Behind the flowery nameplates on the automobiles we purchase — Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and extra — is a whole trade that provides the elements and parts that make these automobiles what they’re. From seats and radios to touchscreens, windshields, and tires, suppliers convey the parts wanted to fabricate cars on to the loading docks of car factories all over the world. The most effective of them are identified collectively as Tier One suppliers, and inside that group, Germany’s ZF is without doubt one of the better of the very best, together with different distinguished firms equivalent to Bosch, Magna Worldwide, and Siemens.
ZF has 165,000 workers worldwide and operates 168 manufacturing places in 32 international locations. In fiscal 12 months 2022, ZF reported gross sales of €43.8 billion. On its homepage, it describes itself as a world expertise firm supplying methods for passenger automobiles, industrial autos, and industrial expertise, enabling the subsequent era of mobility.
ZF permits autos to see, assume, and act. Within the 4 expertise domains of Automobile Movement Management, Built-in Security, Automated Driving, and Electrical Mobility, ZF gives complete product and software program options for established automobile producers. The corporate is utilizing a Porsche Taycan it calls EVbeat as a check mattress for a collection of recent merchandise for electrical automobiles.
With regard to advancing the reason for electrical mobility, ZR introduced on June 29 a brand new built-in drive unit for electrical automobiles that weighs much less and has increased torque than any of its rivals. “Sustainable mobility is on the core of our company technique,” defined Stephan von Schuckmann, a member of the ZF Board of Administration liable for electrified driveline methods. “Based mostly on a particularly environment friendly manufacturing automobile, we’re displaying the potential that future electrical drive parts provide once we mix them into an much more environment friendly general system.”
The corporate says its EVSys800 is a modular 800 volt drive unit that comes with silicon carbide energy electronics with the electrical motor and a discount gearbox. In comparison with its present 800 volt drive unit, the EVSys800 is 40 kilograms (88 lb) lighter, which might result’s a considerably lighter powertrain. Much less weight beneath the hood means extra capability for folks and issues inside.
The unit has a steady energy score of 206 kW with a peak of 275 kW. Most torque is alleged to be 70 Newton-meters per kilogram of weight. At 74 kilograms, which means the EVSys800 has over 5000 Newton-meters of torque accessible on the drive axle. The brand new bundle is 50 mm narrower than the present unit, due to a extra compact discount gearbox and the ZF-patented “Braided Winding” expertise used to make the electrical motor.
Such a excessive energy drive unit is able to producing a lot of warmth throughout full energy operation. To deal with that, ZF directs cooling oil to movement straight across the copper rods contained in the motor, which is the place many of the warmth is generated. The extremely environment friendly cooling system considerably will increase efficiency with out rising the scale or weight of the drive unit.
The brand new unit additionally eliminates the necessity for uncommon earth supplies so the electrical motor may be manufactured in a extra sustainable method. The “Braided Winding” expertise developed and patented by ZF is an additional growth of so-called wave winding, and allows a ten% discount within the house wanted contained in the motor housing. It additionally reduces the quantity of copper required by about 10%. The inverter of the electrical drive has been fully redesigned, as have all different important parts.
A brand new coaxial discount gearbox transmits the drive forces of the electrical motor through two planetary gear units. They not solely generate the specified ultimate drive ratio, but in addition carry out the totally built-in differential operate. In contrast with typical offset ideas, by which the enter and output shafts should not on the identical axis, the coaxial answer reduces weight and set up house necessities with out compromising on effectivity, noise, and vibration. Together with Braided Winding expertise, this drive may be made considerably shorter, permitting set up in virtually any automobile’s set up house.
“Our aim was to make this drive as compact and light-weight as doable whereas sustaining excessive driving dynamics and rising effectivity in actual world operation,” stated Dr. Otmar Scharrer, Head of Growth for Electrical Driveline Programs at ZF. “By way of torque density, we’re on the high of the rostrum once we evaluate ourselves with e-drives for passenger automobiles presently accessible available on the market. On the similar time, we paid robust consideration to the sustainability side throughout growth. With this method, we are able to completely meet the principle necessities of our prospects — particularly effectivity, efficiency and prices.” The primary manufacturing models of the brand new ZF driveline can be accessible starting in 2026.
Revised Heating & Cooling System
Heating and cooling can drain a number of energy from the batteries of electrical automobiles. Not solely does the passenger compartment want to remain at a cushty temperature, the battery pack should even be cooled throughout excessive energy charging, or heated in chilly climate.
Along with its new EVSys800 energy unit, ZF has additionally developed a digitally managed built-in heating and cooling system known as TherMaS that’s mild weight and compact sufficient to suit into most of as we speak’s autos. The guts of the system is an 800 volt warmth pump that makes use of propane because the refrigerant.
It could sound counterintuitive to make use of a fossil gasoline in an electrical automobile, however propane warmth pumps are among the many best accessible as we speak. Effectivity is the primary precedence for electrical autos so as to journey lengthy distances with out recharging. ZF says the TherMaS system can improve the vary of an electrical automobile by as a lot as a 3rd throughout chilly climate operation.
The TherMaS idea has three designated circuits. On the heart is the very small refrigerant circuit that’s pre-filled and hermetically sealed to make it maintenance-free. As well as, the idea has no interfaces to different automobile areas, equivalent to the inside. ZF makes use of the fluorine-free pure refrigerant propane. The brand new system makes use of solely half as a lot refrigerant as a standard warmth pump, but delivers twice as a lot cooling energy. The system is designed to satisfy each the comparatively excessive temperatures of the electrical motor and regulate the temperature of the facility and charging electronics. The management software program regulates the cooling capability.
Digital Management Programs & The Cloud
ZF has developed its personal powertrain software program that networks all automobile methods with one another and establishes the connection to the ZF cloud. The corporate says its new software program bundle can anticipate the optimum working temperatures for any electrical automobile based mostly upon the driving profiles or particular person drivers, and put together the system accordingly. For instance, air con and system cooling are diminished when quick distances are detected.
The digital help system may also give drivers direct recommendation on methods to use the electrical automobile effectively. For instance, environment friendly acceleration and deceleration in addition to an optimized most velocity are displayed, which is especially beneficial on the subject of calculating an correct and sensible vary earlier than a journey begins.
ZF doesn’t construct automobiles, it makes the parts that permit automakers to supply higher automobiles — and tenting trailers. As we speak, many firms favor to convey their provide chains in home. Tesla, for instance, doesn’t purchase seats from a provider. It makes them itself to its personal specs. And but, an outdoor provider like ZF might be able to use economies of scale to make parts accessible for much less value than a producer can obtain by constructing them itself.
It’s a fragile dance, however ZF has risen to the extent of a high tier provider by delivering high quality merchandise on time and on funds. If it might construct a greater drive unit, cooling system, or cloud-based bundle, its repute will guarantee it at all times has loads of prospects. And never each firm needs to go the vertical integration route. Analysis and growth is dear, and if a trusted accomplice is prepared to do the heavy lifting, the producer could get a superior product at a relative discount.
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