SEW Eurodrive and Brose announced their Joint Venture for e-mobility in February this year. At the IAA (International Automotive Exhibition) 2011 in Frankfurt SEW-Brose recently showed their first pedelec system. The JV is a member of the EnergyBus association, which introduced a standard for Light-Electric-Vehicles (LEVs) earlier this year.
Brose-SEW will further develop drivetrains and inductive charging technology for two-wheelers. The cooperation indicates that soon a new drive unit and inductive charging device will be using the EnergyBus protocol.
The Joint Venture called Brose-SEW Elektromobilitäts GmbH & Co. KG has been founded on 24. 02. 2011. Soon after it joined the EnergyBus association. EnergyBus is a new communication and connector standard for Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) like pedelecs and e-bikes. The pre-series of a charging connector and the first communication protocol has been introduced in March 2011.
Brose-SEW will develop drivetrain and inductive charging systems for engines ranging from 0,25 - 150 kW for cars and two-wheelers. On the IAA, Brose-SEW showed its pedelec system on a Cube bicycle for the first time, while SEW presented its inductive charging pad for e-cars.
The drivetrain of SEW-Brose is part of the frame instead of being assembled to it. This helps to save weight and allows a harmonic integration in the pedelec design. It thus supports the usual stability and geometry of a bike, including ground clearance.
SEW´s inductive charging technology for two-wheelers was exhibited at the EnergyBus booth at Bike Expo in 2010. The charging device looks like a mat and can be integrated in the ground. It is already in use and charges for example a fleet of electric vehicles of Lufthansa in Frankfurt while parking.
Mr. Jürgen Otto, CEO of Brose Group, gave an outlook at the IAA press conference and believes that "in the future, (...) vehicles no longer need large, high-performance batteries but instead only small, proven battery systems which get recharged at short intervals virtually by "driving past"."
Brose-SEW steers their worldwide business in three directions, one of them being "drivetrains for e-bikes and pedelecs", Mr. Otto further announced in Frankfurt.
Brose-SEW then voiced their intention to make their system work with any other EnergyBus device, i.e. batteries and human-machine-interfaces. They also offered to share their inductive charging know-how with other EnergyBus members and develop it into another kind of EnergyBus connector.
The involvement of yet another automotive supplier in the pedelec and e-bike segment has been rumored before. The EnergyBus association welcomes Brose-SEW, gathering another international player of the automotive industry under its roof, after Bosch joined the association in 2010.
EnergyBus currently consists of more than 50 members, coming from all sectors of the mobility industry. Nine drivetrain manufacturers and seven vehicle producers take part in the standardization effort, being complemented by battery specialists like Varta and Sanyo as well as infrastructure operators like Deutsche Bahn or Movelo.
>> Download Overview of Members (PDF)
Success comes with experience
The engagement of SEW and Brose or Bosch in e-mobility on two-wheels might appear threatening to smaller manufacturers at first, as the former companies produce annual volumes of up to 150 mio electric drives (Brose).
When Bosch entered the market with its pedelec system in September 2010, 13 bicycle manufacturers applied it. Only one year later, there are 31 brands using the Bosch system, making it a full success and a serious competitor to the afore dominating panasonic hub motor on the European market.
The companies use their previous developments while remodeling them to the needs of smaller vehicles. The Bosch motor is based upon their motor for servo control. Brose builds on 100 years of mechatronic background, now combining its knowledge of motors for electric windows etc. with the more powerful electric engines and charging devices SEW Eurodrive has developed for industrial users.
The industry also has a proven record of standardization. Bosch, often being a driving force behind standards, knows its advantages and shares its experience. Combining these competitors in the EnergyBus organization is an important step towards a sustainable market for e-mobility.
The EnergyBus standard for the connection and communication of all electric components on a pedelec or e-bike might increase competition on one hand, but simplifies innovation and development at the other through compatibility.
>> More on EnergyBus
Text: Nora Manthey
Pictures: Brose-SEW, Hannes Neupert
12 October 2011