Preparation with booster, battery administration system and DC/DC converter

The world’s first for e-mobility

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Over ten years ago, Breh in Bad Neustadt ventured into an entirely new segment of products: components for electric vehicles. Thanks to our flexible and transparent development work, the supplier has now earned a good reputation here. The resulting business area will soon generate half of the company’s sales.

The total production of Preh High Voltage Laboratory is 1.5 megawatts.

(Photo: Preh)

In 2008, there were about 2,000 electric cars registered in Germany. In the same year, Tesla ran into financial problems and managed to avoid bankruptcy at the last second. Statistics for 2010 show that the electric car manufacturer sold a good 2,000 roadster units at that time – all over the world.

In retrospect, this is when the foundation for popular e-cars was laid – long before e-mobility became mass-appropriate. Among these icons is the BMW i3. Like the i8, the small electric car appeared on the market only in 2013, but the development began several years ago.

We can validate any vehicle power electronics in our high voltage lab.

Zhengxin “Charlie” Tsai, CEO of Preh . Group

These two models in particular are closely related to the history of Preh’s E-Mobility Division. Because together with the supplier, headquartered in Bad Neustadt an der Saale in northern Bavaria, the Munich-based company developed the battery management system for the first i models. Even today, Preh is proud to have been given preference over the largest and most prestigious suppliers of these vehicles. This is despite the fact that there was not a single Preh product for electronic cars until that time.

flexible and open

Dr. remembers. Joachim Wagner, who has been there since the beginning and is now responsible for the pre-development of e-navigation. The organization’s resilience and willingness to share knowledge spoke in Preh’s favor. In addition, the supplier has already acquired a significant amount of knowledge in the field of electronics development – eg for safety-related components and the topic “Functional Safety”.

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In the meantime, 100 million euros have been invested in the still young division. “We are mostly developing on our own” says Managing Director Zhengxin “Charlie” Cai, who is clearly proud of the outcome of the development work. In fiscal year 2021, Preh generated €1.3 billion in sales. The share of the e-mobility department is about a fifth.

In addition, Breh co-financed the Technology Transfer Center for Electronic Mobility in Bad Neustadt. TTZ, as it is called for short, is part of the Würzburg-Schweinfurt University of Applied Sciences and, together with two professors, conducts significant research work in the areas of battery systems, electrical machines, power electronics, and control technology. For example, the balancing of active cells in batteries was examined with TTZ personnel.

For Preh, cooperation is a win-win situation: in addition to the transfer of knowledge, the supplier can engage young people in development work at an early stage and thus get to know them. There are now many developers in the e-mobility department who switched to Preh after their studies. “And they stay with us,” Wagner says happily. “It’s part of our growth story.”

tekkan supporter

Today, Preh provides much more than battery management systems for the auto industry – like onboard chargers at various power levels. The mid-size supplier has also pioneered again – this time with 800-volt technology for Porsche. For the “Taycan” model, they developed a so-called “booster” and DC / DC converter. The latter is designed as a multi-transformer that converts 800V direct current into 400V, 48V and 12V – depending on the consumer in the car, such as the air conditioning compressor, cylinder stabilizer and on-board electrical system.

Additional to the topic

Pioneering Work by Preh: 800V Boost Technology

At his premiere at the end of 2019, he was
The Porsche Taycan is the world’s first production sports car with an 800-volt electric system. There is a Preh high voltage booster on board so that the entire 400V charging infrastructure can be used for these 800V vehicles.
With an output of either 50 or 150 kW, it enables 800-volt vehicles to be charged at 400-volt fast charging stations. The output 400V is “boosted” to 800V by converting the voltage.

The booster, in turn, ensures that the Taycan can be connected to the public charging network (see info box above), which normally operates at 400 volts.

In order to be able to develop such products, which are completely new for the whole industry, in the shortest possible time, Preh invested in its own high-voltage laboratory at its headquarters in Bad Neustadt. Brih noticed how specific the HV lab was when they wanted to take different measurements in parallel and were looking for external capacities for that: the required DSPs did not have a “high voltage lab” in which they could carry out measurements. The Preh Group’s High Voltage Laboratory currently operates five test benches with an output capacity of 250 kW with currents of up to 600 amperes. The total power available for testing is 1.5 MW.

The trend is towards more compact and more efficient solutions.

Dr. Joachim Wagner, Head of Pre-development Electronic Mobility at Preh GmbH in Bad Neustadt

What’s next for the e-mobility section? The prospects are so good that Charlie Kay certainly anticipates significant growth: “In addition to BMW, we are expanding our business with other world-class OEMs.” , among other things as clients. By 2030, sales in the e-mobility division are expected to be nearly as high as those in the HMI business. The resource then has two economically strong pillars. You have to build staff for this; And sooner or later, another high-voltage lab will also be necessary in order to be able to process the orders.

“Right now, we’re focusing on globalizing ourselves more,” says CEO Kay, setting out the direction. Brih sees it in good standing with R&D teams in China, Germany, Romania and the USA: “We have the resources for the global development team.” This gives the supplier the opportunity to address OEMs on different continents and in different markets, she says to keep a close eye on and understand their respective specifications.

Use the capabilities of the wallet

On the product side, the wallet will not be expanded initially. There is still huge potential in young product groups. “That’s what we should focus on,” Kay says. For example, customers want greater integration of components in the future. At Preh, for example, they work on an on-board charger with a DC/DC converter in a single housing. “The trend is toward more and more integrated solutions and more efficiency,” says Wagner, summarizing this claim.

In the course of our growth, there are currently several vacancies in the development center of Preh Group.

Zhengxin “Charlie” Tsai, CEO of Preh . Group

The supplier is also developing its own operations landscape. In terms of procurement and material flow, e-mobility projects differ significantly from HMI’s business. Collective platforms for different vehicle lines and high prices for power electronics ensure large project sizes. “We are developing some new ways of working with our OEMs,” Tsai says. It’s about sharing knowledge and risks. This also applies to the purchase of important components such as power units. Here, Preh works closely with its suppliers.

In a good ten years, Preh has grown from a single project to an operational business unit that is now producing globally and providing customers with large scale vehicle platforms. The electronic car market is still on the rise. “We are looking for many engineers for our growth in the field of e-mobility. But that does not mean that we are ignoring our traditional area – the HMI business”, emphasizes Kay. “Of course we continue to invest on a large scale here!”

(No.: 48392698)

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