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MAHLE Developing High-Voltage Traction Motors for Electric Vehicles

The company also is developing 48-volt drive motors for new-generation hybrids.

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MAHLE is developing high-voltage traction motors for fully electrified vehicles (EVs) as well as 48-volt drive motors for new-generation hybrids, according to the company.

J.D. Kehoe, director of product development, filtration and engine peripherals for MAHLE Filter Systems in North America, said more internal-combustion engine (ICE) downsizing, 48-volt hybridization and electric traction motors are all affecting powertrain development.

MAHLE produces high-voltage and low-voltage traction motors for full-size vehicles, as well as for off-road two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive leisure vehicles.

“Downsized internal-combustion engines with higher compression, advanced combustion, high boost and electrified turbocharger actuation will be part of the automotive landscape for decades to come,” Kehoe said. “Smaller engines, for example, are expected to deliver 300 horsepower and 30 miles per gallon with a third less displacement.”

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The MAHLE Group has components on 50 percent of the vehicles annually produced worldwide, according to the company.

Kehoe noted that 48-volt electrical systems also are gaining acceptance. To meet the challenge, MAHLE has developed electrified HVAC systems and electric auxiliary components such as electric oil coolers and hydraulic pumps. Even electrified riding mowers and material handling equipment have become more common.

MAHLE’s 48-volt drive systems are supplied with integrated electronics to govern a typical output of 14 kW (19 horsepower) and have been demonstrated on passenger vehicles such as the SMART.

EVs, whether the Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf or Tesla, have achieved high market profiles, though actual sales hover at 2 to 3 percent of global deliveries, Kehoe said. On the other hand, analyst Alix Partners estimates that by 2023, more than 205 EV models will have entered the market.

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MAHLE’s high-voltage traction motors for automobiles employ imbedded permanent magnet (IPM) technology. The motors are liquid-cooled and are governed by MAHLE-designed-and-patented liquid-cooled controllers.

Manufacturers may specify voltages from 200 to 400 volts, based on a motor’s battery pack. Power delivered by each motor, up to 100 kW (134 horsepower), will depend on vehicle design.

MAHLE also offers automakers higher-voltage motors. These IPM motors operate in the 400- to 800-volt range, with up to 96-percent efficiency and peak power output up to 180 kW, or 240 horsepower. The design is flexible and adaptable to customer requirements.

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