Electric Vehicles Come of Age - Wacker Chemie AG

Electric Vehicles Come of Age

In this eight-speed hybrid drive, the internal combustion engine and electric motor are connected in parallel and can be used individually or in combination.

Connecting Electric Motor and Conventional Engine in Parallel

But emissions and fuel consumption improve even when the drive is not completely electric. Hybrid vehicles, powered by a combination of one or more electric motors and a conventional ICE, emit 5% to 30% less carbon dioxide than their ICE peers, especially in urban traffic.

Not only politicians and traffic experts, but also increasingly managers within the auto industry are embracing the idea that electrifying the drivetrain of road vehicles is the key to eco-friendly travel in the future. With hybrid technology, electric vehicles are about to come of age.

Hybrid Power Classes: Full (strong) hybrids are more extensively electrified than mild hybrids. Plug-in hybrids have relatively large battery packs that can be charged by plugging them into a regular electric outlet. They can travel longer distances in electric mode than full hybrids.

A Productive Combination of Two Power Sources

Of all the various types of hybrid drives, the parallel variant is the most versatile. In a parallel hybrid, both the ICE and the electric motor deliver power to the drive shaft. Consequently, each is capable of providing propulsion, either separately or in tandem.

Electric Start-Stop Technology

The start-stop technology of a hybrid drive automatically turns off the engine when the vehicle stops, e.g. when the driver takes his foot off the gas pedal at traffic lights. The engine restarts automatically when the driver steps on the pedal again. The electric motor takes no more than 0.2 seconds to get the engine up to the necessary starting speed. The driver barely notices any delay at all, and there is no vibration or starter-motor sound. Start-stop technology saves on fuel and adds to comfort and convenience.

The Parallel Hybrid Concept

The term “parallel hybrid” spans a wide range of hybridization types currently being realized to varying degrees: mild hybrids, for example, feature automatic start-stop, engine-assist and recuperation of braking energy (see boxes and table). These features can reduce fuel consumption by up to 15%. A full (or strong) hybrid is able to drive additional short distances (up to five kilometers) under electric power alone and so cansave up to 30% fuel in urban traffic.

Most production hybrid vehicles are of the parallel type. And parallel hybrids are also the focus of Schweinfurt-based ZF Sachs AG, a leading manufacturer of drive and chassis components.