• The system will go into production with European car manufacturers from 2016
  • Global market share of 48-volt vehicles is to grow to more than 10 percent by 2025
  •  The 48-volt hybrid system can be easily integrated into conventional vehicles

To reduce fuel consumption and emissions even further, Continental has bridged the gap between the reasonably priced 12-volt start-stop systems and the more expensive hybrid solutions with voltages from 110 volts. With this in mind, the international automotive supplier has developed its “48-Volt Eco Drive” system. The new hybrid technology can be easily integrated into the architecture of conventional-drive vehicles, yet, at the same time, it provides features that up to now have only been found in high-voltage hybrid systems – such as switching off the combustion engine while driving (“sailing” and “coasting”), extremely quick and comfortable premium engine start-up and efficient brake energy recovery (recuperation). The new Continental technology will go into production with European car manufacturers for the first time in 2016.

The fuel-saving potential offered by the system will be demonstrated on the “auto mobil” magazine, a program that will be shown on the German TV station VOX at 5:00 p.m. on November 16. The VOX editors tested the Continental demo vehicle – a standard compact car with a 1.2-liter gasoline engine fitted with the “48-Volt Eco Drive” system – under real conditions in a mainly urban environment. The result: A 21-percent fuel saving compared to the standard version with a 12-volt start-stop system.

Particularly High Demand Expected for Compact and Midsize Vehicles
“Car manufacturers are demanding ‘clean power’ solutions at a price in the lower double-digit euro range per gram of CO2 reduction – and our ’48-Volt Eco Drive’ system fits the bill exactly,” said Christopher Breitsameter, Head of Business Development & Strategy in the Powertrain Division.

“We assume that the greatest demand for the system will come from the large-volume segments of compact and midsize class vehicles and that Europe will lead the way when it comes to its introduction,” Breitsameter adds. According to estimates within the industry, around 20 percent of new vehicles worldwide will have electrified drive systems by 2025 – with around half of these being 48-volt hybrids.

The Combustion Engine is Switched off Almost a Third of the Time
In the “Eco Drive” system from Continental, the 48-volt on-board power supply – which supplements the 12-volt supply – consists of three components: an electric motor with integrated inverter which replaces the generator, a 48-volt lithium ion battery, and a voltage converter (DC/DC converter) for exchanging energy between the two on-board power supplies. The “48-Volt Eco Drive” provides significantly more effective recuperation than 12-volt systems. The recuperated energy is stored in the powerful Li-ion battery, so there is more power available for fuel-saving features. This includes extending the start-stop functionality to the driving mode – which means the combustion engine is switched off almost a third of the time. The 48-volt supply supports the 12-volt on-board power supply and ensures that all the electric features are maintained. In contrast, conventional 12-volt start-stop systems often have to restart the engine in order to operate energy-intensive consumers (e.g. air-conditioning unit) or do not switch the engine off at all when the vehicle is at a standstill.

“Coasting”, “Sailing”, “E-boosting” and Premium Comfort during Engine Start-Up
The “48-Volt Eco Drive” switches the combustion engine off as soon as the driver takes his or her foot off the accelerator pedal. This disengages the powertrain from the engine so that the vehicle rolls freely. During an average trip, the system is in “coasting” mode around 20 to 25 percent of the time, which alone saves up to 8 percent of fuel. Furthermore, “Eco Drive” has two features by which the electric motor functions as an engine. In “sailing” mode – with the combustion engine switched off as in “coasting” mode – the electric motor keeps the speed of the vehicle constant for a short period of time. And with the “e-boosting” feature, the electric motor assists the engine during acceleration.

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