Continental Presents Solutions for Upcoming Hybrid and Electric Commercial Vehicles
Sep 21, 2010
Powertrain electrification for trucks and buses to launch on the market within next few years; high potential for fuel savings when used in city traffic; knowledge transfer from passenger car development
Regensburg/Hannover. Hybrid technologies and electric drives will play an increasingly important role in the commercial vehicles segment over the coming years. International automotive supplier Continental is presenting its modular hybrid system – comprising a lithium-ion battery storage unit, power electronics, and electric motor – at the International Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover. “Having gained extensive knowledge in developing electric drive systems for passenger cars, Continental is in a position to rapidly develop and go to market with applications for commercial vehicles,” said Bernd Neitzel, head of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Business Unit, Division Powertrain. Continental is already testing both hybrid systems and vehicles powered purely by electricity in the mid-range truck segment that will be ready for market launch within the next few years. Hybrid technology enables fuel savings of up to 30 percent for trucks making deliveries in urban areas. Power Electronic: Adapted to the special requirements of Heavy Commercial Vehicles
Hybrid components and systems expertise from a single source
Continental has been developing components such as power electronics, electric motors, and energy accumulators for hybrid drives since the mid-1990s. It is the world’s only non-captive hybrid systems supplier and has had a mild hybrid in series production since 2003. The company is now applying the expertise it gained in the passenger cars segment to commercial vehicles. It is currently testing trucks of up to 7.5t powered purely by electricity with a range of least 150km. It is also trialing a 9t truck with hybrid drive consisting of a diesel and electric motor, which can be driven on electricity to enable emission-free deliveries in pedestrian areas, for example.
“Continental’s modular hybrid system, great flexibility, and extensive systems expertise in integrating and adapting electric components to existing vehicle concepts enables us to cover the full bandwidth, from vans, to all truck classes, to buses,” emphasized Neitzel. The modular system includes high-performance lithium-ion batteries manufactured by Continental, power electronics, electric motors, and voltage transformers. The electric motor acts both as an electric drive system and as a generator for energy recovery in overrun phases (‘recuperation’). The recovered energy is temporarily stored in the battery and then released either for subsequent acceleration (boost) or for driving under purely electrical power. Lithium Ion Battery: For use in Heavy Commercial Vehicles & busses
The power electronics are the heart of any hybrid drive, acting as an inverter, controlling the flow of energy between the electric engine and the battery. Depending on the voltage status and the amperage, it is a defining factor for the performance of the system as a whole. Continental’s special modular system of power electronics offers solutions for high voltages and currents and can be adapted to the special requirements of commercial vehicles. The conceptual approach of integrating the electric drive unit into the existing powertrain enables Continental’s hybrid technology to be put to use in a whole host of applications. However, fuel economy, CO2 reductions, and avoidance of emissions are not the only advantages of using hybrid technologies in the commercial vehicles segment.
Another benefit is that the electric motor causes the vehicle to brake and can transform the energy to charge the battery. Moreover, auxiliary units – for cooling refrigerated trucks, for example – become considerably more efficient when powered purely by electricity. The option to drive on electricity in urban areas, thereby without any emissions, avoids the need to reload goods onto different vehicles. “Hybrid technologies are very attractive to the commercial vehicles sector, and Continental will be launching them on the market in the near future,” said Neitzel.