Ford will use Volkswagen’s MEB platform for EVs to produce new battery electric vehicle (BEV) for the European market. This follows on from the alliance formed between the two carmakers which has so far seen Ford providing the latest Ranger truck for Volkswagen to adapt as its second generation Amarok.

The first Ford model to use the MEB will be a BEV crossover and production is expected to be underway at the Ford Electrification Centre in Cologne, Germany from 2023. Ford has confirmed one model with a total volume of around 600,000 units but a second one is expected, also likely to be a crossover based on what was shown of the BEV range in March this year.


The Zhejiang Geely Holding Group – more commonly referred to as Geely – is relatively young in the global auto industry, having been established in 1986. Yet over the past decade, it has acquired several well-known international automotive brands and formed alliances or partnerships with others. Its business today spans the automotive value chain, from research, development and design to production, sales and servicing.

The latest partnership announced today is with Renault SA where a 50-50 joint venture will be formed for producing petrol engines and developing hybrid technology that will be used by each company’s brands, and possibly supplied to others.


China’s auto industry made limited progress in the decades before 1980 and the vehicles its manufacturers produced were technologically outdated. In the mid-1980s when the country opened up and the economy rapidly grew, demand for cars also rose quickly and the young carmakers initially had agreements and joint ventures with foreign companies to acquire modern technology.

At the same time, companies like Chery also worked towards developing its own technology base and reduce dependence on ‘imported’ technology. It was a long journey and by 1999, the company was able to produce its first engine. From then on, with more advanced R&D and greater investments, its engine range widened and evolved. Today, many of its engines are in the third generation and nine of them have been listed among China’s Top 10 engines. To date, the company has made over 10 million engines which power vehicles in China and other countries.

An early Chery engine in the 2003 QQ model.

All-Domain Power Architecture
As demand for New Energy Vehicles (NEV) grows with the demand for reduced energy consumption and low carbon emissions globally, Chery is taking its All-Domain Power Architecture – encompassing traditional, hybrid and fully-electric powertrains – to the next developmental stage, to respond to these demands.

Currently, three of the company’s 4th generation engines have completed thermodynamic development and are in the bench calibration phase, and development of the first 5th generation engine has been given the go-ahead. The design of this state-of-the-art engine is expected to be finalised by the end of June 2023 and will be installed in a production model by 2024.

Chery’s R&D team includes multi-national experts in the powertrain field.

Hybrid powertrain
This new engine is a hybrid powertrain with a turbocharged 1.5-litre engine, direct fuel injection, an i-HEC 4.0 intelligent high-efficiency combustion system and low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation technology. It is said to be able  to achieve an industry-leading thermal efficiency of 43.9%.

The preliminary research programme on high-efficiency engines, adopting pre-chamber jet ignition and lean-burn technologies, has met its target of better than 45% thermal efficiency in the laboratory.

One of Chery’s latest engines, used in the Tiggo Pro SUV.

Chery has also developed a Dedicated Hybrid Transmission (DHT) with dual motors, 9 operating modes, 11 gear combinations and twin-shaft drive, making it the first of its kind amongst Chinese brands.

Key R&D project
Earlier this year, a national key R&D project headed by Chery – the ‘new-type, cost-effective, passenger car powertrain development vehicle integration project’ – passed project acceptance in Wuhu, China. The outcome of the project was Chery’s first-generation DHT – 3DHT125 – which found its way into the Tiggo 8 Pro e+.

In March, the company’s ‘dedicated hybrid engine (DHE) development’ project, another national key R&D project, passed the appraisal of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and the jury of experts for project acceptance. This project focuses on research into high-compression ratio deep Miller cycle and high lean-burn combustion to enhance the performance of Chery’s 4th and 5th generation engines.

The company aims to further optimise its 3-speed DHTs for mid-sized plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) while developing a single-speed DHT for compact and sub-compact PHEVs and hybrid electric vehicles.

Having made its debut in the NEV market in 1999, Chery’s powertrain matrix does not end at combustion engines and hybrids. In 2017, the Chery EQ1 battery electric vehicle (BEV) was launched in China and two years later, Chery exhibited its 3rd generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with 30 kW fuel cell stacks that can be topped up with hydrogen in 3 minutes. The range achieved by these vehicles is said to be over 700 kms.

Chery’s All-Domain Power Architecture thus encompasses all types of current and future powertrains that use fossil fuel, electricity or hydrogen. Its technological capability is therefore comprehensive to cover automotive powertrain development during the next 30 years.

