FRANKFURT – Fuel-saving 48V mild-hybrid systems from Continental will debut on two European vehicles in 2016, followed by U.S. and Chinese models in 2017-18, but the real growth of 48V will come in the following decade, says a Continental official at the Frankfurt auto show.
Oliver Malwald, Continental’s senior vice president-technology and innovation, estimates by 2025 some 20% of the world’s 110 million vehicles will feature some form of electrically assisted propulsion, compared with just 2% of the 87 million vehicles on the road today.
Of those electrified vehicles, Continental expects 50% will feature a 48V system, putting the German supplier in a key position for growth. “We want to be the driver of 48V technology,” Malwald says.
Continental certainly has a strong foothold in 48V, with half a dozen customers already in the wings for its first-generation Belt Starter Generator (BSG).
Positioned at the front of an internal-combustion engine, the component provides restart power as well as 15 kw and up to 74 lb.-ft. (100 Nm) of additional torque. The BSG draws power from a 0.5-kWh lithium-ion battery.
The 48V system aids fuel efficiency because it is capable of synchronizing the engine with the driveline at any speed, allowing for shutting down and restarting the engine whenever possible. The driveline decouples during shutdown, allowing it to “sail” without any impediment from the engine.
Malwald says Continental testing shows a vehicle typically coasts about 20% of the time in real-world driving, which makes the sailing function particularly valuable as a fuel saver. Continental estimates 13% to 21% fuel-efficiency gains for vehicles employing its 48V BSG.
The company’s second-generation BSG, due on the market by 2020 and developed with partner Schaeffler, is an inline unit fitted between the engine and transmission. The second-gen BSG’s major benefits include low-speed (up to 10 mph [30 km/h]) EV-only propulsion and its ability to keep an air-conditioning compressor functioning even when the ICE shuts down.
A third-generation version in development incorporates the electric motor directly into the driveline, eliminating the need for a drive belt.
Malwald says 48V improves the restart function and also can provide power for pre-heated electric catalysts needed to manage emissions in stop-start powertrains.
Continental also is experimenting with using 48V to power its Intelligent Deceleration Assist, a haptic, vibrating accelerator pedal that would prompt a driver to lift off the pedal prior to coasting to a stop.