1. Home
  2. Press Releases
  3. 48 Volt Eco Drive

Small Step – Big Difference: Continental´s “48 Volt Eco Drive” offers Mild Hybrid Functions

Sep 10, 2013

  • Continental presents new “48 Volt Eco Drive” system as the latest module in its “electrification tailored to fit” approach
  • At reasonable cost, this electrification solution can achieve double-digit reductions in CO2 emissions and support additional electrical functions
  • The “48 Volt Eco Drive” components are easy to integrate and in principle can be installed in any vehicle

Frankfurt, Regensburg, September 10, 2013. At the 65th IAA International Motor Show in September, Continental provides a foretaste of a wide range of “Clean Power” solutions designed to make vehicles of the future more efficient and environmentally friendly while also offering strong performance. A major role in “Clean Power” solutions will be played by electrification – subject to the twin requirements of attractive pricing and close tailoring to end user requirements. This is why Continental sees its new “48 Volt Eco Drive” system – which supplements the traditional 12V electrical network with a 48V electrical system and components – as an important way forward.

Download press picture

This electrification solution bridges the gap between low-end hybridization, based on present-day 12V start/stop systems, and the more sophisticated high-voltage hybrid solutions. “The “48 Volt Eco Drive” system is easy to install, while also offering many of the functions and fuel economy benefits that were previously confined to mild hybrids, with their higher voltage level,” says José Avila, Head of the Powertrain Division and Member of the Continental Executive Board. To illustrate these benefits, Continental has installed the “Eco Drive” system in a demonstrator vehicle. The system offers NEDC fuel savings of around 13%. “The 48V solution is getting great attention in our industry” says Avila. “The first orders have been received, and production will begin in 2016.”

Here you can download the press release as a doc-file.

Fuel savings with flexible installation options

The new 48V voltage level has multiple advantages: first of all no special electric shock safeguards are required, since the relevant statutory requirements only apply to system voltages of more than 60V. At the same time a 48V system already offers much more efficient braking energy recovery than a 12V system. A further advantage is that electrical consumers with higher power requirements operate more efficiently at 48V.

Download press picture

These are important benefits given that 12V networks are increasingly being pushed to their limits by the growing number of electrical functions in the vehicle. A 48V starter-alternator also provides fast and quiet restarting after an engine stop, even at sub-zero temperatures. And a 48V system requires no modifications to the engine and transmission configuration. This means that in principle the system architecture, from the belt system, electric motor, DC/DC converter and lithium-ion battery through to the powertrain and energy management modules can be integrated in any vehicle. In the demonstrator vehicle’s 48V system, a belt-driven alternator starter (BAS) replaces the conventional alternator. “Alternatively, the BAS electric motor can be directly mounted on the transmission. This sort of flexibility is a big strength of our “Eco Drive” concept. For example it is also possible to vary the length and diameter of the electric motor, depending on the available installation space and power requirements,” says Xavier Pujol, Head of the Hybrid Electric Vehicles Business Unit within the Powertrain Division. The demonstrator’s lithium-ion battery, supplied by SK Continental E-motion (venture of SK Innovation and Continental), is also relatively easy to integrate. Its dimensions are virtually identical to those of a 12V lead-acid battery.

The fuel-saving potential of the “48 Volt Eco Drive” system is based chiefly on more efficient energy recuperation and extension of the start/stop functionality to cover both constant -speed cruising and “sailing” or “coasting”. The powertrain and energy management is implemented using modules from the Engine Management System (EMS) platform.

Principal applications of 48V electrification: CO2 savings and more!

In addition to reducing fuel consumption at reasonable cost, another feature of the “48V Eco Drive” system is that it allows electrification of further vehicle functions. This is particularly relevant in larger vehicles, where conventional 12V electrical systems are nearing the limits of their capacity. Here, without an additional voltage level, electric functions such as windscreen heating, power steering or anti-roll stabilization (active reduction of body roll when cornering) would be very difficult to implement. At the same time, if more functions are handled by a higher-voltage system, this also has benefits for vehicle weight, since the greater efficiency of 48V electrical consumers facilitates lighter-weight design. Continental’s “Eco Drive” architecture, which will be presented at the IAA, and its modular “tailored to fit” electrical components, allow the international automotive supplier to implement individually optimized applications at short notice in all classes of vehicle.


Simone Geldhäuser

External Communications


Powertrain Division

Siemensstr. 12

93055 Regensburg / Germany

Phone: +49 941 790-61302

Fax: +49 941 790-99 61302