Continental Believes In Electrification Tailored To Fit

At the 34th International Vienna Engine Symposium, the international automotive supplier Continental presented future “clean power” solutions that it will be offering between now and 2020, aimed at making vehicles more efficient and environmentally friendly while also offering strong performance.

Continental believes that direct-injection (DI) gasoline engines still offer significant further potential and is therefore continuing to press forward with the development of components and engine management concepts for this type of engine.

Meanwhile, the company also believes electric mobility must become more cost-efficient. The companies motto is “Electrification, tailored to fit.”

As Continental explained, today, internal combustion engines often continue running even in situations where this is not absolutely necessary in terms of maintaining propulsion.

In the interests of systematic optimization, the engine should ideally be shut down in such phases.

Continental believes such optimization could be significantly assisted by electrification.

“Continental is taking a pragmatic approach to hybridization,” said Xavier Pujol, Head of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Business Unit within the Powertrain Division. “Our approach starts with utilizing the full potential of 12V electrical networks. If more electrical power is required, a second – 48V – voltage level can be added. The Continental 48-volt system, incorporating a lithium-ion battery of cost-efficient size and with an energy rating of, say, 10 Ah, would be capable of supporting a wide range of mild hybrid functions without needing high-voltage capability and at a realistic market price. Such ‘tailored to fit electrification’ would allow carmakers to take a step-by-step approach.”

Unlike cost-intensive full hybrid systems, a 48-volt system does not require modification of the engine and transmission configuration. For Continental, this means it can be implemented cost-efficiently, for smaller vehicle models as well.

“More effective energy recovery with the 48V system, and intelligent operating strategies, allow significant savings to be achieved in everyday driving,” says Pujol, summing up the benefits for the driver.

Such operating strategies include “sailing” and “coasting.” In the so-called “sailing” mode, the vehicle can be kept at a constant speed using the 48-volt system’s electrical power, while in coasting mode, the vehicle freewheels or, for example, its kinetic energy is intelligently recovered as it coasts to a standstill.

Continental believes that in light of the above potential, 48-volt electrification in combination with an optimized DI gasoline engine will prove to be a particularly attractive configuration.

By simultaneously developing both of the above-mentioned “clean power” pathways – the internal combustion engine and electrification – Continental said it will be able to support the complete range of optimization strategies on the road to providing clean personal mobility in the year 2020 and beyond.