Leveraging its experience with electromobility components, Bosch has developed a new generation electric axle drive, or e-axle. The motor, power electronics, and transmission form one compact unit that directly drives the car’s axle. This makes the powertrain not only far more efficient, but more affordable as well.
Bosch has had electric axle drives in the market since 2012 (in the Peugeot 3008 and Fiat 500e, for example), but the power electronics was not fully integrated into them. With the new generation of the electric axle, Bosch is in the development phase, and is in contact with automakers from around the world. More precisely, samples of the electric axle are ready for use, and are currently being tested. Start of production is planned for 2019 at the latest.
With its e-axle, Bosch is applying the all-in-one principle to the powertrain.— Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector
The components are very flexible, which means the e-axle can be installed in hybrids and electric cars, compact cars, SUVs, and even light trucks. Economically speaking, the e-axle may turn out to be a major coup for Bosch.
|The electric axle drive system. Bosch has combined three powertrain components into one unit. Click to enlarge.|
On the world’s roads, there are already more than 500,000 electric and hybrid cars fitted with Bosch components. Bosch thus has many years of experience in the manufacture of electric motors, axle drives, and power electronics. The expertise it has gathered in the process is now bearing fruit in its newly developed electric axle. With this component alone, Bosch is hoping to generate sales running into the billions.
As Bosch customizes the powertrain to each automaker’s requirements, customers no longer have the time-consuming task of developing new components. Bosch already has a flexible, globally applicable manufacturing concept for this component. The concept guarantees that each customer will get a customized solution that can be quickly integrated into its manufacturing operations.
The e-axle’s USP is its high level of versatility, which means it can be adapted to many types of vehicles. All the customer has to do is state what performance, torque, and installation space they require, and Bosch then optimizes the rest of the powertrain to fit these parameters. In this way, a complete, customized powertrain can be delivered directly to an automaker’s assembly line.
The powertrain can deliver between 50 and 300 kW, and is therefore also capable of powering large vehicles such as SUVs completely electrically. Torque at the vehicle axle can range from 1,000 to 6,000 N·m. When installed in hybrid and electric vehicles, front- and rear-axle drive is possible.
An electric axle delivering 150 kilowatts weighs roughly 90 kilograms, and thus far less than the combined individual components used so far. Compared with competing products, the distinguishing feature of the Bosch electric axle is an especially high peak performance combined with a high level of continuous performance, the company claims. In other words, the electrical powertrain can accelerate better and maintain a high speed for a longer period. To achieve this, Bosch has not only redesigned the system as a whole, but also improved the motor and power electronics components.