Global supplier Schaeffler has been named this year’s winner of the Automotive INNOVATIONS award in the drives category, a recognition that has been awarded by the Center of Automotive Management (CAM) and the auditing and consulting company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) since 2012.
The jury recognized the innovative combination of Schaeffler’s continuously variable transmissions (CVT) transmission with a hybrid function – an integrated electric motor. This transmission is characterized by particularly low energy losses as well as an extremely compact design, which offers a decisive advantage in terms of its design envelope and weight savings.
Schaeffler CEO Automotive Matthias Zink accepted the prize at the award ceremony in Frankfurt. Journalist and television presenter Barbara Hahlweg, who was hosting the ceremony, asked Zink if the continuously variable automatic transmission, which has been more prevalent in Asia than in Europe so far, was going to change with Schaeffler’s CVT hybrid transmission.
“As a supplier, we are challenged to develop innovative solutions for the mobility of tomorrow and, as a technology partner, implement them in accordance with our customers’ requirements,” said Zink. “The combination of an electric drive with a CVT automatic transmission is a promising and attractive technical solution for the increasing trend towards plug-in hybrids. Our plug-in hybrid concept based on a CVT is a compact design that can achieve a particularly long electric driving range thanks to low energy losses and offers a high level of driving comfort, which is typical of CTVs.”
These features are important criteria for automobile manufacturers and drivers alike and the concept is aligned with future trends, such as autonomous driving, as the continuously variable design of the electric motor works in perfect harmony with the CVT transmission, offering high levels of comfort. The high system performance also caters to customers’ requirements for driving pleasure.
Hybrids’ breakthrough assisted by the high-volume market
Schaeffler has designed this plug-in hybrid concept on the basis of a CVT for high-volume B and C-segment vehicles.
“It is of immense importance that these segments are catered-to if the topic of hybrid vehicles is to gain universal acceptance,” said Zink. “Legal regulations are becoming increasingly stringent worldwide, and this means that consumers need to change their way of thinking and accept new solutions.”
Suppliers’ ranges are versatile
In the category for suppliers at the Automotive INNOVATIONS Awards, a high-ranking jury judged 281 individual innovations from suppliers based on feedback from automobile manufacturers. The suppliers’ innovations were assessed with regard to their future technical relevance.
Felix Kuhnert, head of automotive at PwC, said, “Without the high level of suppliers’ innovative strength in the fields of automotive engineering and materials and processes, the rapid progress in the automobile industry would not be possible. And especially since automobile manufacturers have been focusing on developing new business and distribution models, suppliers are assuming an increasingly important role in the development and production of vehicles. Today, creative suppliers who market their ideas proactively have higher chances for success than ever before.”
Professor Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management, added, “Suppliers have the potential to rank among the winners of this ‘major transformation’ in the automobile industry. Not only will they become increasingly indispensable for the development of groundbreaking future technologies but they will also expand their customer spectrum to new players, such as Google, Apple, Uber or Baidu.”