Over 70% of Mahle’s new patents in electrification domain, company banking heavily on hybrid tech

The German Tier-1 maker is currently witnessing over 70 percent of its new patents being filed in electrification products, while thermal management systems, bio-fuels also emerge as focus areas.

By Mayank Dhingra calendar 16 Apr 2024 Views icon3605 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Over 70% of Mahle’s new patents in electrification domain, company banking heavily on hybrid tech

German Tier-1 major Mahle, which offers a range of powertrain solutions for vehicles across segments, is realising its R&D focus on innovation in electrification products and thermal management systems for EVs. The company presently sees over 70 percent of its new patents being filed in the electrification domain, while internal-combustion engine (ICE) components lie only in lower-single-digit range, revealed Mahle’s Chairman of the Management Board, and CEO, Arnd Franz.

“Currently, all our R&D efforts and over 70 percent of Mahle’s new patents are on electrification. When we look at ICE, we are in the lower-single-digit range, whereas mechatronics and electronics again see double-digit percentages of our revenue as investment into R&D,” Franz said at the company’s annual press conference.

“We are also focusing on thermal management as it is not just the e-motor, but the power electronics as well that must also be cooled appropriately. We have been putting to use our wind tunnel to innovate on thermal management, and our rich experience of over 75 years of using this tunnel augurs well for us to offer better solutions for system optimisation,” he added.

While the company says it is presently seeing a “transitionary renaissance” of the ICE segment, however, “one cannot hide the fact that as per current European regulations, ICE will need to be phased out by CY35,” Franz pointed out.

“Therefore, the renaissance in ICE is temporary, and we are focusing on hybrids more than EVs. We believe hybrid powertrains are extremely relevant to reduce CO2 emissions,” he explained while adding that by leveraging smaller batteries along with internal combustion engines, hybrid powertrains tend to offer tremendous benefits to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

In its thermal management domain, Mahle has also developed new battery cooling plates, which claim to offer higher cooling in a smaller size. The battery cooling plate controls the battery temperature in an EV, as well as controls its coolant temperature to ensure that the battery temperature remains in its optimum range both during charging and discharge. “With our technology, we can contribute significantly towards innovation in EVs by offering longer range, and reducing CO2. Our cooling plate offers 10 percent better cooling with a 20 percent lesser size, thereby allowing carmakers liberty in design and packaging,” Franz revealed.

EV adoption lower than anticipated

While it is keen to witness growth in its EV business which continues to lag ICE at the moment, Mahle says there needs to be more push in terms of subsidies and charging infrastructure. According to Franz, “We need more push in terms of subsidies which must be stable and reliable. On top of that, a continued focus on charging infrastructure, as well as appropriate regulations that are concise, will drive EV adoption which has been lower than expected.”

“We are satisfied with our ICE products and their profitability, and before we entered the thermal management domain, while we have had major acquisitions in Europe, North America, and Asia, we have not yet finalised integrating these companies.

“Thermal management is already the biggest business unit, and among all electrification products – traction motors, and power electronics - presently we are only investing in capacities, as well as R&D. As of now, we are far below utilising these capacities to the maximum as the demand in the real world has not been up to expectations,” Franz pointed out.

Need for biofuels to reduce emissions

Franz further added that with several major markets across the world relying on thermal energy, e-mobility alone will not serve the purpose to reduce CO2 emissions. Of the 25,000TWh worldwide annual energy consumption in the transportation sector, e-mobility will only be able to reduce it to an extent by 2050, he explained while adding that Mahle too does have a responsibility to reduce CO2, “it would be much slower if we rely on e-mobility alone.”

“Therefore, for markets with insufficient green power, we need alternative solutions, which could only be based on liquid fuels,” he added. The company says it has been focusing on synthetic fuels, as well as bio-fuels. “Our team in Brazil has demonstrated several powertrains running on biofuels. De-carbonisation would accelerate if we adopt these fuels. Furthermore, the G20 initiative forbio-fuels together with India augurs well for leveraging biofuels especially for emerging economies, and we are ready to offerour technical knowledge in this domain,” Franz signed off.

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