Until now, electric driveshafts included three of the most important components of a drive system: the electric motor, the transmission and the power electronics. in new Schaeffler 4in1 electric axle (4in1 E-Axle) adds a fourth component that integrates with the others: the thermal management system, giving rise to a more compact and lighter set which has an impact on greater autonomy and a higher charging speed for electric cars that implement it.
At the Symposium for Electric Vehicles in Oslo, Schaeffler has presented a range of electric drive solutions including this electric driveshaft called 4in1 E-Axle, which is still in development. Schaeffler describes it as his drivetrain for electric cars. most complete to date.
Besides of electric motor, power electronics and transmission componentswhich in electric axles are usually integrated into a single component, the new 4-in-1 system also includes the thermal management system. Thanks to the high degree of integration, it is possible, among other things, to save space and weight in this component.
Schaeffler further ensures that the thermal management system is particularly efficientwhich results in the electric vehicle that drives it implement will increase its autonomy and will recharge its battery faster. The reduction in energy consumption is 14% thanks to the fact that, on the one hand, the residual heat generated in the engine is used and, on the other hand, the use of a new CO heat pumptwo.
Combustion engines are very energy inefficient machines, which translates into the generation of a lot of waste heat which can be used to introduce it into the heating circuit. In electric motors, just the opposite happens. They are so efficient the excess energy that is transformed into waste heat is very low. Schaeffler claims that heat in the electric car is a “scarce and valuable commodity.”
This heat is necessary, among other things, to heating the cabin or battery compartment. This must reach its optimal temperature and operation to optimize the autonomy and performance of fast charging. If the available heat cannot be used, it must be generated with the energy contained in the battery, which results in an increase in energy consumption.
“The thermal management system has a significant influence on the efficiency and comfort of the vehicle,” says Jochen Schröder, Director of Electromobility at Schaeffler. With the 4in1 E-Axle “a highly integrated and compact complete system is created, requiring much less space than non-integrated solutions,” he adds.
By including the thermal management system with the rest of the components, unnecessary hoses and cables are eliminated, which reduces energy losses in the form of heat. “In addition to the compact design, the biggest advantage of the 4-in-1 system is the optimized interaction of the individual subsystems,” explains Schröder. During its development, the engineers take into account both the thermal behavior of the individual components of the transmission, the electric motor or the power electronics, as well as the most efficient and complete thermal management of the entire vehicle.
A intelligent control system ensures that excess heat is efficiently dissipated from the power electronics and electric motor and used to heat the vehicle interior. The system also increases efficiency by using a new heat pump, which works with carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide not only has less of an impact on the environment than conventional refrigerant, it also has physical characteristics that allow vehicles to be heated and cooled more efficiently.
“Our 4-in-1 electric axle with an integrated thermal management system achieves a higher level of efficiency than the complete system,” says Schröder, who claims that a higher level of efficiency is possible. efficiency up to 96% in an optimally designed system.
The potential customer for the 4in1 E-Axle are both traditional automakers as well as start-ups. Its implementation would shorten the development time of its vehicles and save costs that could be invested in further development of drive systems. “Electric axles are a key element of our electric mobility strategy,” says Matthias Zink, Member of the Executive Board for Automotive Technologies at Schaeffler.
In addition to these highly integrated units, Schaeffler continues to offer its customers individual components or subsystems, including drive axles with two or three subsystems. With its extensive portfolio, Schaeffler can supply components for the entire range of vehicles on the market, from passenger cars to light commercial vehicles.
They are also new electric rigid axles for vans called Beam E-Axle. The particularity of this 3-in-1 system, which includes the electric motor, power electronics and transmission, is that they are up to two meters wide. In the future, Schaeffler will supply them to automakers, especially in North America. According to the supplier, he has already received the first orders.
In the press release announcing the new products that Schaeffler has presented at the Symposium for Electric Vehicles in Oslo no technical data provided on the performance of the 4in1 E-Axle and the Beam e-Axle.