In 2011 Germany’s Continental AG entered into the automotive turbocharger market, rapidly establishing itself with a range of award-winning products. Now the company is expanding its geographic footprint in this segment with the opening of its first non-European turbocharger plant its site in Jiading, a suburb of Shanghai, China.
In November this new facility started producing the RAAX™ turbocharger, developed by Continental for the Volkswagen Group’s EA888 Gen.3B engine platform and in production in Europe since 2016 in the Audi A3.
In the Chinese market, this 2.0 litre turbocharged gasoline engine will debut in the VW Teramont SUV, followed by the VW Tiguan and other high-volume models. Meanwhile, preparations are already under way for the next round of expansion. This is scheduled for 2018, when production of the RAAX™ turbocharger, for the same Volkswagen engine, will launch at a further site, the Continental plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
“Right from the start, our turbocharger activities have been focused on the gasoline segment, and now this strategy has been vindicated by a sharp rise in demand for turbocharged gasoline engines,” stated Wolfgang Breuer, Head of Continental’s Engine Systems business unit, which includes the turbocharger product line.
“The new Chinese facility, where our latest technologies will be built to the highest quality standards, will secure us a strong position in the world’s largest automobile market. And by next year, when production will also launch in North America, we will have manufacturing bases across all three market regions.”
The RAAX™ turbine technology developed by Continental, which first went into production in the EA888 engine platform, improves engine response and also increases efficiency. While the most common type of gasoline turbocharger today, the radial turbocharger, features a radial exhaust gas flow to the turbine wheel, the new Continental turbocharger features a radial-axial flow – hence the name RAAX™.
This makes it possible to substantially reduce the size of the turbine wheels, and to reduce the mass moment of inertia by approximately 40%. The turbocharger therefore develops boost pressure more quickly in response to changing engine loads. A new solution has also been implemented for the wastegate valve, which stops boost pressure rising too steeply at high engine output, based on an electronically controlled electric actuator developed by Continental.
MIM has been a key technology supporting the increased use of turbochargers thanks to its ability to deliver precision net-shape components from a range of difficult to machine high-temperature alloys.