Continental bets big on China's EV plans, presents range of solutions at Auto Shanghai

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 17 Apr 2019


Technology company Continental is continuing to drive forward the expansion of electric mobility in China. At Auto Shanghai (April 16 to 25, 2019), Continental will be presenting a range of established and production-ready drive systems and innovative electronic components extending from 48-volt mild-hybrid applications and plug-in hybrid or full-hybrid solutions to high-voltage drive systems.

In addition, Continental Powertrain is investing heavily in new Chinese production sites in Tianjin and Changzhou. The company says industry experts agree that China is at the forefront for electric mobility, and the country ranks as the largest and fastest-growing market for this technology, particularly in the area of high-voltage solutions (all-electric vehicles). According to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), sales of New Energy Vehicles (including PHEV, BEV, FCEV) in China increased by 63 percent in 2018, to a record level of 1,240,000 units.

"The Chinese market will continue to be of pivotal importance for the future development of electric mobility – and therefore also for Continental. We offer solutions for all electrification levels and across all vehicle segments which reduce emissions particularly in towns, but also provide modern and sustainable mobility for everyone,” says Andreas Wolf, head of Continental Powertrain.

Highlighting the Continental Powertrain's areas of focus for the trade show, Gregoire Cuny, head of China Market, said: “At Auto Shanghai 2019, we will be demonstrating how we are using our advanced electrification solutions to drive China’s future mobility and contribute to a clean world.”

Highly integrated axle drive system
According to the company one cornerstone of e-mobility strategy is the highly integrated electric powertrain module for EVs. This module is said to be suitable for use in everything from compact to luxury vehicles, with a particular focus on the volume-selling mid-range segment. The highly integrated axle drive system, with a maximum power of 150 kW, is claimed to boast a first-class power-to-weight ratio and a compact, relatively lightweight design. This high-voltage drive system integrates the electric motor, transmission and power electronics into a single unit. The result is a system which is not only lighter but also more powerful than comparable concepts.

In addition, other advantages include high levels of driving pleasure and favourable costs, since the high degree of integration makes it possible to dispense with the cables and connectors required in the past. Continental says customers for this system include both international and Chinese carmakers. In response to the high demand, Continental is expanding its production capacity for the integrated high-voltage drive system and in the second half of 2019, and will also begin production in Tianjin, China.

“Production in Tianjin is an important part of our strategy for achieving an optimal positioning in the Chinese market. At the same time, this production site is also important for other markets,” said Gregoire Cuny, head of China Market at Powertrain.

Extensive range of power electronics
Continental says a further cornerstone for its electric mobility business is power electronics. Powertrain has been steadily expanding its operations in this field for more than ten years and the company has ambitious plans for the future: Starting some time in 2020, power electronics components will go into local production in Tianjin.

These complex electronic systems can be used in a wide range of vehicles. Power electronics regulate power flows in the vehicle and also control the process of energy recuperation, which ensures that the full potential of the electric powertrain can be exploited, thereby maximising driving pleasure. A key advantage is that Continental can supply the electric motor and power electronics either individually or in combination.

Continental's 48-volt technology debuts in China
Continental Powertrain’s 48-volt technology is now set to make its mark in the Chinese market, too. Having been the first company to supply the 48-volt system in Europe, now Powertrain is taking things a step further. In Changzhou, China, the company has collaborated with its Chinese partner CALB (China Aviation Lithium Battery Technology), the JV will develop and produce 48-volt battery systems for the automotive industry.

The battery cells will be supplied by CALB, while the battery management system including basic software is provided by Continental Powertrain. As part of the collaboration, Continental will be able to supply a complete 48-volt system from a single source, comprising the motor, DC/DC control unit and 48V battery.  The partners are also looking at put even more technically advanced battery systems into production by the end of 2021.

Toward the end of this year, in response to an initial major order, Continental says it will begin volume production of its intelligent thermal management system of for an electric vehicle in China.