A big city in the year 2030: emission-free electric cars and driverless shuttles dominate the downtown streetscape. At the city limits, hybrid vehicles switch to purely electric driving when entering the urban area. Charging stations are no longer connected to power tanks through connectors, instead they are connected to parking places with inductive charging areas. Outside the city, you can find long-haul vehicles with fuel-cell drives.
Continental is working intensively on the requirements for a healthy ecosystem for the mobility of the future. Electric vehicles play a key role in this. Mobility is arguably the biggest transformation. And development is faster and more radical than many had expected. While the long-established manufacturers were still hesitant a few years ago, today all signs point to electrification. According to current studies, by 2030 half of all automobiles will be fully or partially electric.
As a global technology corporation, Continental and Vitesco Technologies have a close eye on these developments and have numerous products in series or pre-development – for both the 48-volt and plug-in hybrid and purely battery-powered vehicles. More than ten years ago, Continental Powertrain embarked on the path toward electrification and to date has invested around 2 billion euros in new technologies. With this advantage, we are able to actively shape the market.
Vitesco Technologies’ portfolio includes electric drives, electronic control systems, sensors and actuators, as well as innovations for exhaust-gas aftertreatment. Whenever there's potential for growth that is well suited to our core competencies, we analyze whether our market entry would be worthwhile. The fact that investments will pay off at some point is best illustrated by the fully integrated axle drive, which will be included in several E-production models from the PSA group and Hyundai in the future. Fully integrated means that the new drive combines the electric machine, power electronics and reduction gear in a single housing.
As one of the few system providers, Continental has a complete electrified powertrain in its portfolio – from a single source. Among other things, it is also used in the electric vehicle Sion from the young start-up Sono Motors. The crowdfunded solar car gives a taste of the future: It is completely covered with solar cells, which allows the car to produce electrical energy in a self-sufficient way. We are already working on the next generation of the axle drive. The focus is on 48-volt solutions for fully hybrid vehicles. The engineers have succeeded in developing a technology that has comparable features to a high-voltage electric drive, but at an optimized overall cost. In addition to the fuel-saving hybrid function, it makes purely electric driving in the city affordable for everyone. By 2025, the innovation should go into production.
But how will we supply electricity to electric vehicles in the future? The Continental experts assume that superchargers with 800 volts are emerging for fast “refueling” on the move. In addition to the so-called wall boxes, inductive charging units are also to be used for charging at home. In any case, we will experience a comfort increase. Inductive charging would be one options: The system allows wireless charging via induction using a special charging plate on which the e-car parks. Continental is working on manufacturer-independent standards for this.
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