TECHNO-FRONTIER 2018: Manufacturing changes in the age of electrification and autonomous driving

Increased number of electronic components, electronic substrates, and the use of aluminum



The TECHNO-FRONTIER 2018 event held for three days at the Makuhari Messe exhibition center (April 18 to 20, 2018) showcased developments in the areas of motors, motion engineering, mechatronics, mechanical parts and processing technology, power supply systems, eco-power solutions, and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and noise countermeasures, as well as exhibitions relating to thermal design and countermeasure technologies. In addition, this was the first exhibition held that reflected manufacturing changes in the age of electrification and vehicle automation such as the utilization of AI and IoT technologies and advanced driver-assistance system technologies.

According to forecasts by LMC Automotive, in 2027, worldwide 90% of vehicles will still be powered by internal combustion engines. From some of the car cutaway models displayed at the exhibition, one can see some of the advances that are being made in the evolution of engine electrification as well as in engine auxiliary devices (e.g. water pumps and air conditioner compressors) for hybrid vehicle applications, etc., with small motors integrated into the pumps and compressors. Also evident is an increased use of electronic substrates and controllers as well as dramatic increase in the number of components made of aluminum, which possess excellent heat dissipation properties.


Half cut exhibition car cutaways provided by the Saitama Institute of Automotive Technology:

  • Nissan Note e-Power (series hybrid)
  • Honda Legend Hybrid
  • Honda Fit Hybrid
(Half cut exhibition car: Nissan note e-Power engine room and battery ECU)

Related Reports:
OEM Electrification Strategies: Strengthening HVs and diversifying into EVs, PHVs, and FCVs (May 2018)
OEM Electrification Strategies: Acceleration of EV and PHV Lineup Expansion (Mar. 2018)

Electric vehicle trend

According to the electric vehicle sales forecast of LMC Automotive, in 2027, slightly less than 90% of vehicles will be powered by internal combustion engines. To increase the rapid deployment of pure electric vehicles (BEV = Battery EV), it will be necessary to overcome three obstacles: range, battery cost, and charging infrastructure development.


Global Hybrid and EV Forecast

PFCEV: Plug-in fuel cell electric vehicle PHEV: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle
FCEV: Fuel cell electric vehicle FHEV: Full hybrid electric vehicle
EREV: Extended range electric vehicle MHEV(48V): Mild hybrid electric vehicle (48V)
BEV: Battery electric vehicle MHEV: Mild hybrid electric vehicle
IC Only: Internal combustion only

Source: LMC Automotive "Global Hybrid and EV Forecast (Second Half, 2017)"
(Note) Volumes for North American light vehicles and passenger cars in other markets are included in the data.
2. The unauthorized reproduction of LMC figures and tables is strictly prohibited. Reproduction or copying of the information requires consent from LMC Automotive.

Changes in internal combustion vehicles

Internal combustion vehicles are becoming more lightweight as a result of electrification, hybridization, smaller engines, downsizing through utilization of turbochargers, the use of plastics, etc. In addition, the variation in hybrid vehicle solutions is increasing to include models with systems such as 48V mild hybrid, full hybrid, range extender, and plug-in hybrid options. By 2030 it is likely that sales volumes of hybrid vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines will be greater than that of electric vehicles.


(Created by MarkLines based on Nissan public relations materials and displays presented by Saitama Institute of Automotive Technology)


Increase in Components due to electrification:

Increase Decrease
Electrification components
(Cam timing switching mechanism, variable electronic parts, variable intake, turbo, water pump, oil pump, starter generator, etc.)
Engine displacement
Components Turbo, supercharger parts
Oil cooler
Water cooled intercooler
High pressure fuel injection parts
Motors, solenoids, sensors
Lightweight materials
Heat shield material
Sound absorption material
Electronic control unit
Multistage automatic transmission
Number of engine cylinders
Pistons, connecting rods, valves, plugs
Diesel engines
Manual transmission

(MarkLines Data Center)

Nissan Note ePower (series hybrid engine model)

(Car cutaway displayed by the Saitama Institute of Automotive Technology)


The cutaway of the Nissan Note ePower model, the best-selling series hybrid engine model, is of the powertrain area equipped with a generator. The right side of the picture shows the motor (80 kW), with the decelerator sandwiched in the middle, and the 1.2L gasoline engine shown at left. The high and low voltage power supply is mounted on top of the motor. Conventionally, the air conditioner compressor would be driven via the accessory belt by the engine, but the cutaway shows that it has been electrified and is independent from the engine. The water pump used to cool electronic equipment that generates large volumes of heat has also been electrified.

(Source: Nissan press materials)


A small lithium-ion battery (1.47 kWh) and the controller substrate are mounted under the passenger seat. The case of the controller and the battery are made of aluminum.

(Car cutaway displayed by the Saitama Institute of Automotive Technology)

Honda Legend Hybrid

The car cutaway of the Honda hybrid model shows the electric motor added to the 1.5-liter gasoline engine mated to a 7-speed DCT transmission. A long power cable connects the motor to the battery (mounted in the rear of the vehicle). Along with the battery, the rear of the vehicle also houses electronic substrates such as the battery ECU and a DC-DC converter. As much as possible, the components are made of aluminum to dissipate heat.

(Car cutaway displayed by the Saitama Institute of Automotive Technology) (Battery displayed by the Saitama Institute of Automotive Technology)


 In the engine compartment, there are more electrified auxiliary components such as the air conditioner compressor, water pump, and electric servo brake. The 7-speed DCT has a built-in motor and is equipped with many actuators.

(7-speed DCT with motor displayed by the Saitama Institute of Automotive Technology)

Nissan Leaf teardown, Toyota SAFETY SENSE P commentary, etc.

The display panels exquisitely captured the essence of the teardown analyses conducted by Nikkei Electronics for the Nissan Leaf and Toyota's "Toyota Safety Sense P" ADAS system.

(Nikkei Electronics Corporation display panel)


The TECHNO-FRONTIER 2018 exhibition showed the direction of manufacturing in Japan that continues to produce excellent, high-quality products, sticking to the basics of engineering even in the age of electrification and autonomous driving.


TECHNO-FRONTIER, Teardown, EV, PHV, HV, ICE, 48V, downsizing, lightweight, Aluminum, Honda, Nissan, e-Power, LEAF, Toyota Safety Sense P, ADAS

<Automobile Industry Portal MarkLines>