The evolution of the road transportation sector is today facing multiple challenges to ensure affordable solutions answering the need in reducing simultaneously CO2 and, more generally, GHG (Green House Gases) emissions, together with noxious compounds (including nanoparticles emissions) under Real Driving conditions: in this context, the electrification of the powertrain will be a fundamental step, with a more important role, and beneficial effect, especially in high traffic density conditions in large urban agglomerations, where noxious pollutant emissions are most sensitive.

The THOMSON project addresses very precise and consistent objectives to support a quick transition towards high efficient, cleaner and affordable electrified powertrains focusing, in particular, on the 48V architectures, intended as key element to increase fuel economy and reduce environmental impact and to support a quick penetration on the market.

Approaches developed in the THOMSON project will demonstrate how the right combination of advanced engine downsizing/turbocharging technologies, coupled with a 48V motor-generator system, can provide the most cost effective solution for a rapid electrification through conventional vehicles.

It is a matter of fact that 48V architectures will take the lead in the following years to close the gap between enhanced systems based on 12V voltage and high voltage systems devoted to Plug In and Range Extender architectures. Considering the lower cost of these systems, 48V architectures are particularly of interest to cover B-C market segment, that are the market targets of the THOMSON proposal, rather than the premium sector that will most probably move towards High Voltage solutions with Plug-In capabilities.

Within the respect of the cost target set in the call, the ambition of the THOMSON project is to demonstrate, through the two demonstration vehicles, the capability of 48V system in achieving the environmental targets but also to provide to the end user additional contents in terms of vehicle dynamic, driveability, enjoyability and NVH, looking also for limited drive modalities according, of course, to the system limited power (between 10 and 15 kW) and the limited energy storage.

The improvement of the mild hybrid systems is also based on a certain number of engine technologies that are enabled by the 48 Volt architecture: eBoosting, Electrically Heated Catalyst and electrically driven auxiliaries (such as cooling and oil pump) can be integrated in the powertrain system to match on one side an extension of performance and functionalities with lower fuel consumption and, on the other side, they can assist the operability of the systems even under ambient conditions like cold starts and/or altitude, taking care of the Real Driving conditions.

THOMSON project aims to integrate all these combinations into two first-in-kind demonstrator vehicles, that will anyway focus, in parallel to the technologies development, the simplification of the overall system, to optimize systems integration costs and looking to competitive solutions for a quick time-to-market, potentially 2-3 years after the project end.

Structure of the project

To fulfill the objectives of the project, activities have been organized in two “horizontal” WorkPackages devoted to the development of simulation models and technologies enabled by the 48V architecture, that are transversal to the two electrified powertrain development lines. These two WorkPackages (WP1 and WP2) will drive the design phase of the engine and powertrain, considering the integration of novel technologies such as e-boosting, e-heated catalyst and, more generally, by e-auxiliaries and modules to support thermal and energy management optimization.

At the same time, they will also support the following calibration process, thanks to the development of advanced simulation models able to predict and to analyse the interaction of the different systems composing the two vehicle systems under different operating conditions.

This will sustain also the technological transfer into the two “vertical” WorkPackages (WP3 and WP4), where the specific powertrain solutions will be developed, calibrated, tested and transferred on the corresponding demonstration vehicles. Vehicles will pass through a full calibration process to enable an accurate execution of the performance and emissions assessment under Real Driving conditions, starting from roller chassis dynamometer measurement to on-road measurements using PEMS devices.

The final horizontal WorkPackage, WP5, will be devoted to the final assessment of the demonstrator vehicles, based on an independent testing, as well as to the final analysis of the costs of the proposed solutions with regard to different potential market penetration perspectives.