Electrification Technologies (Part 1): Continental's 48V mild hybrid

European introduction from 2016, widespread adoption projected for around 2020



 This report will take up mild hybrid systems equipped with Continental AG's 48-volt starter generators based on a lecture the company presented at the Automotive World expo in January 2016. Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.'s and Honda Motor Co., Ltd.'s strategies for electrification will be reported separately. 

 Regulations concerning fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions are being tightened in countries and regions all over the world. There are limits to how much internal combustion engines (ICE) can be improved in response to this, and several types of electrification are expected to be advanced. Widespread adoption of plug-in hybrid systems and 48-volt powered mild hybrid systems in particular is anticipated.

 Two models equipped with Continental's mild hybrid system (named "48-Volt Eco Drive" system by the company) will go on sale in Europe in 2016, and be launched in the U.S. and China between 2017 and 2018.

 Moreover, Continental is planning to introduce the Side-mounted Starter Generator system around 2020 and Inline Starter Generator system around 2025, both of which are advanced versions of the 48V Eco Drive system. Robert Bosch GmbH and Valeo S.A. have announced similar systems (described in the latter half of this report).

 In 2011, five German OEMs (Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche, Daimler, and BMW) agreed to formulate common specifications for 48V power supplies used in 48V mild hybrid systems. In 2013, they further defined the LV148 standard and requested the cooperation of parts suppliers. Because of this, underlying technology for 48V components is being readied for implementation. Compared to electric or full hybrid vehicles, OEMs did not need to assign significant development resources, which allowed for a set up where parts suppliers could make proposals.

 The main components are a belt starter generator, a lithium ion battery acting as a 48 V power supply, and a DC-DC converter for converting power from 48 volts to 12 volts. Continental's hybrid system adopts a 48V supply because power supplies that are 60 volts or higher must abide by stricter safety standards.


48 V hybrid prototype car
A 48V mild hybrid prototype car co-developed by Continental and Schaeffler that is based on the Ford Focus. The prototype improves fuel efficiency by 17% over the base model. It meets the Euro 6 emission standards. (Photo: Schaeffler)
48V Eco Drive systemのメリット
A conceptual image depicting the advantages of the
48V Eco Drive system (Photo: Continental)

Related Reports:
European OEMs and suppliers plan to launch 48V hybrid systems after 2016 (February 2015)
Latest electrification technologies:Bosch, Schaeffler, ZF, and Jatco (November 2015)

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