Rheinmetall Automotive lands a €250 million ($281 million) contract to manufacture electrical vacuum pumps for use in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles built in China.
Pierburg Huaya Pump Technology (PHP), a Shanghai-based joint venture of Rheinmetall Automotive, will produce the pumps for what the company describes only as “a renowned international carmaker.”
The ramp-up phase of production began last year. After lowering production in March and April because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Shanghai PHP plant is 100% operational and customer demand for the pumps is nearly on schedule, Rheinmetall says in a news release.
The electrical pump’s major advantage is that it can switch off when the brakes are not activated, whereas mechanical vacuum pumps run continuously while the vehicle is running even when there is no need to brake.
In addition, the electrical vacuum pump is not connected to the engine oil lubrication system. That allows for a smaller oil pump, which in turn increases drivetrain efficiency.
In hybrids, electric vacuum pumps allow electric-only driving when the combustion engine is switched off while retaining full braking power assistance. They also allow the so-called coasting operating mode, in which the engine is shut down and decoupled to achieve additional energy savings due to reduced friction in the drivetrain.
The pumps can be used in fully electric vehicles and in conventional drivetrains. In today's downsized gasoline engines, the pumps guarantee an adequate vacuum level to boost braking power, for example.
Besides lowering fuel consumption and emissions, Rheinmetall says the pump runs very quietly. In electric and hybrid vehicles, the noise level of the pump system must be so low that it cannot be heard while driving.
The electrical vacuum pump and integrated motor were developed in-house by Rheinmetall Automotive in Germany, where production started in 2017 for another order from the same customer.