Next stop Aachen Colloquium!

Editorial –Winter/Spring 2019, Powertrain International

It is well known among automotive professionals, the world’s most significant technical program every October in Aachen, Germany, a beautiful university town at the boarder of Belgium and the Netherlands, and proudly hosted in the baroque town hall, Aachener Rathaus, where Colloquium reception is held.

Started over 26 years ago by two professors – Juergen Helling and Franz Pischinger from RWTH Aachen University, Aachen Colloquium has become the platform for new technology dissemination, from propulsion to autonomous driving system. At the kick-off of 26th program, Nissan’s Hirai-san sees the continuous evolution of ICE Thermal Efficiency to 50% with compression ratio improvement and cooling loss reduction. He also suggested internal combustion engine (ICE) in tandem with electrification power assist and low speed motor drive. In his concluding remarks, Hirai-san mentioned that there is a great potential to improve ICE based powertrain efficiency without complexities.

Maintaining the tradition of the Colloquium, three new gasoline and three new diesel engines were introduced. Maeyama, et. al., introduced 1.0 L three cylinder turbo-charged GDI engine, improving fuel economy by 26%. All drivetrain components, crankcase, cylinder head, and valve train to cooling system have significant improvements. In the diesel side, among others, BMW’s Steinparzer, et. al. discussed the 3-, 4- cylinder modular design engines. In addition to the conventional propulsion, HEV, EV, Battery propulsion technology had made a significant in-roads in the technical sessions of the Aachen Colloquium.

Over the years, Aachen Colloquium has expanded its scope to other areas, and highlights of 26th program was vehicle concepts – architecture and urban mobility, lightweight design, and autonomous driving system, and tire technology – road vehicle performance, and tire requirements for automated driving. Of course, classic sessions on engine controls, components, fuels, and emissions aftertreatment still remained in the program.

Sessions on AI for automated driving functions, object detection, and solid-state LIDAR technology were some of trending topics addressed by both OEMs and suppliers. In the show floor ADS technology were in full displays from level 3 to level 4.

An interesting perspective was explained by Busse and Eckstein on holistic approach of technology strategies for the lightweight design. They clearly reiterated the drivers for lightweighting and suggested a life cycle approach. They addressed materials, manufacturing, chassis, and drivetrain contributions to vehicle mass, and though the vehicle body lightweighting has significantly improved with efficient use of multi-materials and related manufacturing technologies, but, chassis and powertrain though account for over 40% of vehicle mass, reduction in mass in these areas have not progressed that much. In their holistic method, they analyzed potential innovations for fuel reduction and enhanced safety and comfort.

Strenkert, et. al., from Daimler AG introduced a new generation of 4- cylinder diesel plug-in hybrid, a strategic decision to electrify more than 50 variants of vehicles of the entire portfolio by 2022. It is a very aggressive move on part of the Mercedes-Benz. The highlight of technology fusion are combination of 2.0 L, 4-Cylinder diesel OM, with 9-speed transmissions and 90 kW of electric power.

Automotive industry is going through an unprecedented transformation, and what will future bring? Read this issue to see current trends, and plan to stop by at the Aachen Colloquium, already planned for October 8-10, 2018, https://www.aachener-kolloquium.de/en/

Dr. M. Nasim Uddin