain business.
new 48-volt high-power system, comprising an electric motor complete with
integrated power electronics and a battery, reduces fuel consumption and
thereby also CO2 emissions by around 20 percent compared with similar vehicles
fitted with combustion engines. At the same time, the new 48-volt technology is
also considerably cheaper than the high-voltage systems used up to now. “Our
development objective was to achieve a level of driving efficiency with 48-volt
technology that was previously reserved for high-voltage systems and we have
now done exactly that,” said Stephan Rebhan, head of Technology &
Innovation at Powertrain.
New stage of development: full hybrid without a complex, high-voltage
48-volt systems were previously known as mild or P0 hybrids. They involve relatively
unobtrusive electrification of the powertrain. Fuel consumption is reduced
mainly with the support of the combustion engine (boosting) during acceleration
and the recovery of excess kinetic energy (recuperation) when the vehicle
decelerates. However, purely electric driving is not possible with such
systems, which Continental already manufactures for a number of automotive
In the latest stage of development, the
48-volt system was repositioned in the powertrain. The electric motor was no
longer placed in front of the combustion engine on the crankshaft, but behind
it – between the combustion engine and transmission (P2 hybrid). This meant
that fuel savings were able to increase and, in certain situations, such as
driving through a 30 km/h speed limit zone, the vehicle could be driven using
the electric motor alone.
the new 48-volt high-power technology, this hybrid system enables the same
functionality as previous, full-hybrid vehicles. The key component here is a
new, water-cooled electric motor, the peak output of which was doubled to 30 kW
in comparison with that used previously. Electric-only driving is therefore
possible up to a speed range of 80 to 90 km/h.
developers were able to achieve a 100 percent increase in power while
maintaining the diameter of the motor. Overall, 48-volt high-power technology
requires only slightly more installation space than the previous system. The
difference in weight is also minimal.
the electric motor is not the only new component of the 48-volt high-power
technology. The integrated power electronics also uses a new technology that
now enables it to handle significantly higher currents. The innovations of the
new 48-volt high-power technology result in a level of electrical efficiency
that surpasses the previous system by almost 10 percent. And during
recuperation (the recovery of excess kinetic energy when the vehicle
decelerates), the new technology is much more effective than was previously the
case, because the losses incurred in the electric drive system has been halved.
48-volt high-power technology therefore provides all the benefits of a
conventional, full-hybrid vehicle with a high-voltage system – significantly
lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as well as optimized driving
efficiency and drivability. There is also another argument in favor of the new
hybrid solution from Continental, which is its relatively low cost. This is the
key to making cheap hybrid vehicles available and achieving high market
penetration. The reason for this is that a 48-volt system requires considerably
less effort in terms of insulation protection, electrical components are
smaller and cheaper, and even the design can be made significantly more
compact, because smaller gaps are required between the individual components
than is the case with high-voltage technology.
is showcasing the new 48-volt high-power technology, which is also ready for
series development, in a Ford Focus test vehicle. “With the new hybrid system,
we are making the most of what is currently technologically possible for a
48-volt system,” said Stephan Rebhan. With the 48-volt high-power technology,
Continental is playing a leading role in terms of performance, power density
and efficiency. Full hybridization is made possible – all without the effort
and costs involved in a high-voltage system.
Even a 48-volt plug-in hybrid drive would
an eye on the new approval regulations that have been in force since September
1, 2018, in accordance with the WLTP cycle, the 48-volt high-power technology
could be developed even further. If, for instance, the system was supplemented
by on-board charging technology and a larger battery, this would make even a
plug-in hybrid drive featuring 48-volt technology possible. This is because the
ability to drive in all-electric mode is no longer the main criterion for
benefiting from the support for plug-in vehicles. Instead, it is the conversion
of electrically stored energy into traction in general. The deciding factor for
different funding initiatives is whether CO2 emissions can be reduced to below
50 g per kilometer.