The best of both worlds

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Motorists want to enjoy driving, while the authorities demand low emissions. Although this seems like a conflict of interests, Schaeffler is set to unveil a plug-in hybrid concept based on a CVT (continuously variable transmission) that it claims appeases both consumers and regulators alike.

Plug-in hybrids are a new trend

There is a clear trend towards plug-in hybrids: The combination of an electric drive that can be charged from a power socket with an internal combustion engine is becoming increasingly popular. It therefore goes without saying that Schaeffler also supplies innovative technologies for this application. The combination of a hybrid drive with a CVT is not entirely new but, in the plug-in hybrid variation that Schaeffler is now presenting, it offers even more efficiency and reduced fuel consumption values. What is special about Schaeffler’s solution is the parallel arrangement of the variator and the direct gear stage for the electric drive. “Our concept is particularly compact and, due to its low energy losses, means that a long electric driving range can be achieved”, says Andreas Englisch, President of the Hybrid Drives business unit at Schaeffler. These features are important criteria for automobile manufacturers and drivers because, to put it simply, the further a vehicle can be driven on purely electric energy, the less fuel it consumes and the lower its emissions are.

The enjoyment factor is maintained

The electric motor used in the plug-in hybrid concept provides 80kW of power, while the turbocharged 1.4-liter internal combustion engine provides a further 110kW. When installed in this C-segment vehicle, Schaeffler’s plug-in hybrid concept makes it possible to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 7.8 seconds. And in all-electric mode, it can cover 56km when combined with an 8.7kWh battery, while the continuously variable transmission ensures excellent ride comfort. In hybrid mode (combined operation of the internal combustion engine and electric motor), compact vehicles achieve an NEDC consumption of 1.6l/ 100km – the equivalent of just 39g CO2/ km.

Hybrids’ breakthrough assisted by the high-volume market

Schaeffer has designed this plug-in hybrid concept on the basis of a CVT, for B and C-segment vehicles. “It is of immense importance that these segments be catered to if the topic of hybrid vehicles is to gain universal acceptance”, explains Dr. Hartmut Faust, vice president of Research and Development for Transmission Systems at Schaeffler. “Legal regulations governing CO2 emissions are becoming increasingly stringent worldwide, and this means that consumers need to change their way of thinking and accept new solutions.”

The combination of hybrid technologies with a CVT is a promising approach, even though this type of automatic transmission has thus far been more prevalent on the Asian market. Even in Europe, more and more drivers are becoming convinced of the advantages of driving without a clutch pedal. What is more, the era of the gas-guzzling automatic transmission is long gone. Modern automation concepts such as those on offer from Schaeffler provide an efficient service here. Another argument in favor of the CVT is the fact that the gear ratio is continuously adjusted with no interruption to the tractive force, which means that the engine can always be operated in the most favorable area of the datamap.

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About Author

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Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine of the Year Awards.

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