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Rheinmetall Automotive's Electric Journey.

Water, oil and vacuum pumps. Solenoid valves. Actuators. Pistons. Engine blocks and heads. Plain bearings. Pistons. Lots of pistons.

These are the many products that Rheinmetall Automotive ( has been producing for a number of years.

One of the things it has been doing during the past two decades is transforming various pumps into electrified versions so as to improve the overall energy efficiency of the components. For example in 1995 it launched an electrically commutated water-recirculation pump. In 2004 it started transforming products like coolant pumps into electrified versions so as to reduce the energy losses associated with the use of drivebelts which operate even if not needed for function. Its first all-electric cooling pump was deployed by BMW that year.

It turns out that the company's Pierburg subsidiary plant in Hartha, Saxony, Germany, from where those two development emerged, developed expertise in making products that are electrified.

As time has gone on, Rheinmetall Automotive has developed electric oil and vacuum pumps, electric coolant valves and actuators, and an electric air conditioning compressor with a heat-pump module.

And the Pierburg Hartha personnel have become more adept at producing electric motors, such that they've come up with a 90-kW electric drive motor. That's right: they've gone from making comparatively tiny electric motors to drive pumps and valves to a motor that can be used to drive a vehicle.

It is a synchronous permanent magnet motor. It has a polyphase design and features a concentrated winding for optimum space utilization.

In addition to which, the company has taken its knowledge of developing aluminum structures and has developed an underfloor battery pack unit into which OEMs can install their battery modules of choice. This structure features a battery cooling system.

And the Automotive part of the Rheinmetall organization is borrowing from its sibling company, Rheinmetall Defence ( the battery structure which has a composite-fiber cover on its underside to protect it from intrusion. It is the same type of material used to create explosion resistance for military vehicles.

Clearly, this is a company that understands the importance of leveraging its capabilities across the board.

It is also a company that, while advancing the technologies that it can offer the industry, is cognizant of the fact that electromobility may not exactly be right around the next bend.

As is pointed out in its most recent annual report: "According to data from the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), out of a total of approximately 45 million passenger cars in the Federal Republic of Germany in January 2016, 25,502 vehicles were equipped with an electric drive and 130,365 vehicles with a hybrid drive. Although almost all the manufacturers have announced further electric vehicle models, the proportion of electric vehicles is set to increase only slowly. The combustion engine will remain the main drive system for the transportation of passengers and goods for the foreseeable future."

That said, when the OEMs are ready, Rheinmetall Automotive will be, too.

Caption: A battery pack design from Rheinmetall Automotive uses an aluminum structure and a protective cover that uses anti-ballistic technology from its sister firm Rheinmetall Defence.

Caption: A 90-kW high-voltage motor developed by Rheinmetall Automotive. The technology approach for the motor grew out of the deep knowledge that the company has gained through the production of sub-fractional kW motors for under-the-hood pumps and other applications.
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Title Annotation:GEAR: NOTABLE
Author:Vasilash, Gary S.
Publication:Automotive Design & Production
Date:Dec 1, 2017
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