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Geely Holding (or more correctly, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in full) has been building up its portfolio of brands over the past two decades. While allowing the brands – which include Lotus, Volvo, Polestar and Proton – to operate autonomously, there has also been a strong effort to fully utilise the available synergies that such a large group of companies enables. Sharing resources can give a competitive edge in the business and Geely Holding has therefore not just developed the car companies but also looked at how it can create its own ecosystem for other elements.

One important area is powertrains and while each of the companies has had its own R&D in this area, a ‘centralised’ powertrain company would be beneficial to the group. To establish this, Geely Holding has announced a joint-venture with Volvo Cars to create Aurobay, a new company that will be in the powertrain business. The new company will be a global supplier of complete powertrain solutions including next-generation combustion engines, transmissions and hybrid solutions.

Aurobray will get Volvo’s engine facilities
Aurobay will initially be jointly owned by Volvo Cars and Geely Holding and as part of the creation of Aurobay, Volvo Cars will transfer all assets in its wholly-owned subsidiary Powertrain Engineering Sweden, including its engine plant in Sweden as well as the related R&D team, along with its engine plant in China and other relevant assets to the joint-venture in coming months.

The creation of the stand-alone joint venture and the transfer of assets allows Volvo Cars to focus fully on the development of its new range of all-electric models in coming years. The company aims to have 50% of its global sales volume made up of fully electric vehicles by 2025, of which 50% will be hybrids using powertrains supplied by Aurobay. By 2030, it will no longer sell vehicles with combustion ends and offer only fully electric models.

For Geely Holding, the new entity will benefit from the addition of a strong R&D team and technologically advanced and efficient combustion engines and hybrid powertrains for its portfolio of brands, creating a strong base for substantial operational, industrial and financial synergies.

Supply to other companies outside Geely Group
The new business also has plans to supply customers outside of the Geely Holding Group, with the objective of becoming a leading player in the supply of high-quality, low emission, cost-efficient powertrains solutions. The supply of engines to other companies isn’t something unusual and larger carmakers have been doing so for a long time. For example, Proton used to source engines for the Waja and Savvy from Renault.

Besides making and supplying powertrains to Geely Holding Group companies, Aurobray will also supply them to other companies.

Besides the new powertrain business, Geely Holding and Volvo Cars have other plans for collaboration. These include sharing of electric vehicle architecture, joint procurement, autonomous drive technologies and aftersales.

“As shareholders and portfolio-managers of both wholly-owned and listed companies, Geely Holding sees significant benefits from deeper partnerships and alliances whilst maintaining independence,” said Li Shufu, Chairman of Geely Holding. “We are encouraged by the potential synergies and growth opportunities created by this collaboration, which will create two even stronger globally competitive companies in the rapidly changing world of automotive technology and new mobility services.”

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The development of Renault’s E-TECH powertrains drew on the company’s experience in Formula 1 and also contributing has been a LEGO model. Yes, those little plastic blocks that can be attached together to form cars which have entertained children for over 70 years. The development story actually began at the end of the last decade. It was a time when Renault was stepping up its electrification program and advancing hybrid technology was an important step towards developing electric vehicles (EVs).

Nicolas Fremau, a member of the hybrid powertrain team, saw that using the LEGO parts – which includes gear wheels, could form a drivetrain. He built a working model from the parts and then demonstrated it to Ahmed Ketfi-Cherif, Renault’s Mechatronics Synthesis Architect and his team. Immediately, the engineers realised that if it could work in the LEGO prototype, it could surely also work as a working powertrain for a car.

Ahmed Ketfi-Cherif (left), Renault’s Mechatronics Synthesis Architect, was involved in the E-TECH’s development which began with a prototype made from LEGO parts.

Smooth operation a priority
Ahmed, who works as a control specialist, needed to ensure that transitions between driving modes were possible with a simple ‘dog clutch’. Normally used in competition cars, the dog clutch system – which replaces both a sprocket and synchronising ring in a clutchless configuration – is a gearbox boasting superior efficiency due to the reduced number of components.

This particular type of ‘flat’ version works well over time and is more reliable than other types of dog clutch. However, the team needed to find a solution to make the system smoother, as the components are less likely to fit together than in alternative setups such as a ‘roof’ dog clutch. Furthermore, unlike racing car drivers, customers who bought cars from a showroom for daily use also expected quality and smoothness.

“We’re used to using dog clutches in Formula One, for a racing engine. But it was something completely new for a ‘general public’ engine. We had to make this simple object usable by customers,” explained Ketfi-Cherif, who understood that a smooth and refined drive of much higher importance than winning lap times.

Adding a high-voltage starter generator
The team quickly came up with the solution to ensure enhanced smoothness by adding a second electric motor, called a High-voltage Starter Generator (HSG). “Its role is to replace the synchronisers of a traditional gearbox to facilitate the clutch and therefore the gear change. By working in conjunction with the electric motor, it allows very precise regulation of the speed of rotation of the gearbox for smooth gear changes,” he explained.

