Energy Management & Drivetrains

At ika, the development of vehicle drives has been a long-standing research area. Research and development in this sector are of paramount importance as we aim to create a future where mobility is environmentally sustainable and cost-effective, independent of fossil fuels. To achieve this, we work on two fronts: optimizing conventional systems, such as battery electric systems, and developing forward-thinking concepts.

Our approach goes beyond energy requirements; it is centered on meeting the needs of vehicle users. Factors like application scenarios, cost reduction, sustainability, and enhanced comfort are equally significant, directly influencing vehicle energy demands.

Scenario-Oriented Drive Development

We employ cutting-edge development methodologies and tools, encompassing everything from system design to in-house prototype testing. Our tailored methodologies aid in defining requirements at the project's inception, facilitating the discovery of suitable solutions. To cater to the diverse demands of stakeholders, including manufacturers, users, and legislators, we anchor our work in various scenarios, capable of anticipating medium- and long-term trends. Our investigations extend extensively to electrified drive systems, spanning from purely battery-electric concepts to alternatives like overhead lines and fuel cells.

For comprehensive, quantitative assessments of new systems during the conceptual phase, we rely on computer programs such as MATLAB/Simulink for longitudinal dynamics simulations and FE and CFD software for component-level analysis. These simulations are instrumental in exploring a wide solution space and optimizing components for an efficient holistic system.

Thermal Management

Regardless of the drive concept, vehicles generate waste heat that is currently only partially utilized for heating purposes. Innovative approaches can harness this waste heat to reduce the strain on energy-intensive auxiliary units, such as air-conditioning compressors, thereby enhancing overall vehicle efficiency.

In the development of drive concepts like battery-electric vehicles, thermal management plays an increasingly central role due to rising cooling requirements for electrical storage units. Simultaneously, available waste heat is diminishing. This presents a challenge, as heating and dehumidification demands for comfort and safety reasons remain substantial. With decreasing waste heat, additional components must be provided to meet heating and dehumidification needs. However, these additional components increase system costs and reduce vehicle efficiency. Therefore, we are researching new air conditioning concepts and innovative control strategies to harmonize efficiency and comfort.


Our involvement in automotive energy systems ranges from integrating new vehicle technologies to devising innovative energy management mechanisms and protection concepts. We perform specific investigations using simulation tools to design the vehicle electrical system. Testing of developed algorithms and the analysis of fault cases are conducted in the on-board power supply laboratory or directly in the vehicle. We utilize tools like MATLAB/Simulink for functional algorithm development and automated C code generation for microcontroller-based control units.

We are at the forefront of research in implementing service-oriented software architectures and communication interfaces for vehicle components.

Prototype Construction in Our Workshops

In our design department, we create essential 3D CAD models, complemented by calculations and dimensioning of required components. Prototype construction for mechanical, fluidic, and electrical/electronic components takes place in our well-equipped workshops. For software development, we employ tools that enable code generation at ECU level directly from the simulation environment. Furthermore, we consider diagnostics and functional safety for series applications. Various component and system test benches, along with our dedicated test track, facilitate testing and optimizing newly developed prototypes.

Range of Services

Apart from handling complete development projects, we offer individual development process steps as standalone services. Our standard services include simulation calculations, technical assessments, hardware and software development, algorithm creation, as well as partially and fully automated test bench investigations. Our scope of activities in the field of energy management and drivetrains also includes advanced studies, research for government ministries, and support for fleet tests. Recognizing the significant industry changes, we conduct seminars for training and continuing education.

Selected Projects


© Institute for Automotive Engineering (ika) - RWTH Aachen University / Lutz Eckstein Electric, connected and automated. The transformation of road traffic wants to be actively shaped and contribute …


Current Projects


Powering EU Net Zero Future by Escalating Zero Emission HDVs and Logistic Intelligence

Heavy-duty vehicles account for about 25 % of EU road transport CO2 emissions and about six percent of total EU emissions. In line with the Paris Agreement and Green Deal targets, Regulation (EU) 2019/1242 …



Development of test methods for electrified heavy-duty powertrains based on multiphysics hardware-in-the-loop test benches

One focus of the eTestHiL research project is to explore the possibilities of purpose design in the development of electric drives for heavy commercial vehicles (HDV). For this purpose, the eTestHiL starts …


BEV Goes eHighway


At the beginning of January 2022, the project "BEV Goes eHighway - BEE" was launched. The aim of the project is to further develop overhead line technology for heavy-duty road transport in order to establish …



Fail-safe and efficient electric drive system for robot taxis

The AnRox project addresses intelligent fail-safe drive systems for future automated vehicles as a basis for safe operation, high user acceptance and economic business models for providers. The aim is …


Post graduate program mobilEM

Integrated Energy Supply Modules for Roadbound E-Mobility

The challenge to drastically reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions despite growing energy demand requires decisive changes in energy supply, conversion and storage technologies. For the transport sector, …



Damian Backes M.Sc.
Manager Research Area
Energy Management and Drivetrains
+49 241 80 25420

Equipment and test benches


Student theses

Selection of current theses:


Institute for Automotive Engineering
RWTH Aachen University
Steinbachstraße 7
52074 Aachen · Germany
+49 241 80 25600

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