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IAA 2019

CAN is like an iceberg

At IAA 2019, CAN was nearly invisible – like an iceberg. Much of CAN is below the surface; just few information on CAN products was given – like the tip of an iceberg.

The German Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel, visited the three market-leading German automotive suppliers to demonstrate the closing of ranks – malicious gossip has it that she tells what they want to hear (Source: Bosch, Continental, Kugler/Bundesregierung)

Before the IAA tradeshow, there was some discussion on this event. Several automakers questioned in general this exhibition and started the discussion on a new concept with different locations. Nevertheless, the organizer, VDA (German automotive industry association), is satisfied: “With the best possible weather, the first public day proves that the IAA is a real crowd-puller. Around 60 000 visitors came to the most important international mobility platform to experience the world premieres and the fascination of the car through test drives, the off-road circuit, the E-Move track and other experience formats. Since the IAA opened, 175 000 visitors have passed through its gates. On Saturday morning, the test drives in around 70 models were soon booked out for the whole day, and visitors also had a long wait for the off-road circuit,” said VDA president Bernhard Mattes.

Climate protection and individual sustainable mobility are topics that have triggered broad debate throughout society. “We are taking part in this dialog in many different ways. And today’s demonstration and bicycle rally organized by the alliance of environmental associations and NGOs are part of our lively culture of debate,” Mattes stressed. More than 1000 people blocked the entrance. About 15 000 to 25 000 protestors, many on bicycles, criticized the mobility strategies of the automotive industry and the German government. They requested a more environmental-friendly mobility. For them electricity does not come just from the plugs. They wonder, if the electricity is produced sustainably. Surprisingly, Matthes announced to quit as VDA president by end of this year without providing a reason.

Suppliers see dark clouds, but are optimistic

Dr. Elmar Degenhart, CEO of Continental, said that the next two years might be economically challenging. Nevertheless, he is optimistic that the automotive industry can achieve CO2-neutrality across the entire supply chain by 2050. Specifically, the company has set the goal for itself to be CO2-neutral in all of its production processes by 2040. As a first step, Continental aims to procure its electricity exclusively from renewable sources at all of its worldwide production sites by the end of 2020.

Bosch’ CEO, Dr. Volkmar Denner, stated at IAA: “The transformation of mobility entails challenges, but also opportunities. We want to grasp them.” Since the beginning of 2018, Bosch has won e-mobility orders worth roughly 13 billion euros, including production projects for electrical powertrains for passenger cars and light trucks. The company’s mobility operations currently employ some 14 000 software engineers, and annual expenditure on software expertise comes to 3 billion euros. Additionally, the company invests in future communication technologies including the next generation of CAN, which is currently under development within the CAN in Automation nonprofit association.

In general, the automotive suppliers facing a paradigm change: E-vehicles need less mechanical parts, but more electric components. Therefore, the development of e-vehicle devices requires more electronic and software engineers than if designing combustion engines. There is also a change in producing electrical devices compared with mechanical components. The automotive industry is on the move.

Volkswagen’s CEO, Herbert Diess, showed the German Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel the ID.3 electric car and explained details such as battery size and top speed (Source: Volkswagen)

German Chancellor at IAA

The IAA is a must for the German Chancellor. The automotive industry is a key industry of the German economy. Dr. Angela Merkel opened the public days of the exhibition. On her visit on the VW stand, the focus was on the ID.3 electric car. Three Ethernet-linked domain controllers and multiple sub-layered CAN FD networks control the vehicle. But this was not discussed in detail with the chancellor.

Dr. Angela Merkel visited also the market-leading German Tier1s: Bosch, Continental, and ZF. They showed their automatic driving people movers and robot taxi prototypes. This is the entry level for automated driving: Bosch exhibited its IoT shuttle, Continental demonstrated its Cube rob-taxi, and ZF presented its CAN-connectable two-speed electric drive. Of course, they did not discuss with her the in-vehicle network details, although the German chancellor has a scientific background and a PhD in physics. In the future, mobility service providers will offer shuttles for customized on-demand mobility. By 2025, it is expected that more than 2,5 million shuttles will be driving on the world’s roads.

Two-speed electric drive

ZF exhibited in Frankfurt its CAN-connectable two-speed electric drive. This was the tip of CAN iceberg. “For electric vehicles in everyday use, it is important to obtain as much range as possible from each battery charge”, stated Bert Hellwig leading ZF’s E-Mobility division. “Every percent of improvement in energy conversion efficiency translates into two percent more range.” To increase the performance rating of the new electric axle drive system, ZF leveraged its expertise in systems to develop a new electric motor with a maximum power rating of 140 kW paired with a two-stage shift element. “Bringing together our know-how in relation to electric motors, gearboxes, and power electronics ensures that we achieve the best possible range from each battery charge”, explained Hellwig.

The two-speed electric drive shifts at 70 km/h and shows the energy consumption on the dashboard (Source: ZF)

Vehicles with the two-speed drive consume less energy, which in turn extends range by up to five percent when compared to a one- speed unit. Shifts take place at 70 km/h. By connecting to the vehicle’s CAN communication it is also possible to devise other shift strategies, possibly linked to digital map material and GPS. For example, the vehicle could identify from the GPS route programming how far it is to the next charging station, enabling it to respond predictively by switching into Eco-mode. More effective shifts would also be possible in accounting for topography on the interstate, and on inter-city journeys. The software in the drive can also be updated due to the network link to Cloud services via over-the-air updates.

Of course, the IAA tradeshow is not focused on CAN-based devices and sub-systems. Most of the exhibiting Tier1 suppliers present their views on the future of mobility, because they develop increasingly system solutions instead of parts and devices. Exceptions prove this rule: Swico (Taiwan) introduced electronic water pumps with CAN connectivity and NXP presented jointly with its partner C2A secure CAN transceivers.

The Performance Line CX bicycle uses an embedded CAN network to communicate with shift-gear and other devices (Source: Bosch)

E-mountain bike with CAN

At IAA, Bosch did not discuss in detail the usage of CAN-based control units with one exception: The Performance Line CX e-mountain bike is equipped with an embedded CAN network. With the model year 2020, Bosch Ebike Systems is launching a drive system, which addresses even the most demanding riders. The motor accelerates powerfully, reacts to the rider’s pedal pressure without deceleration, and provides dynamic handling from the first pedal stroke. Whether this product is that what the IAA protestors regard as an environmental-friendly vehicle is another question. The new drive requires 50 % less space due to the magnesium housing. The enclosure also reduces the weight by 25 %.

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