AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Nov. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- For years, the automotive industry has been talking about introducing mild hybrid systems based on 48-volt technology. Continental has now begun volume production of the first low-voltage hybrid drive, which will be introduced by French carmaker Renault (model: Renault Scenic Hybrid Assist) by year-end 2016. The first production solution combines an efficient, water-cooled induction motor with an integrated inverter. The electric motor transmits power via a belt drive directly to the crankshaft of the combustion engine - an arrangement referred to by experts as "P0 topology." Further production ramp-ups are soon to be set in motion on the basis of a modular system for 48-volt drives. "We are proud that we were able to secure Renault as the first customer for our innovative 48-volt drive," said Juergen Wiesenberger, Head of Hybrid Electric Vehicles at Continental North America. "Other production launches for both diesel and gasoline vehicles are in the pipeline for North America, Europe and China." According to Continental, the market for 48-volt drives will experience significant growth in the coming years. "In 2025, approximately one in five new vehicles across the world will be equipped with a 48-volt drive," Wiesenberger added. 48-volt is considered a progressive technology, as the low voltage compared with conventional hybrid vehicles enables considerable savings in fuel consumption in return for moderate additional costs. As a result, Continental anticipates that market penetration will be rapid, with four million vehicles with low-voltage hybrid drives to be produced worldwide in 2020. For 2030, the technology supplier's experts forecast a global market of as many as 25 million new vehicles. During development of the modular system, the engineers at Continental placed great emphasis on achieving a high degree of efficiency for the overall system, simple adaptation to existing vehicle powertrain designs, and highly automated, cost-effective production.