The move from combustion engines to electric drives will fundamentally change the automotive world. Continental is shaping this transformation from a leading position – and has been for years.
The technology company is now presenting at the IAA 2019 the third generation of electric powertrains, with the new, very high-performance, light and compact axle drive set to take to the roads in various electric models from several Chinese and European manufacturers later this year.
“We are promoting new mobility solutions with pioneering technologies. Our electric drives form a key element of innovative vehicles – from both established manufacturers and start-up companies,” said Andreas Wolf, CEO of Continental’s powertrain business.
Long-standing electric experience results in an outstanding level of development
Back in 2006, development work began at Continental on an electric drive that was used in an electric car from a European manufacturer from 2011. So, it was not only years of expertise in electric drives that went into the new, now market-ready, third generation of the axle drive, but also experience from long-standing everyday use of this technology.
Thanks to their systems expertise, Powertrain engineers were able to further improve the interaction between the individual components, consisting of the electric motor, power electronics and transmission, and synchronize them optimally – and also optimize installation space and weight. The new axle drive now weighs less than 80 kilograms. The function of an electric parking lock has now been integrated into the transmission.
The new, more powerful axle drive offers not only an outstanding driving experience, but also a favorable cost level. This is because numerous cable connections and connectors, for example, are no longer necessary thanks to the smart combination of the components, with a focus on integration.
Due to its size, performance data and characteristics, the axle drive from Continental is suitable for numerous vehicle classes and concepts. Specifically, the drive module will take to the road in a small European car and several compact SUVs from Asian manufacturers later this year. In addition to these new electric vehicles from traditional OEMs, the new Continental technology is setting the Sion electric vehicle from German start-up Sono Motors in motion.
Partnerships with traditional OEMs and start-ups
As shown by the example of Sono Motors, Continental’s technological expertise makes it a driving force behind environmentally friendly drive and mobility concepts. In this area, too, practical experience is thus gained at an early stage and special expertise developed. With its high quality products, Continental therefore serves both young, emerging companies and established manufacturers from the vehicle industry.
Series production of the new axle drive used worldwide will begin at the Continental plant in Tianjin, China, in the third quarter of 2019. The reason for hosting production in China is that it means proximity to what is currently the largest and fastest-growing market for electric vehicles, coupled with the strong supplier chain that Continental has established in China.