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Continental develops 48V e-bike drive unit

Automotive supplier Continental will now offer 48V drive units for e-bikes, featuring a fully integrated transmission

Continental has been something of a standout in developing enabling technologies for EVs. Earlier this summer it unveiled a modified electric powertrain which would allow both DC and AC charging, at power ratings of up to 350kW.

Its latest innovation is proof that even automotive giants cannot afford to be complacent about any field of electric transportation. Using its expertise in 48V drive technology, the company is now marketing two 48V drive units for electric bikes.

These, it says, will be the world’s first 48V-powered e-bike motors to use a fully integrated stepless automatic transmission contained in an all-in-one drive unit. The first, dubbed the 48V Revolution, features a 2-in-1 drive and continuously variable planetary (CVP) gearing with a ratio range of 380%.

It is accompanied by the 48V Prime, which can be used with conventionally geared e-bikes.

“The new 48V eBike technology combined with an integrated motor and fully automatic stepless transmission is a logical and necessary step in the e-bike’s evolution,” said Jörg Malcherek, responsible for Bicycle Systems at Continental. “Further integration and transfer of Continental’s automotive know-how into future concepts for upcoming e-bike designs is a must to deliver the rider the demanded safety and comfort.”




Here comes the Revolution

Mounted in a single unit at the bottom bracket axle position, 48V Revolution offers a central, low centre of gravity, for better handling. The lack of the rotating mass found in some hub-based systems is another bonus.

Because everything drive and gearing are contained in a single unit, Continental says manufacturers also have greater freedom to create a cleaner, smoother-looking product.

Clearly the target market for these units is manufacturers and OEMs, however it’s not too big a jump to imagine enthusiastic cyclists fitting their own. A drive unit bracket (frame adapter) can be used with the 48V Prime and the 48V Revolution, allowing use with a variety of frame designs and with the same bottom bracket axle position.

Both new systems are compatible with Continental Belt Drive system and traditional chains, and both units will be available from 2018. Prices were not specified in it announcement.

Continental has already secured its first customer, in the form of German firm Cycle Union, which will be the first to launch bikes fitted with the units – the ‘e-bike manufaktur’ range. Further OEM partners such as TechniBike will also present e-bike models based on the 48V eBike system, it added.


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