Further powertrain efficiency improvements enabled by acquisition

12th March 2019
Lanna Cooper

MAHLE’s acquisition of the German transmission specialist ZG-Zahnräder und Getriebe adds significant extra transmission expertise to MAHLE Powertrain. ZG will be part of the MAHLE Powertrain family and the acquisition complements the company’s dual strategy for optimising the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and focusing on new developments in alternative drive technologies.

“As drivetrains are increasingly integrated in pursuit of reduced emissions, efficiency gains come from increasingly focussed refinements” said Simon Reader, MAHLE Powertrain Engineering Director.

“Gears can be overlooked, whether in the ICE, transmission or an electric driveline. Today’s high torque hybrid powertrains demand exceptional gear refinement and durability, but there is a constant need to reduce component size and weight.”

“This is where the ZG acquisition fits in,” continued Reader. “The ZG team has proven expertise in optimised gear design and transmission layouts. These can facilitate marked improvements in NVH, friction performance, packaging and weight reduction, leading to improved efficiency, especially for electric drives. Every aspect of our work from full powertrains to electric drivelines can be improved by good gear and transmission design, which is why ZG’s acquisition is an important development for us.”

The deal is the latest investment in future powertrain development facilities and the expertise of MAHLE Powertrain, the propulsion systems development specialist, which has also expanded its £8.3m Real Driving Emissions Centre to help the automotive industry meet stringent future efficiency targets.

ZG-Zahnräder und Getriebe was founded as a spin-off from the Technical University of Munich in 2008 and today works closely with several major vehicle manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers.

From programme inception to prototype testing, the company has established a core competence in the development, optimisation and production of advanced gears with particular expertise in electric and hybrid drive concepts.

For example, it has developed and patented PlanGear, an application that can computer-generate and evaluate all relevant transmission structure options, including complex hybrid drives. This has the effect of accelerating gear development, reducing costs and enhancing performance, which could bring additional advantages as part of an integrated-drive system development programme.

“This acquisition is another important step in the expansion of MAHLE Powertrain’s capabilities and further reinforces our position as an engineering services provider across all powertrain technologies,” said Dr. Martin Berger, MAHLE Powertrain Engineering Services Director.

In addition, MAHLE Powertrain is further enhancing the capability of its new Real Driving Emissions (RDE) Centre. The facility houses the UK’s only hypobaric testing equipment, which enables precise vehicle powertrain altitude testing, as part of a complete development solution for the automotive industry.

It represents a crucial opportunity to ensure that all new vehicles comply with RDE test procedures and the new WLTP regulations ahead of final implementation in September 2019. The expansion of the Centre’s electric motor and battery cell performance test facilities will further enhance MAHLE Powertrain’s integrative vehicle development competence.

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