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Continental’s AllCharge system promises 150km in 5 minutes

Concept art for AllCharge - the bidirectional system opens up new applications for the vehicle battery.

The AllCharge system could be a USB-style solution to charging, enabling all EVs to use all infrastructure

Although perhaps best known for its tyres, Continental is keen to show off its expertise in the field of electric mobility. This week saw a series of announcements for the sector.

Most notably, the company presented its answer to problems posed by non-standardised charging infrastructure Dubbed the ‘AllCharge’ system, Continental intends to use the standard components of a conventional electric powertrain – electric motor and inverter – as a charging mechanism.

According to a statement:

“The basic idea is simple. Rather than cramming the car with extra technology to match all the different types of charging station, Continental turns the electric powertrain itself into a ‘charger’… Since constant AC/DC switching at different voltages is already an inherent feature of the electric powertrain, these components already possess all the necessary capabilities to function as a charging system. By exploiting these capabilities, Continental is now able to provide interoperability with different charging technologies using an onboard, vehicle-based solution.”

Continental appears to be positioning the innovation to appeal to both charging infrastructure operators and consumers. Its goal is to avoid the “recurring dilemma” of whether to install single-phase/three-phase AC charging stations – which are cheaper, but take longer to charge – or higher-speed DC charging stations – which are faster but more expensive, and with fewer cars capable of using them.

The system, it says, is essentially “a modified electric powertrain in which the electric motor and inverter have been specially adapted to handle the additional task of charging.” The only extra component involved in this system is a DC/DC converter, which ensures an optimally regulated power flow to the battery at all times.

Users can therefore charge any vehicle at any charging station, at an output rate of up to 800 V and up to 350 kW.

Drivers also have 230 volts of AC power available for onboard use if needed. The system’s V2D (vehicle-to-device) technology also allows bi-directional flow, meaning the vehicle battery can be used to power mobile electrical devices ranging from a laptop to a refrigerator or an electric drill.

Five minutes of 350kW DC charging could offer up to 150 km of range, it says – although no EV exists (yet) that could handle it. Certainly, battery management has not reached this level of development, but if the infrastructure such as this can be put in place, we see no reason why this could not one day become a standard, and go some way towards eliminating range anxiety.

Continental intends to demonstrate the technology at the Continental Tech Show and IAA 2017.

 

Li and Jourdan in Berlin. Foto: Axel Schmidt
Li and Jourdan in Berlin. Foto: Axel Schmidt

 

One for all

Continental also signed a strategic cooperation agreement with NIO this week. Board member and president of the chassis & safety division, Frank Jourdan and NIO founder and chairman William Li, signed off the partnership during a May 31 ceremony in Berlin.

Under the deal, the two companies intend to collaborate EV technology development and “other relevant fields,” including intelligent transportation systems and automated driving. In particular it will see Continental and NIO collaborate on the latter’s new car platforms, the first stage of which will see the former supply technology, including air suspension systems and tires, to NIO’s ES8 electric SUV.

“Cars of the future will feature electric drives, which will be fully connected and automated. In 2025, we expect a market share for fully electric drive systems of around 10%. Continental is well positioned to successfully meet these future demands on automotive drive systems. Already today, China is one of the leading markets for electric vehicles. Our collaboration with NIO will contribute to further advance the development of electric vehicles and the Chinese electric vehicle market”, said Continental chairman of the board Dr. Elmar Degenhart.

 

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