Automotive technology company Continental and Chinese automotive supplier and battery manufacturer Sichuan Chengfei Integration Technology (CITC) will establish a joint venture to develop and produce 48V battery systems for the automotive industry.

Continental will hold a 60% stake in the JV, which will operate globally and support customers in Europe and North America, as well as China and other Asian markets, from its headquarters in Changzhou, China. Operations are to begin in mid-2018.

The aim is to establish the JV as one of the global market’s leading 48V battery-system manufacturers.

CITC’s China Aviation Lithium Battery Co. (CALB) subsidiary has extensive expertise in developing and producing lithium-ion battery cells, Continental says in a news release. The JV will allow Continental to offer its 48V mild-hybrid system from a single source.

The JV will develop and produce a battery platform for all conventional 48V topologies (P0, P2, Px) up to 25 kW. CALB will provide the battery cells, while Continental will contribute the battery-management system including the basic software. The JV will integrate the components in the battery systems, carry out customer-specific development work and integrate the systems in vehicles.

The JV also will assist automakers purchasing only individual components of the 48V system, such as the battery cells or the battery-management system.

Continental claims its mild-hybrid technology reduces average fuel consumption and emissions in real driving situations up to 21% in gasoline engines and up to 9% in diesels, as well as cutting nitrogen-oxide emissions. The supplier anticipates that as early as 2025, about 14% of all new vehicles worldwide will feature this mild-hybrid system.

“Entering the 48V battery-systems business is a strategically important step for Continental and one that will further strengthen our position as a system provider on the fast-growing mild-hybrid market,” Continental CEO Elmar Degenhart says. “In CITC, we have found a partner whose subsidiary CALB provides the ideal conditions for this joint venture. CITC allows us access to the Chinese market, which is significant. It also has the potential to impose itself on the international competition and to become a global provider in the production of battery cells.”

Continental says its 48V system offers functions previously available only in more-costly high-voltage hybrid systems. These include coasting – switching off the combustion engine while the vehicle is in motion – a very fast engine start and effective recuperation. The Continental system first entered production in 2017 in Renault and Audi models. Further market launches for diesel and gasoline engines are planned in China, Europe and North America.

jirwin@wardsauto.com