Batteries are Key to Automotive Revolution

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD



Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD

Welcome to the combined July/August issue of PSD! It’s been a very strange year. All trade shows have been cancelled because of coronavirus, and many companies are trying to be innovative with their launches. There have been a few virtual events and even virtual trade shows over the past couple of months. Those virtual events include our own panel presentation, which was well attended and very informative. If you missed it, you can watch it on demand here It is well worth an hour of your time.

There are many areas of the industry that will be subject to large changes over the coming years. Remote diagnostics and telemedicine will revolutionize healthcare. Industry 4.0 will change manufacturing by making processes faster and more efficient, while predicting machine failures early. But for me, the automotive industry faces the greatest change. While other industries will do much the same as they are doing now, but quicker, cheaper and more efficiently through automation and AI, the automotive industry is facing a change that is much more fundamental.

Great leaps are being taken, both in electrifying the automotive drivetrain and in autonomous control systems. Autonomous vehicles can drive faster and closer together, meaning more cars can be on the road at the same time, easing congestion. AI is very much more predictable than humans, it doesn’t need to take breaks and it doesn’t get distracted. It may not be too long until we are told that humans are the weakest link in transportation systems and we are a danger behind the wheel.

Of course, there are a few hurdles to overcome before we get to that stage. The biggest one at the moment is range. EVs just don’t have the same type of range as internal combustion engine vehicles. Although most trips are relatively short, there is still a need for long journeys. The range on EVs has improved a lot, but it is still less than a full tank of fuel. EVs also take a lot longer to recharge than filling the tank with petrol or diesel, even with today’s superchargers. It’s been proven that the uptake of EV goes up in line with range, so getting every last mile is optimal for manufacturers.

Our special report this month focusses on the automotive industry’s challenges. Cars have traditionally used 12V batteries and are only currently switching to 48V. Many legacy systems have been designed for use with 12V supplies and don’t really need a full redesign. Our first article this month comes from Analog Devices. The article details how a traditional 12V battery can operate beside a newer 48V architecture to give the best of both worlds. The second article in the section is from Mouser. In the article, Mark Patrick takes a look at some new battery technology on the horizon and the benefits that they will bring for EVs.

Alongside the special report will be our usual range of features and general power articles. I hope you enjoy the issue.

Best Regards,

Ally Winning

European Editor, PSD