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Achieving Carbon Neutrality at Valeo

By Valeo Contributed Article
Valeo technology has been adapted to e-bikes. The tech integrates an electric motor and an adaptive automatic transmission in the pedal assembly. With this new electric assistance system, the bike adapts to the cyclist. (All images provided by Valeo)

Manufacturers from a wide of variety of fields from automotive to aerospace today are focused on reducing their carbon footprints and contributing to improvements in the environment.

Automotive suppliers, such as Valeo, are taking aggressive steps to reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming, even developing electrification technology for use in non-automotive fields such as the bicycle industry.

“The entire auto industry is investing heavily to combat global warming,” says Valeo Chairman and CEO Jacques Aschenbroich. “At Valeo, the reduction of CO2 emissions has been central to our strategy since 2010, and sales generated from technologies that help to reduce CO2 emissions have grown 20-fold to around 10 billion euros in 2021.”

Jacques Aschenbroich, CEO

Earlier this year, Valeo intensified its environmental focus by committing to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. It intends to reach 45 percent of that goal within the next 10 years. By 2030, Valeo plans to decrease emissions by 45 percent across its entire value chain.

This includes emissions from its suppliers, its own operating activities and the end-use of its products compared to 2019.

To achieve its goals, Valeo will continue to expand its portfolio of technologies, especially in the area of vehicle electrification where it describes itself as already the world leader. In 2020, 60 percent of Valeo’s sales came from technologies that help reduce CO2 emissions. And today, one in every three vehicles worldwide is equipped with Valeo technology that contributes to reductions in CO2 emissions.

Technology Platforms for New Solutions

The platforms developed for the automotive industry give the company the flexibility to equip new mobility solutions from the same technology base. For example, Valeo recently adapted its leading-edge 48V motor technology for use on bicycles and created the Smart e-Bike System.

The system is the most high-performance electric assistance system for bikes to date, combining performance, efficiency, intelligence, comfort, robustness and ease of use.

It is the first solution in the world to integrate both an electric motor and an adaptive automatic transmission in the pedal assembly. With this new electric assistance system, the bike adapts to the cyclist and not the other way around. Gears change automatically and the system’s algorithms instantly adapt to the amount of electric assistance the cyclist needs from the first pedal stroke.

Valeo’s technology, developed in partnership with Effigear, comprises a 48V electric motor and a seven-speed automatic, adaptive gearbox in a single unit located in the pedal assembly to provide the best electric assist for bikes to date. Given the motor’s torque of 130 N-m, it can multiply the cyclist’s effort by eight-fold, while other systems on the market only offer up to a five-fold boost.

People Adapted Electric Bike Technology

Used on a cargo bike, Valeo’s technology allows a cyclist carrying a 330-pound load to climb a 14 percent gradient (the equivalent of a parking lot ramp) without breaking a sweat, whether moving forward or in reverse. Valeo’s electric motor is also more efficient than the 24 V or 36 V motors installed on the vast majority of e-bikes available today.

The adaptive automatic transmission, which is a world first for electric bikes, uses an algorithm to understand and instantly adjust to each person’s needs.

A rider takes an e-bike equipped with Valeo technology out for a spin.

The gears shift smoothly, without levers or the need to press a button. Thanks to Valeo, electric bikes now can benefit from the same advantages as cars in terms of adaptive automatic gearboxes.

The Valeo Smart e-Bike System also includes an anti-theft function integrated directly into the pedal assembly that, when activated, blocks use of the bike. It also has a pedestrian push-assist function, which is particularly useful when carrying heavy loads. There also is a boost function that makes it easier to overtake other cyclists and climb hills.

Building a Robust System for e-bikes

While historically bikes have systematically evolved through the addition of new components, Valeo started from scratch, developing a system that eliminates the need for many vulnerable bike parts.

There is no longer any need for derailleurs, sprockets, handlebar shifters or the cables that go with them. The traditional bike chain can now be replaced by a cleaner belt system. Valeo’s electric-bike technology can eliminate around 50 parts that are often fragile and require constant maintenance.

On average, a traditional model needs to be serviced at least once a month, even if it is just to tighten the chain, lubricate the chain and/or derailleurs, or put the chain back in place. The company’s technology has eliminated an e-bike’s weakest link: the chain.

Valeo does not plan to build or sell bicycles, but will supply its new e-bike technology to traditional bicycle manufacturers. The company has developed three prototypes for demonstration purposes: a city bike, a mountain bike and a cargo bike for transporting loads (featuring unique reversing and braking energy recovery functions).

Valeo is revolutionizing e-bike drivetrains with a system that already meets the best and most demanding automotive standards in terms of quality, robustness, durability and safety.

Booming Market

The e-bike market is booming globally with more than a fifteen-fold expansion expected over the next 10 years. More e-bikes were sold in Germany last year than the total number of electric cars sold throughout Europe. And in China the number of e-bikes now totals 300 million with annual sales of about 30 million, according to the China Bicycle Association.

The market for electric cargo bikes and other commercial applications designed for delivery services is also set to grow substantially as environmental regulations restrict access to city centers for certain vehicles.

Edited by Senior Editor Bill Koenig from information provided by Valeo.

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