Knorr-Bremse unit focuses on future of commercial electric vehicles

By Chad Elmore18 February 2021

Knorr-Bremse to bundle mobility expertise into technology incubator focused on commercial electric vehicles.

Knorr-Bremse, a global supplier of brake systems and other rail and commercial vehicle systems, has bundled its expertise in the field of e-mobility within the eCubator, its own new development unit. The company’s plans envision as many as 60 in-house and external specialists working on future-oriented solutions at Knorr-Bremse’s Munich, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary, locations.

The electrification of commercial vehicles require changes in vehicle architecture. As a result, the advent of electric mobility is set to fundamentally transform commercial vehicle system requirements, said the company. From traction, braking and steering, all the way to suspension, damping and supplying the systems with energy, this opens up multiple opportunities for efficient and scalable technologies. Knorr-Bremse said this presents a unique opportunity for it to shape future systems for all-electric commercial vehicles. 

Brakes for the future

To prepare for the next generation of electric vehicles, the eCubator – a think tank for future system integration – is already starting work, said the company. It bundles the company’s technical experience and interdisciplinary expertise, and provides a space in which to think outside the box.

“For us, the electrification of commercial vehicles is one of the major trends of the commercial vehicle industry in which we intend to participate,” said Dr. Peter Laier, member of the Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse AG responsible for the Commercial Vehicle Systems division. “In order to drive forward solutions in this area, Knorr-Bremse has set up its own development unit, the eCubator, separate from our conventional development operations. The aim of the eCubator is to adapt our existing product portfolio to the mobility requirements of electric drive systems and, at the same time, to identify and generate growth opportunities for Knorr-Bremse in the wider field of electric mobility. The underlying goal is to support our customers with the electrification of their commercial vehicles.”

The new development unit is expected to provide a space where, through unconventional approaches, innovative, intelligent solutions for electric commercial vehicles can be identified and then developed in close collaboration with customers, technology partners and start-ups, said the company. Knorr-Bremse said it is currently engaged in talks with potential business partners. 

The company said it has already developed many products for first-generation electric commercial vehicles and brought some of those products to market.

The portfolio includes screw-type compressors, primarily for electric buses and trucks.

It said it is also strongly positioned in the field of brake control, having channeled its experience with brake blending for commercial vehicles. The system involves the interplay of the service brake, the retarder and an additional exhaust brake. The braking effect of the electric motor is combined with the service brake to generate optimal deceleration and maximum energy recovery. This leads to an improvement in vehicle efficiency while at the same time ensuring maximum stability – even in adverse conditions, said the company.

With a view to second-generation electric vehicles, which will enter the market from approximately 2025 onward, Knorr-Bremse said it is working on solutions including future energy management systems, electromechanical actuators and enhanced functionalities related to vehicle stability and propulsion.

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