Automotive suppliers are key to the creation and development of electric and hybrid cars. Continental has developed and is now launching its latest generation of power electronics, making them smaller, lighter, and more powerful.

Continental, mostly known to the public for its tires, is a major player as an original equipment supplier and provides parts to almost every major manufacturer. Less known is the fact the company has been involved in manufacturing hybrid systems since 2003. Continental was also the world’s first supplier of li-ion batteries for mass-produced cars in 2008.

In hard numbers, the newly developed highly integrated module has a continuous power of 20 kilowatts at a weight of only eight kilograms and takes up just five liters of space. Mass and volume are about 33 percent less than in the previous generation. This was possible due to the integration of two modules: The inverter and the DC-DC converter are now assembled in a single housing.

This module has been designed to be modular and scalable right from the start. Modifying just a few components is all that is necessary to adapt the device to a large variety of applications. For example, this concept is used in the full hybrid Audi Q5 and in purely electric vehicles.

Discussions about electric cars are often focused on batteries – understandably so, since one of the primary development targets is to extend the electric driving range.

To accomplish this, it is necessary to achieve a high level of efficiency for the entire electric drive train, no matter what kind of vehicle is involved, whether it is a mild hybrid or a full electric car.

The use of more efficient power electronics will also make a major contribution to lengthening the driving range. This unit is the mediator between a high-voltage battery and the electric motor; it ensures that energy stored in the battery in the form of direct current reaches the electric motor in the form of three-phase alternating current in the right rating and at the right frequency. It also enables the reverse procedure, known as recuperation.