Charging power. Infrastructure. Longer battery life. Every time the industry comes together for the CTI Symposium, we get a clearer picture of the technology development toward our electric future. What used to be baby steps has certainly accelerated in recent years with all the OEMs putting a variety of ideas in the suggestion box to provide unique electrification developments to meet looming CO2 regulations. Here’s a summary from the show:
North American Powertrain Outlook
Currently, BEVs are expanding across segments and price points with a widening supply chain and a growing infrastructure. Michael Fiske, S&P Global, reported that the average percentage of U.S. BEV sales by segment between 2020 – 2030 will look like this:
The average percentage of U.S. ICE sales by segment between 2020 – 2030 will look like this:
This acceleration in BEV demand will continue throughout the decade. Though it will be much more aggressive in Europe and China than the United States. Over this extended forecast, the need for traditional powertrain plants will drop significantly. We’ll see a significant drop in engine and transmission plants as we head towards 2030 – 2035.
While there is still uncertainty over the speed, breadth and depth of the electrification transition here in the United States, the direction of e-mobility, according to Fiske, is clear: Electric vehicles are here to stay.
The Uncompromising Electric Machine
Matthias Beringer, ZF, discussed the electric machine’s contribution to e-drives by focusing on higher power density, efficiency up to 96.5% and how the weight of the components and vehicles will be just as important as efficiency to meet CO2 footprint goals. Components for electric vehicles will need to be designed for sustainability from the very beginning of the process. This will involve several different concepts and technologies as the industry attempts to “reinvent” the drivetrain.
Wilhelm Vallant, AVL, separated the key challenges into three areas:
Powertrain System: system efficiency, NVH, cost
Transmission: Topology, package and level of integration and efficiency
E-Drive: Peak/continuous performance, power/torque, torque ripple and phase current limitation
NVH Challenges in Electric Vehicles
While ICE vehicles are dominated by combustion engine noise, BEVs are dominated by wind and road noise. NVH trends include examining road noise development with a focus on interior noise simulation and new body structure boundaries. Wind noise development focuses on simulation of noise excitation. Today, manufacturers are looking at weight reduction and sustainability requirements with the same NVH performance challenges.
Electric vehicles present unique challenges and provide unique opportunities for NVH development. To avoid objectionable noise content from the Electric Drive Unit (EDU) in the vehicle, NVH requirements need to be considered during both EDU development and vehicle integration using CAE and test-based methodologies, according to Alex Ford, FEV North America.
Advanced multi-physics-based simulation methodologies, e.g., using MBS/FEA can be utilized to optimize the EDU-level NVH behavior. Advanced test-based methodologies such as FEV-EDSL can be used to further refine the EDU-level NVH characteristics and facilitate smooth integration. Advanced AVAS-synthesis approaches can be used to balance legislative and refinement needs. Finally, active sound design (ASD) approaches offer potential to further improve the refinement of the vehicle while providing unique brand character.
The most fascinating discussions during the CTI Symposium involved consumer requirements. Potential consumers interested in purchasing all-electric vehicles have similar wants/needs. They want the sticker prices to go down. They want significantly less charging times. They require longer cruising ranges. They want better incentive programs. Interest in BEV vehicles is growing, but not all customers are ready to make the transition to full BEV so there is still strong growth for hybrid vehicles. The OEMs that smartly create products for both key segments, hybrid and BEV, will be the winners that will stand out.
The heavy-duty electric truck market is another area that will be closely monitored. Alex Edwards, Strategic Vision, helps companies understand human behavior and decision-making patterns. Edwards discussed consumer wants during the panel discussion “What Does it Take to for the EV Truck to get Mainstream?”
“An electric truck needs to be a truck,” he said. “Consumers really need that usefulness and capability that a truck provides. They are not interested in any kind of compromise. 40 percent of truck owners today are open to the idea of purchasing an electric truck.”
Edwards continued, “The message to consumers can’t be all about fuel efficiency or mileage, it must be about performance, low-end torque, tow/carry capacity, etc. How is the all-electric powertrain going to mirror the ICE trucks that they continue to purchase here in the United States?”
One panelist discussed the challenges towing snowmobiles to Northern Michigan for a winter weekend getaway in an all-electric truck test run. Charging stations were out of the way and difficult to navigate. The BEV battery lost about 50 percent of its charge in the colder temperatures. The driver had to unhitch the trailer to charge the vehicle. These are not the kind of results that will send consumers running to dealerships with their checkbooks.
However, the entire panel was well aware of the challenges ahead in the coming years and what will need to change in order for electric trucks to become mainstream.
The panel discussion on battery problems in cold weather was addressed later in the day by a presentation from Brett Allossery, Schaeffler Group USA Inc., called, “Holistic Thermal Management Systems and Solutions for BEVs and their Subsystems.”
Allossery looked at three decisive factors for thermal management in electric vehicles including: Remaining cold ambient range, charging speed and affordability. These factors can be optimized utilizing an advanced heat pump system, optimized direct battery cooling and a higher component integration level. In order to get the most out of the thermal management architecture, a holistic system must be in place with integrated systems and subsystems.
“If we can increase the efficiency of the vehicle, we may be able to raise consumer confidence in the process,” Allossery said during the presentation. “With varying levels of integration, you can combine thermal management components to achieve more efficient vehicles.”
Schaeffler sees advancements in heat pump systems that can offer increased vehicle range and battery lifetime or the ability to use smaller batteries in certain applications.
CTI Symposium Berlin 2022 takes place December 5-8, 2022.