MOTOR Magazine

A MOTOR Magazine Newsletter
February 1, 2017

Contributed by Bob Chabot
Electrifying Tomorrow’s Powertrains

There’s a brave new world at hand; it’s electrified, automated and connected

Robert Bosch LLC, like many other major automotive suppliers, is well aware of the industry’s transition from conventional to electrified transportation. At the 2017 North American International Auto Show, the company introduced eAxle, developed in conjunction with Getrag, a new electric drive unit for powertrains, which may well push that trend forward. But the Tier One supplier didn’t stop there.

Bosch introduced a suite of electrified technologies at the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. (All images — Robert Bosch LLC)

“Through feedback from our OEM partners and Bosch consumer research, we are seeing that electrification is moving to prominence,” said Mike Mansuetti, president of Robert Bosch LLC. “So at NAIAS, we wanted to showcase solutions making electrification accessible to the masses so that automakers can deliver on the promise of this technology to mainstream consumers.

“For example, new research from Bosch showed 62 percent of U.S. new car buyers believe they will own at least one full-electric vehicle in their household within 10 years or less. Of those who anticipate having a full-electric vehicle in their household at any point in their lifetime, 71 percent believe all of their household vehicles will be full-electric vehicles within 15 years.”

He acknowledged that while new car buyers have demonstrated a growing desire to purchase full-electric vehicles, Bosch is also cognizant of existing market realities. For instance, a significant subset of respondents, 32 percent, indicated they are not interested in purchasing or leasing a full-electric vehicle within the next 15 years, signaling a preference toward other powertrain options. To that end, Bosch must assist automakers in addressing several consumer anxieties, such as vehicle reliability, distance between recharging stops, time required to recharge, new car purchase price and repair/maintenance costs.

According to Robert Bosch, the new “fully integrated eAxle powertrain” is 20 percent smaller than conventional electric vehicle powertrains and has a significantly lower production cost. (All images — Robert Bosch LLC)

eAxle Technology Offers a Viable Electric Powertrain Choice
“Bosch’s electric axle drive system makes electrification accessible by automakers,” Mansuetti shared. “The eAxle unit provides automakers the flexibility needed for multiple platforms and brings together other top-of-the-line Bosch powertrain components into one system. In addition, it is a lighter weight, scalable, modular platform that can bring 5-10 percent cost efficiency, when compared to other stand-alone components.

Of note, scalability is especially important, as automotive OEMs require compact, cost-optimized solutions for both battery electric vehicle and hybrid applications that will make these technologies more accessible by more consumers. The Bosch eAxle system provides scalability via electro-magnetic layout options, inverter power scaling, and an optimized single speed transmission. In addition, Bosch’s motor simulation technology ensures a highly optimized motor design.

While Bosch didn’t release full specifications for the new ‘eAxle’ drive unit at NAIAS, it did provide an overview. A complete stand-alone version, eAxle permits a ‘through-the-road’ hybrid solution for existing conventionally driven vehicles with or without mechanical all-wheel-drive function. A high-voltage (starter-motor) generator — connected to the combustion engine and interacting with it — permits purely electric all-wheel-drive on medium off-road terrain independent of the storage accumulator.

In large part, cost and space reduction were facilitated by the elimination of conventional power takeoff units, associated transfer cases and propshafts. Combined, these also offset the additional weight of the hybrid components inherent to eAxle. In addition, depending on the power, torque and speed required by certain applications, a two-speed eAxle can also be developed.

“From the customer’s point of view this results in a good cost-benefit ratio because all-wheel-drive functions such as improved traction and Active Torque Control are united with the hybrid functions of boost, recuperation and electrical driving,” Mansuetti explained. “From an automaker’s perspective, the standardization of the single speed eAxle’s electrical components considerably reduces development expenses and manufacturing costs.

Although Bosch didn’t release full specifications for the new eAxle drive unit at NAIAS, it did share an image displaying some of the eAxle system’s primary features.

eAxle Accommodates Automated and Connected Technologies
“The eAxle system is not only flexible for multiple platforms, it is compatible with other electrified, automated and connected technologies Bosch introduced at NAIAS 2017,” Mansuetti noted. “In particular, Bosch is developing and introducing driving technologies that enable a more comfortable, convenient and accident-free future.” He then discussed several examples.

Safety Via Redundancy — Like modern passenger aircraft, automated driving will require multiple redundant fall back systems to ensure occupant safety. Bosch unveiled its next generation Electric Power Steering (EPS) system with fail-safe operational functionality. This advanced safety feature provides fall back redundancy that enables either a driver or auto pilot system, regardless of powertrain type, to independently return to a minimal risk condition while maintaining about 50 percent electric steering support in the rare case of a single failure. This technology will enable OEMs to comply with the fall back strategies for future vehicles, as proposed in the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy documents from the U.S. Department of Transportation and National Traffic Highway Safety Association (NHTSA).

