1. Home
  2. Press Releases
  3. Press
  4. Broad Range of Electric Drives

Continental Provides a Broad Range of Electric Drives for Electric Vehicles

Apr 29, 2010

  • Different motor concepts foruse in hybrid and electric vehicles.
  • Complete portfolio with batt ery, power electronics and e-machines for electrification of the powertrain.
  • Market launch in 2011 with mass production electric vehicle in Europe.

Regensburg/Berlin/Vienna. With the development of new, efficient electric motors with a performance range of 5 to 120 kW for hybrid and electric vehicles, international automotive supplier Continental is underlining its leading position in the electrification of powertrains in passenger and commercial vehicles. "Efficient electric motors are an integral part of our portfolio for an efficient control of the electric drive consisting of power electronics, battery and system know-how ", commented Jörg Grotendorst, Head of the Hybrid & Electric Vehicles Business Unit, Continental Powertrain Division.

Synchronous Machines (SM) do not have magnets, but use an excitation winding which is magnetized when a current flows Click here to download this image

Efficient electric motors for drive concepts of the future
Electric and hybrid vehicles mostly use three-phase motors. While there are different design principles, the basic design – apart from gearbox-integrated applications – is often identical. The stator winding, located on the outside, creates a magnetic rotating field, with the rotor located inside the motor. Permanent Magnet Synchronous Machines (PSMs) use rotors equipped with magnets. Synchronous Machines (SMs) do not have magnets, but use an excitation winding which is magnetized when a current flows through it. Asynchronous Machines (ASMs) follow a third design principle. While the robust and proven ASM motors feature a simple structure and low costs, they are larger and can be less efficient in specific operating areas than PSM or SM motors. That is why ASM motors are used mainly in cost-optimized hybrid systems to support the combustion engine (boost function) and in the recuperation of energy during braking.

The higher-performance PSM or SM technologies are used for pure electric vehicles or full hybrids enabling electric driving. PSM motors currently dominate the market. They combine the advantages of compact design with a high degree of efficiency for large parts of the required performance range. Because of its compact design (low axial length), this concept is also suitable for motors that are integrated into the transmission bell housing. Technical challenges associated with this type of motor include achieving low zero torque loss, the complexity of the safety concept, as well as availability and cost of the magnet raw material.

These challenges do not arise with SM motors, which offer a high degree of efficiency across virtually the entire operating range. In particular, they offer advantages at higher speeds as the mutual inductance can be reduced by regulation of the excitation current. The longer design of this type of motor is no disadvantage in the application for electric axle drives. The safety concept of SM motors allows for switching off the rotor field, and no voltage is induced in the stator. Continental is the world leader in the development of this type of motor technology. The SM motor developed by Continental will go into series production in 2011 when a high-volume manufacturer in Europe launches its range of electric vehicles.

Continental offers its customers an electric motor portfolio that is both modular and scalable. Using all three electric motor types, customer solutions can be adapted to the demands of the individual vehicle manufacturer based on the different motor lengths and designs. By using a high share of common parts in the various electric motor types, Continental saves costs and is able to develop new systems faster while improving quality.

Comprehensive portfolio for electrification of the powertrain
Around two million hybrid and electric vehicles are expected to be on the roads worldwide by 2012. Continental is responding to this momentum, and has been investing for many years in the research and further development of components and systems for electrification of the powertrain. In this respect, electric motors are just one component in the demanding technology for electrification of the powertrain.

One of the first electro motors, which will be produced in high volumes for electric vehicles Click here to download this image

Continental Powertrain has developed an entire range of cost-efficient drive components and complete systems. These have been in series-production since 2003. The aim is to penetrate the market for environmentally friendly technology as quickly as possible. One of the crucial criteria for achieving fast market growth is energy storage. Continental uses lithium-ion batteries, which first went into series production for use in vehicles worldwide in 2008 and are produced in Nuremberg, Germany.

Power electronics is another component making rapid progress. One of the tasks of power electronics is to convert the direct current from the battery into alternating current for the electric motor and to store the energy recuperated from braking in the battery. With its new generation of power electronics, Continental is reducing motor size by around 30%. "This has been achieved by making components smaller, using new manufacturing and production processes and by an overall improvement in efficiency," commented Jörg Grotendorst.

Electric drive with big advantages in inner-city traffic
Electric vehicles will play an important role in future in short trips in and around towns and cities. "Our motors offer a large performance range and high efficiency in realistic driving cycles with a mix of urban and interurban driving", said Grotendorst. An electric drive is ideally suited for short trips which account for around two thirds of all trips according to market studies conducted by Continental. "Electric driving will become increasingly important in those areas," Grotendorst continued. From an ecological point of view, the use of electric and hybrid vehicles in urban centers brings additional the advantages of reducing both exhaust gas emissions and noise in big cities around the world.


Simone Geldhäuser
External Communications
Powertrain Division
Siemensstr. 12
93055 Regensburg
Telefon: +49 941 790-61302
Fax: +49 941 790-99 61302

Download Press Release (Word, 72 KB)