ElringKlinger’s truck strategy
Focus on the old – and new – worlds!
By Peter Renz, Corporate Communications, ElringKlinger AG
The automotive industry is in a state of transition. The passenger car sector, in particular, is experiencing significant change – with established ideas being challenged. Dr. Stefan Wolf, CEO of ElringKlinger, is adamant that the Commercial vehicle sector is equally dynamic. Here, too, there is a clear trend towards electromobility, and the sector still offers a great deal of potential, particularly in China.
For the first time in six years, ElringKlinger is once again exhibiting at the International Motor Show (IAA) Commercial Vehicles in Hanover, Germany, with ist very own booth. The company will be displaying a wide range of exciting new products for trucks and commercial vehicles at its 250-sqm booth – B12 in Hall 17. “The commercial vehicle sector is also facing enormous challenges. The sector is traditionally very cost-sensitive and, here too, we have to strike a balance between the old and new worlds. It’s not easy,” says Wolf. Having said that, things are going pretty well so far. Along with cylinder-head gaskets, specialty gaskets, and shielding technology, ElringKlinger’s main focus is on lightweight plastic components and modules. The company is the world’s leading supplier of oil pan modules, which it produces on 3,000-ton injection molding machines at facilities in Germany, China, and the NAFTA region. Based in Dettingen/Erms, Germany, ElringKlinger boasts outstanding materials expertise and production know-how in the area of high-precision metal processing (stamping, embossing, and forming), combined with a variety of coating processes. “In addition, it is our employees’ clever ideas that ensure we are also growing in the heavy duty sector,” adds the CEO. In the field of combustion engines, the automotive supplier has the clear aim of reducing emissions by optimizing components.
Chinese demand for fuel cell technology
There is also a growing trend towards electromobility in commercial vehicles – and ElringKlinger is ready with some concrete solutions. “Our PEM fuel cell stacks are used in industrial applications in the mobility sector such as light commercial and industrial vehicles. We also have firm inquiries for buses and trucks. Business is picking up,” says Wolf. The company is focusing mainly on China, currently the leading market for electromobility. The Chinese government offers large subsidies for fuel cells –around 70,000 euros per fuel cell bus –and this has provided a massive boost. So far, ElringKlinger has been concentrating on bipolar plates and fuel cell stacks, that is to say the heart of the system. China currently needs the full range of technology. “This means we have to provide all the systems to enable Asian manufacturers to run our stack. As a result, we are keeping a close eye on the issue of system technology. We are planning to present a show truck with a fuel cell range extender,” says Armin Diez, Vice President Battery Technology & E-Mobility. The idea is that the dynamics and acceleration are handled by a smaller battery, while a small fuel cell extends the vehicle’s range. This has a number of advantages. The concept not only represents a real alternative to pure battery operation, which has to be designed for long distances, but also to pure fuel cell vehicles, which would then have to contain fuel cells with about 100-150 kW.
Fuel cell or battery? Preferably both!
The concept is of particular interest to the logistics and transport sectors. “We have already held discussions with major freight forwarders and worked through a range of scenarios. Certain routes could be covered with purely battery-powered vehicles. But it’s more difficult over longer distances because the cargo weight has to be significantly reduced when there is a need for large, heavy batteries in order to have sufficient range. And you shouldn’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to charge this kind of battery,” adds Diez. Hydrogen has a key advantage over batteries in this respect as it is similar to refueling with gasoline or diesel.
The alternative drive systems are enhanced by a range of lightweight solutions to reduce the vehicle weight and extend its range still further.
ElringKlinger at IAA Commercial Vehicles
Hall 17, Booth B12
OEM&Supplier, Edition 2/2018