The car manufacturer, Renault, is showing two series production electric cars, Kangoo Z.E. and Fluence Z.E., at the Frankfurt International Motor Show 2011. Each electric car will be equipped with Continental’s drive motor, power electronics and electric vehicle controller. Continental has established a state-of-the-art production facility in Gifhorn for the electric motors. "Electric motors are an integral element of our modular system which also includes the power electronics, the battery, and the entire powertrain management", explained José Avila, Member of the Executive Board and Head of Continental’s Powertrain Division.
Renault uses Continental motors with power outputs of up to 70kW / torque of up to 226 Nm.Compared with a traditional combustion engine which, excluding the transmission, weighs between 80kg (for a 1.2L engine) and 150kg (for a 2L engine), Continental’s electric motor is far lighter weighing only 77kg.
The electric motor is coupled to an integral single-gear transmission, a differential, and to Continental’s components, the power electronics and electric vehicle controller. Continental is producing the motor in Gifhorn, currently with a capacity of some 60,000 units. These figures are evidence of the potential which Continental predicts for electromobility. "We want to see electric vehicle technology on the road as soon and as comprehensively as possible" said Avila. More than€12 million has been invested in the new production line in Gifhorn, providing jobs for over 40 employees.
The electric motor, transmission, differential and parking lock are all accommodated in a single housing, saving space in the Renault powertrains. As for the drive unit, Continental has opted for an externally – excited synchronous motor. Compared with a permanent magnet electric motor, this technology offers an better overall level of efficiency across the whole of an electric vehicle’s operating range, and also enhances the safety of the electric drive system.In addition,no expensive rare earth metals are needed for magnets.
The externally – excited synchronous motors in the Renault models are the first of their type to be used in high volume series vehicle production.
The installed Continental power electronic, already a second generation product, has been developed from a flexible modular system. It is about 30 percent more compact than the first generation which Continental already installs in several series production hybrid vehicles. Integrating the inverter and converter has contributed to most of this reduction in size.
Continental also drew on its expertise in the development of the electric vehicle controller.It is derived from a conventional engine control unit for combustion engines that has been mass produced in large quantities for some time. In electric vehicles, the control unit is responsible for the energy flow and performance of the electric engine. It functions by registering the driver’s instructions and passing them on to the electric engine as a torque request.
Now that production of electric motors has begun, Continental has all the key components of an electrified powertrain in its portfolio. Continental also offers several other types of electric motor in addition to externally – excited synchronous motors. These include permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMSM) and induction motors (IM) that are built for cost conscious applications. Thanks to its own wide-ranging expertise and in-house manufacturing capacity, combined with close cooperation with vehicle manufacturers, Continental is able to produce complete electric powertrains under one roof.