June 30, 2021

Hybrid drive solutions – high diversity, complexity, and resulting opportunities

Despite many expectations towards an accelerated shift to e-mobility, there are still limits to pure electrification. Many OEMs opt for a step-by-step approach while aiming to reach sustainability and higher efficiency goals, without compromising performance – with hybrid drive solutions.
Hybrid drive solutions – high diversity, complexity, and resulting opportunities

Today, a handful of automakers are already leading the way in the fully electric powertrain segment and are setting out far-reaching electrification offensives for the coming years. Despite many expectations towards an accelerated shift to e-mobility, no matter whether the car is powered by electricity from the grid or other means, there are still limits to electrification, especially regarding the charging capabilities and charging station infrastructure. Also, not all car manufacturers will pursue the objective of fully electrifying their vehicles. Many opt for a step-by-step approach involving hybrid drive solutions to begin with while observing unfolding technological possibilities and tendencies as well as end-customers’ demands. Based on current market indications, the automotive industry will not become fully electric overnight. Hybrid systems will evolve further and might be the solution for many car producers in the meantime and even in the future.

The hybrid drive represents a blend of a conventional combustion engine and an electric motor, thus combining power and efficiency in one powertrain design. The surplus energy of the combustion engine is stored in a battery and used on demand by feeding energy stored in the battery to the electric motor, providing support in certain driving situations. For hybridisation, the industry can choose from various hybrid solutions, such as mild, plug-in, or full hybrids, to suit the individual applications. Different battery capacities allow for different lengths of purely electric operations. The main aim is to alternate between the operating modes so that the advantages are used effectively, and the disadvantages are compensated for.

Advantages of different hybrid technologies depending on the type of architecture can include:

  • Regenerative braking and kinetic energy recovery through recuperation – may be used to recharge the small battery
  • Acceleration support at the start
  • Local emission-free driving
  • A more dynamic and sporty driving experience, including faster speeds
  • Consumption control and reduction in plug-in hybrids, especially in city traffic, as the engine does not have to run in traffic jams (P2-P4 architectures)

In the future, various hybrid technologies, solutions and architectures are expected to be deployed in parallel and even more to emerge over time. The options of hybridisation are almost unlimited and there is no one-fits-all solution as different concepts can prove to be most efficient for different mobility segments and purposes. However, even though these solutions mark a promising intermediate step on the way to a more advanced, fully electric future mobility, there are some challenges linked to ongoing social, environmental, and economic changes as well as new product development and delivery expectations. At the same time, the complexity of technologies is growing and car makers feel the pressure to deliver new concepts on budget in short cycles. In addition, with the growing awareness for sustainability, an entirely new dimension of performance surfaces. Today, finding the next innovation and the best solutions is imperative to many OEMs. This increasing complexity increases the need for automation, optimised processes, modern tools and the right expertise.

To face these challenges and to prove true agility, OEMs rely on suppliers who can equip their fleets with the most suitable, innovative, and efficient systems and prepare their mobility portfolio for the future at any given moment. Our experts are here to achieve just that – maximum efficiency. hofer powertrain is prepared to address the challenges of our customers. Finding the best solutions often involves weighing up all requirements and given technological possibilities to find the best trade-off. Our approaches are designed to address multiple needs simultaneously: reduce emission levels, maintain or boost performance, increase comfort, bring electrification closer to the end-customer and allow OEMs to operate in compliance with environmental regulations. hofer powertrain engineers bring the right expertise and have the tools and systems to design in a target-oriented manner while managing new complexities and help to reach cost-and time-efficiency in projects.

hofer powertrain 8-gear-hybrid-DCT assembly

As a one-stop supplier of hybrid solutions and engineering services in this area, we offer:

  • In-depth process know-how (simulation, design, testing, industrialisation and production)
  • Development for different vehicle system architectures
  • Realisation of all hybrid drive systems and subsystems
  • Vehicle integration (functional integration, thermal integration and more)
  • Up to date methods and tools
  • We use our proven, trusted, and frequently updated toolchain or flexibly adapt and use customers toolchains, if required
  • Tailoring to market-specific demands with our global presence and a wide supplier network
  • Simulation-based approach already in prototype phases (fuel consumption simulations, efficiency characterisation and more)
  • Reduced development times with simulation-based approach and agile analysis throughout the entire duration of the project
  • Reduced number of interfaces that need to be managed due to our ready to use building blocks and lean system approach
  • Performance scalability and enhancement for future hybrid drive models

Get in touch with our experts and tell us more about your project objectives; hofer powertrain brings you up to speed with our production-ready or customised cutting-edge hybrid systems. Contact us via transmission@hoferpowertrain.com or visit our website.

In the next part of our electrification weeks, we will discuss different hybridisation approaches and architectures, point out their highlights and weaknesses, and present a variety of popular technologies from hofer powertrain. Stay tuned.

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