The Schaeffler Mobility Study’shows that while the forms of transportation around the world continue to increase, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability are becoming dominant development goals everywhere, says Roger Evans
In a comprehensive two-year study on mobility, precision bearing and automotive component supplier Schaeffler investigated customer demand and behavioural patterns to the year 2025, with a view to identifying future mobility needs in different regions of the world.
The study involved an in-depth analysis of 12 regions of the world that ranged from the sparsely populated German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (180 people per square mile) to Manhattan (70,239 people per square mile).
The study concluded that, despite continuing globalisation, there is not one overall solution to the subject of mobility. The megatrends of globalisation, urbanisation, digitalisation, scarcity of resources, renewable energies and the growing requirements for affordable mobility are leading to rapidly changing, more dynamic market requirements and business models.
As colourful and varied the mobility trends in each region of the world were found to be, the analysis does reveal some general trends. Mobility patterns can be categorised according to three criteria: 1) the level of urbanisation, 2) the economic development status of a region and 3) consumers’ buying power.
On the basis of this study, Schaeffler has developed its growth strategy for the next decade to fulfill these changing market and customer requirements and to utilise the enormous growth potential. Environmentally-friendly drives, urban and inter-urban mobility, as well as the energy chain are key areas of focus, which Schaeffler is actively shaping by carrying out its own research and development in cooperation with its customers and business partners. As a global automotive and industrial supplier, Schaeffler offers innovative solutions for the ‘mobility for tomorrow’.
As a development partner with a comprehensive understanding of drive train systems, both for vehicles with internal combustion engines and for hybrid and electric mobility solutions, Schaeffler’s strength lies in its breadth of knowledge, which encompasses not only the automotive sphere, but also every other urban and inter-urban mode of mobility, including two-wheeled transport, rail and aviation. In the field of energy, Schaeffler is a development partner for both conventional and regenerative energy production, as well as the most efficient possible use of applied energy through low friction bearings and other precision-manufactured components and systems.
Schaeffler's mobility study developed four specific areas of future mobility that represent the challenges Schaeffler can help to overcome:
An assessment of the entire energy chain
Future mobility solutions will take the CO2 balance in the whole energy chain into consideration. Particular attention is to be given to the production and storage of electricity for electric cars, as well as to hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles. The overall static infrastructure must also be considered. Dwindling resources and the major challenges of Climate Change mean that the global requirement for clean energy is on the increase. A global change in approach is needed, including an optimisation of all stages in the energy chain. In this context, renewable energy sources begin to play a central role. Water, wind, and solar power also constitute future-oriented growth fields for Schaeffler. Water-lubricated bearings from Schaeffler, for example, are helping to ensure a sustainable power supply.
New mobility ideas for cities
In the future, there will be a demand for an intermodal traffic system in a limited amount of space with a seamless interchange between different modes of transport. This will require new technical solutions. Schaeffler is actively helping to develop this trend, for example, through its eWheelDrive electric wheel hub drive. The compact packaging of the drive modules in the wheel rim creates more space in the interior of the vehicle and increases the vehicle’s manoeuvrability. Highly integrated wheel hub drives are a key component in the new vehicle designs required in mega cities. With its innovative sensor bottom bracket technology, Schaeffler is also making its contribution to establishing e-bikes as a key method of transport for the future. Schaeffler also supplies axlebox bearings for the driverless cars used in the Nuremberg subway.
Resource-efficient, inter-urban mobility
A growing proportion of the world’s population needs to be able to move efficiently between urban economic centres. Efficient use of resources is essential for all modes of transport, whether aircraft, high-speed trains or passenger cars. Schaeffler is playing a pioneering role in inter-urban mobility, for example, by developing rolling bearing solutions for the rail industry. Schaeffler’s Aerospace division is now the world’s leading manufacturer and development partner for special rolling bearings in the aviation industry. For example, bearings and other precision manufactured components for the Airbus A380 engines are supplied by Schaeffler. This aircraft uses only 3.3 litres of kerosene per person and per 100 kilometres.
Eco-friendly drive systems
The energy efficiency and therefore the environmental compatibility of mobility will, to a large extent, be determined by vehicle drive systems. This means the development of energy efficient drive systems will be the number one priority for the future. Schaeffler covers the entire spectrum, from the optimisation of conventional internal combustion engines and hybrid solutions, through to products for all-electric vehicles, under the heading ‘Efficient Future Mobility’.
As a global high tech company, Schaeffler also develops market-specific concepts for fulfilling regional environmental standards and enables its customers in all regions to comply with future vehicle emissions standards. For this purpose, market-specific demonstrator vehicles have been developed for each region of the world. For example, the concept vehicles Efficient Future Mobility India with electronic clutch management, and the Efficient Future Mobility North America, both demonstrate how an additional reduction in fuel consumption of up to 15 per cent can be achieved using Schaeffler innovations in vehicle drive trains.
Regardless of whether it is on land, water or in the air, energy efficiency is rapidly becoming a critical factor in the success of drives for all modes of transport. A priority for all Schaeffler engineers is to design all components and systems so as to minimise losses, for example, by using low friction rolling bearings.
Roger Evans is Managing Director at Schaeffler UK.