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Sebastian Wielgos studied electrical engineering and information technology in Mannheim and Munich and has worked as a project leader in the “Innovation Projects” department at Schaeffler in Herzogenaurach since 2013.

Green Products

On the Path to the Drive Train of the Future

Sebastian Wielgos Project Manager, “Innovation Projects” Department

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How will we get around in the future? And how can mobility be as environmentally friendly as possible? Schaeffler already has answers to these questions and is setting standards with its innovative product portfolio. One example is its electric wheel hub drive, which is enabling entirely new mobility concepts. Sebastian Wielgos and his team advanced the development of this drive train over the course of five years, bringing it to series production.

Pioneering Work

Developing a new technology from the very start, being part of the process as an idea becomes a concept, and, finally, a product ready for market – that’s what Sebastian Wielgos loves about his work. The thirty-two-year-old is a project manager in the “Innovation Projects” department of the “Innovation and Applied Research” unit at Schaeffler.

In the unit, which was founded quite recently, Wielgos and his team get exactly what they need: lots of freedom to do real pioneering work. “The path to a new technical solution is never clearly laid out beforehand,” Wielgos explains. “It is the result of many creative minds observing current trends and using them to develop new solutions.”

One of these trends is sustainable mobility. Above all in cities and urban centers, how people get from A to B in a way that is environmentally friendly is becoming increasingly important. “Even early on, it was clear to us that we wanted to play a part in shaping urban mobility,” Wielgos says. Over the last five years, Wielgos has worked with his colleagues to develop an innovative electric wheel hub drive. What makes it special: The entire drive technology of a car – including the electric motor, power electronics, brakes, and cooling systems – has been compactly built into the rim of a wheel. This saves space and enables entirely new spatial concepts. For example, for “people movers” – autonomously driven microbuses that may be deployed in urban spaces in the near future.

Ready for Series Production

The advantages have been further confirmed in a study that Schaeffler carried out in cooperation with the carmaker Ford. The study showed that the wheel hub drive affords passengers in a vehicle the size of a Ford Ka as much interior space as in the larger Ford Fiesta, which has a conventional internal combustion engine. The wheel hub drive is entirely electric. If the batteries are charged with green electricity, the car can be operated in a way that is climate neutral.

After years of intensive development, Wielgos and his team handed off the wheel hub drive project to the newly founded E-Mobility business division in 2018. This division is responsible for bringing the drive to series production. The road for Wielgos has been a long one. Again and again, he and his team had to optimize individual components of the drive and work meticulously to find the best solution. “In this innovation project, we had to balance different parameters such as performance, efficiency, or weight. But, in the end, we were able to find the right balance.”

Now, Wielgos – who grew up in Herzogenaurach – is already thinking ahead: about an electric drive for lightweight vehicles, for example, or visionary topics like urban air mobility. “No one says that urban mobility has to take place only on the streets.” For Schaeffler, sustainable mobility offers many opportunities. That’s why the company is researching how fuel cells can be used for various mobility applications. “With our knowledge in the area of material and surface technology and our competence in production technology, we can make a contribution to the development and supply of innovative components and systems for fuel cells with increased efficiency,” Wielgos says. This certainly won’t be the last time that this pioneer develops a new idea to market readiness.

Transforming mobility.