Rheinmetall partners with U.S. company on electric vehicle subcomponent

By Ethan Sterenfeld / January 13, 2022 at 12:43 PM

Rheinmetall has entered a joint venture with a U.S. company to supply an important part of electric vehicle systems, the German company announced Jan. 11.

The joint venture with PolyCharge, based in Tucson, AZ, will design and produce DC-link capacitors, according to a Rheinmetall press release. The capacitors ensure stable voltage when electric vehicles convert the direct current power in their batteries to the alternating current that motors use.

Most of the applications of the technology are expected in commercial automobiles, but there could be some applications for defense products, according to the press release.

“Rheinmetall is responding to the growing demand for e-mobility and green energy components, especially in the automotive parts sector but also from its military customers,” the press release stated.

Rheinmetall will also buy a 13% stake in PolyCharge, according to the company’s press release.

The Army has expressed interest in electric vehicles, including partial electrification of future combat vehicles. It has purchased hybrid-electric prototypes for the Robotic Combat Vehicle program, which can weight up to 10 tons with payloads.

Rheinmetall’s U.S. subsidiary is currently competing to build the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, the replacement for the Bradley fighting vehicle, which could use a hybrid-electric powertrain. BAE Systems, which builds the Bradley, won a contract in 2020 to prototype a hybrid-electric version of the vehicle.

Allison Transmission said last year that it would supply a hybrid-electric system for Rheinmetall’s Lynx armored fighting vehicle, which is expected to serve as the basis for the company’s OMFV design.

DC-link capacitors are used in hybrid-electric powertrains in addition to fully electric systems, a Rheinmetall spokeswoman wrote in response to questions this week from Inside Defense.