From this, the original LEGO model concept was updated and tested on the road. They discovered the HSG brought other benefits with immediate torque contribution smoothing acceleration at low speeds, avoiding any break in torque delivery when changing gears.

This also meant the system could operate as a series hybrid for enhanced comfort and flexibility, without the need for an excess of stored energy or a charging socket. According to Ketfi-Cherif, the possibilities for use in the range were multiplied, with both E-TECH hybrid and E-TECH plug-in hybrid powertrains now possible.

At the end of these tests, the E-TECH development teams were reassured that what had worked in the LEGO concept and in simulation also worked ‘extremely well’ in real life. A ‘toy’ had become an engineering reality, allowing up to 80% of urban driving to be done on just electricity, and having the extra boost in power or range with the petrol engine assisting when needed.

2021 Renault 5 Prototype

2021 Renault 5 Prototype


Throughout its 67-year life, the original Land Rover Defender was offered only with petrol or diesel engines. That’s not unusual since it was developed from a product of the late 1940s, long before the era of zero emissions and greater consciousness to preserve the environment. Its powertrains were robust, as required by customers, and had been improved to deliver better performance and meet progressively stricter emission control regulations.

However, when it came to developing the successor, the world had become a very different place. From the 1970s onwards, air pollution – blamed largely on exhaust emissions from motor vehicles – persuaded governments to introduce regulations forcing carmakers to reduce emissions. These regulations, especially in the more developed countries, kept getting tougher and tougher. And with rising fuel prices, there was also a need to reduce fuel consumption even if there was indifference to concerns about fossil fuel supplies diminishing and running out at some point in the future.

2019 Land Rover Defender

Electrification the way to go
For Land Rover, as for other carmakers, it was clear that there were limitations to engineering the internal combustion engine to meet toughest regulations. The better solution was to use electrification, an approach that had become increasingly viable since Toyota and Honda introduced hybrid powertrains in the late 1990s. Pure electric powertrains remain expensive due to the high technology costs but hybrids are now into the mainstream and almost every carmaker has adopted the technology.

So for the new Defender, it was clear that while less developed markets would still require conventional engines, the future dictated that there must be a hybrid powertrain under the bonnet. This led to the development of Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) technology that is available from launch while a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) powertrain will join the range next year. This will offer silent zero-emissions driving in EV-mode, giving Land Rover owners an entirely new experience off-road.


MHEV with 48V system
A key feature of the Defender’s MHEV is its 48-volt battery pack consisting of 14 x 8Ah lithium-ion pouch cells that can store up to 200Wh of electricity. The MHEV system is not new to Land Rover, having first been used in the Evoque and has been further refined. Separate from the normal vehicle battery, it generates up to 142.5 Nm of torque which enhances acceleration.

A DC/DC converter installed at the back provides energy to the battery pack as well as the vehicle’s conventional battery. There’s also a Belt-Integrated Starter Generator which ‘harvests’ electrical energy while driving. Whenever the driver lifts off on the throttle pedal, electricity is regenerated to the battery pack where it can be utilized.

2019 Land Rover Defender
The new Defender’s platform has been engineered for conventional petrol and diesel powertrains as well as hybrid powertrains.

The in-line 6-cylinder 3-litre Ingenium petrol engine features both a conventional twin-scroll turbocharger and an advanced 7 kW electric supercharger. In combination with the other advanced technologies, total output is 400 ps/550 Nm with a claimed 0 – 100 km/h time of 6.1 seconds. Fuel consumption is claimed to be 10.4 kms/litre.

Software updating – without going to the service centre
The extensive array of electronic systems in the new Defender mean that ‘future-proofing’ is necessary and software updates can be sent over the air periodically. Up to 14 onboard electronic control modules, more than any previous Jaguar Land Rover vehicle, can receive updates, without the need to visit a Land Rover service centre. In this way, the Defender will get better with age. Customers in remote locations can still get the updates – all that’s required is a data connection via a satellite-phone.

2019 Land Rover Defender

2019 Land Rover Defender

Although electronic systems installed in motor vehicles these days are ‘hardened’ and able to withstand the harsh conditions during daily use, they have to endure even more severe and extreme conditions in a vehicle like the Defender. Given that many owners will go off-road and over the roughest terrain on the planet, Land Rover engineers had to conduct rigorous testing all over the world and in the most extreme conditions. Serious attention was given to electrical connections and the effects of impacts on components like the battery pack. Even in the 21st century, the original 4×4 reborn has to maintain as well set new standards for toughness and capability.

Click here to read more about the New Land Rover Defender



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