From niche to mainstream: In the pandemic hit automotive markets, the electric drive has made signiﬁcant gains almost everywhere around the world. For instance, electric passenger cars have doubled their market share in Europe to around 4 percent. Pedelecs were so popular in 2020 that, for some models, customers were prepared to accept delivery times of several months—something that used to be the case only for exclusive sports cars. At the same time, large logistics companies announced plans to speed up the electriﬁcation of their vehicle ﬂeets. In recent years, MAHLE has already helped to usher in generation electric’s leap forward. With motors and the associated power electronics, the company is increasing driving pleasure and propulsion efﬁciency—not only for battery electric vehicles but also for hybrids of all performance levels. Added to this are electric auxiliaries, actuators, and valves—for steering assistance or controlling air conditioning circuits, for example. And last but not least, thermal management systems keep cabins warm while batteries and powertrains stay cool. These also include electric coolant pumps that provide cooling for drive motors and batteries in both battery electric and fuel cell vehicles.
Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement. That’s why the technology supplier pooled this essential expertise for the future in the Electronics and Mechatronics business unit in 2020. The unit’s development network is already working on a generation to come, which promises to offer an even better ﬁt with people’s lives and with the requirements of logistics specialists. The most important objective is that using an electric vehicle should be just as ﬂexible as using an equivalent with a combustion engine. For example, instead of simply making batteries larger and larger, MAHLE’s engineers are primarily focused on increasing their charging speed.
In the future, it should be possible to feed enough electricity into the cells of a battery in 15 minutes to cover a cruising range of 500 kilometers. This will be achieved by means of two technological innovations. First, a new-generation battery will prevent heat from accumulating in the battery. The battery cells will no longer only be cooled from below via a plate; instead, they will be embedded in a matrix, which will circulate coolant around the cells from all sides. By using this technique, known as immersion cooling, much more heat can be dissipated in a short time, paving the way for unlimited, ultrafast charging. Second, MAHLE aims to play a role in raising the voltage level of the entire powertrain of future electric cars to 800 volts. Doubling the voltage means that double the electricity can ﬂow into the same conductors in the same amount of time.
So that all customers around the world can beneﬁt from these advantages, MAHLE combines the knowledge of thousands of engineers across all its locations. They pool their expertise in mechatronics and electronics to create a constant stream of new innovations. How? That will be revealed on a visit to three locations.