Gernot Goppelt, CTI Correspondent
To better reflect the road to climate-neutral mobility, our CTI Symposia Novi and Berlin are expanding their range of topics for 2023. In addition to electric drives and components, the presentations and discussions will also cover topics such as sustainable mobility, renewable energies and upstream CO2 reduction. One question is becoming more and more important: Where do the system borders of tomorrow’s powertrains lie?
This year, the CTI Symposium USA (24 – 25 May) is being held for the seventeenth time, and the CTI Symposium Berlin (December) for the twenty-second. The powertrain industry has changed much faster in recent years than during the decades that preceded them. In response, what began as a transmission conference now focuses on electrified powertrains – and on requirements that extend beyond them.
Electrification is evolving rapidly
In the early years, CTI symposia were dominated by manual and automatic transmissions, with CVTs and dual-clutch transmissions joining the agenda soon after. For years, the pros and cons of these systems were the main topic of discussion. But from around 2010 on, it became clear that hybridization and electrification would have a growing role to play. Accordingly, the symposia name was updated to “Automotive Transmissions, Hybrid & Electric Drives”.
As hybridization spread, the variety of topics grew almost exponentially. Do we need 48 V mild, full or plug-in hybrids? How do we integrate electrification in transmissions? In 2015, a new type of transmission was defined when Prof. Ferit Kücükay, chair of the CTI Symposium Berlin from the very start, and Robert Fischer of AVL introduced the DHT or Dedicated Hybrid Transmission. This marked a step towards dominant electric motors in hybrid drives, with transmissions that were significantly less complex mechanically.
Around the same time, it also became apparent that batteryelectric drives were rapidly gaining momentum. A few years later, almost all manufacturers had added one or more BEVs to their portfolio. As OEMs and suppliers invested heavily in electrification technology, new work profiles emerged. Today, mechanical engineers need to extend their expertise into fields such as electrical engineering, IT & software, and ‘system thinking.
CTI symposia: driving the path to carbon-neutral mobility
As a glance at the plenary program shows, the upcoming symposium in Novi (24 – 25 May 2023) reflects these developments in its lectures and discussions. Topics will include electric drive units, e-motors, batteries, thermal management, NVH, inverters and other power electronics, plus more besides. These have largely replaced ‘classic’ transmission topics, except in electrified applications. Another keytopic for the development community, particularly in North America, is truck electrification. This poses a particular challenge for all-electric drives.
At Novi and Berlin, the in-depth discussion will also cover topics that sit above component level. Looking beyond powertrain boundaries, several important questions need to be asked: How can we quickly build up and expand energy and charging infrastructures? What is the impact of international dependencies on raw materials? What emission regulations do we need to address, including for BEV? Will we see CO 2 assessments based on well-to-wheel or even lifecycle figures? And last but not least, new development methods like ‘Digital Twin’ will be on the agenda too.
That said, the symposia are still open for all available powertrain technology options. The discussion will include the use of hydrogen or e-fuels, and we know that specific global regions may still require solutions such as hybrid drives. In any region, the energy infrastructure will be the defining factor for which powertrain solutions make sense. While the future is very likely to be electric, the path that leads there calls for a blend of two factors: constructive competition, and cooperation. Today and tomorrow, CTI symposia are a key platform on which to co-create a sustainable future for mobility.