German rolling bearing manufacturer major Schaeffler says innovative bearing solutions play a key role in sustainable mobility by making powertrains and chassis systems more energy efficient. In the EV space, every bit of energy saved translates into increased range.
As part of its strategy to serve the EV market the German bearings company is presenting two product innovations designed specifically for electric vehicles: the TriFinity triple-row wheel bearing and the high-efficiency ball bearing with centrifugal disc.
Matthias Zink, CEO – Automotive Technologies, Schaeffler said, “Innovative bearing technologies are a core part of our product DNA and underpin the success of our Automotive Technologies division. Schaeffler is looking to fit its efficient and high-precision bearing solutions in electrified powertrains and chassis systems, as well as conventional powertrains, to further enhance these systems and make them more sustainable.”
To achieve greater synergies and shorter development times for its custom solutions, the company established a new Bearings business division within its Automotive Technologies division at the start of this year.
Dr. Dieter Elreiner, head of new business division, Schaeffler said, “E-mobility represents a major opportunity for our bearings business. We are expecting strong growth over the next few years, with major sales potential particularly for ball, cylindrical roller and tapered roller bearings. We are already involved in a number of promising development projects with big-name vehicle manufacturers. Innovative bearing technologies are also very important for lightweight and heavy commercial vehicles, because they significantly increase vehicle range. Working with our customers, we intend to take bearings to a whole new level.”
Schaeffler says its TriFinity product is a triple-row wheel bearing designed for use in electrified powertrains. It is no bigger than standard two-row ball bearings, but is able to transfer greater axle loads, while also offering a significantly longer service life and improved rigidity. Moreover, the innovative ball bearing design provides an alternative to preloaded tapered roller bearing units. Switching from tapered rollers to balls leads to significant improvements in frictional torque and rigidity, resulting in a 0.7 percent reduction in electricity consumption per vehicle in FTP75 test cycles. The combination of the TriFinity with Schaeffler’s face spline technology allows downsizing solutions in the form of wheel bearing units with smaller diameters, and hence reduced bearing and seal friction, optimised bearing weight, and a smaller carbon footprint. For the same dimensions, the clearance-free face spline technology reduces bearing weight while enabling the component to transmit up to 50 percent more drive torque. It also makes the bearing easier to mount and reduces noise emissions in electric vehicles.
On the other hand, Schaeffler’s new high-efficiency ball bearing with centrifugal disc is a high-performance, friction-optimised and sustainable product for electromobility applications. It combines the benefits of both open-bearing and sealed-bearing designs. With 0.3 Nm less friction and CO2 emission reductions of about 0.1/km per bearing, the high-efficiency ball bearing with centrifugal disc is a smart yet simple solution that has a major impact on overall performance. It has 10 times the service life of an open bearing and represents a significant reduction in costs. This product innovation has already received the Magna Supplier Award and has been nominated for the 2022 German Innovation Award.