Electrify the world with your ideas - An interview with Dr. Tomas Smetana, Vice President Chassis Actuators
Mechanical engineering at Prague Technical University, Doctorate at Chemnitz Technical University
Director of Advanced Development for Transmission Applications, project manager for the active electric differential and Schaeffler ACTIVEeDRIVE.
Technology, do-it-yourself, riding racing bikes, jogging, nature
Why is Schaeffler committed to developing solutions and concepts for electric vehicles?
The electrification of vehicle drive trains is one of our considerations with regard to sustainable mobility for the coming decades. The future of electric mobility depends to a great extent on the progress made in the development of battery technology. Hybrid solutions will rapidly gain in importance. At the same time, energy-efficient and powerful drives will be required.
Schaeffler can fulfill this highly complex task exceptionally well by using its wide range of expertise both at the component and system level and in basic and product development through to manufacturing. This is in addition to the innovative strength of our highly qualifiied and committed team. We also require a large number of new colleagues to join our team due to our special commitment and growth in the area of electric mobility.
What actually are the advantages of the active electric differential? What does the driver feel?
In addition to the functions such as boost, all-electric driving and recuperation, the active electric differential enables so-called torque vectoring, i.e. an individual distribution of torque between the left and the right wheel. This significantly improves both traction and safety thereby counteracting understeer when cornering. The driver virtually has the feeling that he is driving "on rails".
An electric vehicle equipped with the active eDifferential is also more agile to drive. Torque vectoring helps to compensate for the handicap of a heavy high-voltage battery.
What is special about this Schaeffler innovation?
The most important innovation of the active eDifferential is the direct coupling of the electric drive with a torque vectoring functionality. The special feature is that in contrast to conventional systems, torque vectoring is carried out electromechanically and not hydraulically. High differences in torque can be distributed between the wheels more efficiently and faster with very low power outputs Energy can even be recovered during some driving maneuvers. This is not the case with hydraulic systems.
What are the most important findings from the ACTIVeDRIVE test platform up to now and what are the next steps?
The first test drives with the ACTIVeDRIVE have shown that the active eDifferential has an extremely positive effect on the driving dynamics both on the front and the rear axle. Emotion and driving enjoyment are also important assessment criteria for electrified vehicles.
Customers already value the high level of responsiveness and regard the energy efficiency of the drive positively. We will now quantify the potential of this technology, carry out further optimization and incorporate the results of our advance developments in customer projects.