Early one morning in August 1888, Bertha Benz set off on an adventure that would change people’s lives. At the wheel of the Benz “patent motor car” model 3, she undertook the first long-distance road trip in automotive history, from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back again. By driving these 180 kilometers, she proved for the first time that the automobile had a big future ahead of it. Just like back then in 1888, society is today facing a fundamental change in the very nature of mobility. Whereas then, the shift was from coach to automobile, now it is completely new mobility concepts and technologies that are set to permanently change what is a key industry in many countries. The example of Bertha Benz shows that believing in one’s own innovations as well as courage and staying power play an important role in achieving commercial success.
The force of change is also what is driving ElringKlinger, as the current transformation in the automobile industry is breaking up established processes, structures, and systems and calls for strategic realignment. This is a key challenge that the ElringKlinger Group has been helping to resolve for more than two decades, as it is the company’s declared objective to steer its technological expertise successfully into the future.
The development of the automobile has been remarkable. Whereas a good 130 years ago, Bertha Benz drove her combustion-engine-powered car noisily over stony tracks at around 20 km/h, modern electric cars can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4 seconds and reach top speeds of around 200 km/h with hardly any noise.
Modern electric cars achieve this enormous power needed to accelerate the vehicle using an integrated electric drive unit in which electric motor, transmission, and drive shaft are combined into one unit. The electric drive unit contains both the power electronics and the overall drive control system and converts the direct current of the high-performance battery into three-phase AC power. The electric motor in turn converts this electrical energy into mechanical energy so that the transmission can transfer the torque to the wheels.
The products installed in electric cars must meet stringent requirements, because both speed and torque are many times higher than the respective requirements for a combustion engine. In this area, ElringKlinger is leveraging its extensive experience in punching, embossing, forming, and coating to transfer knowledge from the combustion engine environment to the new drive concepts. As regards the electric drive unit, for example, this knowledge is being applied systematically to develop and manufacture dynamic precision parts and customized sealing solutions.