Bosch's next generation Electronic Power Steering system already meets safety fall back redundancy measures NHTSA may soon require.

Range Anxiety and Battery Charging Addressed — Bosch introduced two new technologies at NAIAS that addressed these two major barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles. One was its Thermal Management Station, a holistic thermal management approach onboard electric vehicles that makes heating in the winter and cooling in the summer cost effective and energy efficient.

The thermal management system features precisely controllable heat pumps, fans and valves that collect heat and cold at the source and transport them to where they are needed. The need for heating and cooling is additionally reduced by the use of waste heat from the electric motor and the power electronics, plus controlled air circulation that draws moisture from the air. The pump makes use of the small amount of heat that is generated in an electric vehicle.

Bosch’s thermal management system features precisely controllable heat pumps, fans and valves that collect heat and cold at the source and transport them to where they are needed. For example, heat is released when supplying the electric motor with electricity. When braking energy is converted into electricity and fed into the battery, usable heat is again created. This is also the case when the battery has to be cooled in order to remain within the optimum operating window. According to Bosch, the new technology manages the heat flows in electric vehicles more efficiently and extends driving range by up to 25 percent, especially in winter driving conditions.

Bosch also showcased its new compact Level 2 / 240V Electric Vehicle Charging Station, which lets the user choose between 12-32 amps of power, and can charge compatible electric vehicles up to five times faster than a standard 110V outlet.

End-to-End Security — Regardless of powertrain type, as more components inside the vehicle start relying on loads of data and connections to outside services, there will be a necessity to ramp up security to maintain a reasonable amount of protection. Bosch thinks it can solve that issue with its new Central Connected Gateway (CGW), which acts as the gatekeeper for a connected car's various services. The CGW is a central communication node on board the vehicles that acts as a router for in-vehicle communication and through the connectivity control unit (CCU) to the outside world.

The introduction of advanced vehicle communication technologies is about to vastly improve and safeguard communications to, from and within vehicles. The new technologies fall into two types — the ISO's Extended Vehicle Concept (preferred by many automakers) and the SAE's Secure Vehicle Interface (preferred by many aftermarket organizations). Both types are faster, capable of managing more than one user at a time and provide more secure than the current underdash 16-pin interface. Bosch introduced its version of the new technology, the Central Gateway (CGW) at NAIAS 2017.

The CGW serves as a central communication node and acts as gateway for all data, software and other information entering or exiting the vehicle. It connects to users in the outside world, for diagnostic and other queries, via a Connectivity Control Unit (CCU) Once connected to the outside world, the CGW then acts as a router for in-vehicle communication across various bus systems (Ethernet, CAN, LIN) to/from all domain electronic control units (ECUs). Click on it to view a Bosch animation of the CWG. (Video — Robert Bosch LLC)

In contrast to the existing, but archaic, underdash J1962 vehicle communications interface port, Bosch’s CGW is faster, provides more functionality (e.g. advanced safety audio-visual data formats), able to handle multiple users simultaneously, and heavily securitized. For example, the CGW utilizes firewall, intrusion detection, functional safety and other security protocols that safeguard all data coming into or out of the vehicle. It receives all external communications and filters it down to the various car components that need it. The technology is compatible with the new vehicle data, software and information communication standards and associated technology nearing completion later in 2017 that automakers will soon be implementing.

There are benefits to CGW that extend beyond security. Bosch says the CGW also enables secure software updates via the cloud or firmware over the air (FOTA) updates, in small enough chunks so a vehicle battery doesn't die over the course of an update. For example, the CGW would receive only the changes to the current code, and the gateway would be responsible for sending it to the relevant components and systems.

Click on the image above to view a Bosch animation of the Central Gateway unit. (Video — Robert Bosch LLC)

This will allow OEMs to provide consumers with improved service experiences. In many instances, automakers will be able to keep consumers’ vehicles up-to-date on an on-going basis, without the consumer having to visit a dealer or independent facility. For those instances that do require a visit to a service repair facility, CGW technology also accommodates remote diagnostics, which will give the consumer’s repair facility of choice an idea of what's up before the vehicle even arrives.

A brave new world is at hand. It just happens to be electrified, automated and connected. Automakers are preparing now. So are Bosch and other Tier One suppliers. What about you?

[Editor's note: Visit for the latest diagnostic and service insights.]

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