Track One at this year’s Conference @ EV Tech Expo will look at markets and applications. The plenary keynote session is ‘EV and Hybrid Market Future Trends’. Central to the various discussions will be trends in electrification and connectivity, as well as specific market drivers and cost considerations behind the technology choices and roadmaps that the industry is adopting. Our Conferences Director Mindy Emsley recently interviewed one of the keynote speakers, Continental’s Juergen Wiesenberger.
ME: Mindy Emsley
JW: Juergen Wiesenberger
ME: Please tell us about your role at Continental North America. What would you say most excites you about your role?
JW: I am responsible for all functions that make a business and product within Continental’s HEV operations in North America. This includes engineering, purchasing, quality, operations and customer relations. Working in and for the HEV market is one of the most exciting challenges I can think of. In order to achieve our goal of sustainable mobility, we constantly have to think outside of the box to come up with new and groundbreaking ideas that will have to be transformed into products in a very short timeframe.
ME: What are the key challenges and opportunities you face at present?
JW: One of the main challenges is that we have to create very complex and customer-specific products in very short product lifecycles – there are no mainstream or off-the-shelf products for what we do! This translates into high investment into engineering, plants and our own supplier base. However, we do see some excellent opportunities as well as a steep market growth in the not too distant future.
ME: The automotive status quo is being impacted by three technology-driven trends: autonomy, connectivity (on demand) and electrification. Some say that these disruptive trends will challenge traditional OEMs and their market dominance. What’s your view of the emerging technology landscape and what will differentiate successful players?
JW: We foresee that internal combustion engines, especially in combination with electrification, will continue to represent the majority of powertrains in the foreseeable future. There is no doubt that these trends will have an impact on the industry in general. However, only those who adapt quickly and provide safe as well as reliable products in high volumes will succeed in the market.
ME: Which technologies do you think will have most impact on the uptake of electric vehicles in the near and longer term, and why do you think they will have such an impact?
JW: It all comes down to battery technology. There are many challenges that need to be tackled: cost reduction, packaging, safety and of course fast-charging technology as well as an infrastructure that supports it. At the end of the day, we have to be able to eliminate the range anxiety that we see in many of today’s customers.
ME: The EV/HEV segment has seen multiple fragmented architectures develop. Do you foresee any consolidation in this space?
JW: We do indeed see the first signs of consolidation in this arena. 48V systems – often also referred to as mild hybrids – are well on track to becoming mainstream in the near future, as they benefit from a low system price and decent CO2 savings. Full HEVs, however, are still developing in a number of different directions: PHEV, dual-mode, power-split, range extenders, electronic all-wheel drive, just to name a few.
ME: Modular plug-and-play solutions seem to be gaining traction in the market. What’s driving this adoption and what is Continental’s position on modular solutions?
JW: Today’s HEV products are still highly customized and thus expensive. Standardization as well as modularization will be key factors in bringing the system costs down. Like I said before, only those who adapt quickly and provide safe as well as reliable products in high volumes will be successful in the market.
ME: What do you think is driving the adoption of 48V technology?
JW: 48V technology will be successful because it is a relatively simple solution that can easily be integrated into existing architectures. At a relatively low cost, it helps OEMs comply with CO2 and CAFE regulations.
ME: In your opinion, what will the optimum 48V architecture consist of?
JW: There are two architectures that are optimum for 48V: belt-driven starter generators in a P0 mild-hybrid architecture, and the P2 integrated starter mild-hybrid architecture.
ME: What other use cases for 48V does Continental foresee?
JW: 48V offers a wide variety of additional applications in the car, such as electric A/C compressors, liquid pumps, heated catalysts, front window heating, radiator cooling fans and e-compressors.
ME: We’re looking forward to your keynote presentation at the Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Tech Conference in September. Can you tell us what you are most looking forward to about the show?
JW: I’m looking forward to the exchange of opinions with peers from the industry, but also from academia and governing bodies.
Hear more from Juergen Wiesenverger on September 13th at Continental’s Technology Approach – From Energy Recuperation Toward Efficient and Clean Driving.