Hard parts supplier Rheinmetall Automotive expects electrification to account for more than half of sales in 2020
Global Tier 1 supplier Rheinmetall Automotive—formerly KSPG and Kolbenschmidt Pierburg—expects electrification to account for more than half of its sales in 2020. Rheinmetall Automotive AG is the management company of the Automotive sector of Germany’s Rheinmetall Group. Sales amounted to around €2.6 billion (US$2.8 billion) in 2015, including around 16% from the companies located in NAFTA.
Rheinmetall Automotive is more known as a supplier of hard parts (e.g., pistons, blocks, cylinder heads, etc.) and mechatronics. However, said Horst Binnig, Rheinmetall Automotive CEO, “products with a cable” already constitute roughly 40% of the company’s total sales.
We really pure e-mobility more as an opportunity than a risk. The percentage of purely e-driven cars in the market today is very, very low. But the content per car in sales is comparatively high. As an example, those beautiful London cabs—the next series will be purely e-driven. We have four pumps in this car.—Horst Binnig
As another example, Binnig said, the drive unit block—an aluminum cast block—for an e-driven car that the company has currently in development for an unnamed customer weighs about the same as a four-cylinder combustion engine block. Further, the e-unit block has a sophisticated water jacket and 3D printed core.
For us, it makes no difference to cast a four-cylinder engine block for a combustion engine or to cast a block for a medium-size e-machine. There is also thermal management; you need the radiator, you need a couple of valves, you need pumps, you need power for that. You have a second thermal management circuit for the battery.
If I take a look at the products we currently supply for the purpose of optimizing the drive train on an internal combustion engine and compare these with what we currently have in our development pipeline for future types of drive systems, I arrive at a substantial growth in value. In terms of figures, this could be almost double our share of sales per unit. As early as 2020, electrification will account for over one-half of our sales.—Horst Binnig
Rheinmetall Automotive is currently working on castings for the battery holders of electric vehicles and on the highly complex, cooled aluminum housings for the electric drive units themselves. Added to these are the electrically powered auxiliary units, extremely lightweight structural parts, heat-pump components and range extenders.
A member of the Rheinmetall Automotive Group, castings specialist KS HUAYU AluTech GmbH (a joint venture between Rheinmetall Automotive and HUAYU Automotive Systems, a part of China’s SAIC Group), has been awarded a major contract for the manufacture of components for battery boxes made from aluminum die-castings. Start of production for this order worth a total €65 million is mid-2018.
Weighing around nine kilograms, these components serve to hold the rechargeable battery cells installed in two electrically powered vehicles of this OEM—a crossover SUV and a high-power sports limousine. Both feature all-electric drive and are presently destined for the European market.
Conventional efficiency. Rheinmetall Automotive is of course continuing its development of its more conventional “efficiency” products, designed to support present and future combustion engined drive systems through lightweight engineering, thermal management, friction and emission reduction, downsizing and turbo-charging—as well as the electrification of auxiliary units.
At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Rheinmetall showcased lightweight structural parts and components in aluminum as well as the company’s Liteks piston family. The Liteks design, which is repeatedly being fine-tuned, has been developed specifically for lightweight, low-friction yet rugged gasoline pistons for car engines.
Also on show were other pistons with rings, the outcome of the global strategic cooperation with Japan’s Riken Corporation. The newest-generation engine plain bearings were also showcased.
For thermal management, Rheinmetall Automotive displayed a new kind of solenoid valve that, if needed, will stop the piston crown from being cooled. Another part of this year’s show presentation was devoted to exhaust-gas recirculation on gasoline engines.
The exhibits comprise types of valves for turbo-chargers including an extremely compact exhaust-gas recirculation valve which helps save fuel on both normally aspirated and, especially, turbocharged engines. This valve is already in series production in the US
Other significant exhibits were the oil, water and vacuum pumps which, electrically driven, act independently of the engine load and hence lower fuel consumption and emissions.