ZF Offers 800 Volt Components for Electric Vehicles
An increasing number of automotive manufacturers worldwide are responding to the requirement for faster charging times for battery
An increasing number of automotive manufacturers worldwide are responding to the requirement for faster charging times for battery electric vehicles with the introduction of modified on-board power system architectures: In the electric premium and sports car segments especially, high-voltage vehicle power supplies are now being designed for 800 volts rather than the current 400 volt systems. ZF reinforces this design trend with the development and production of corresponding components for the electric driveline. At the core is power electronics using silicon carbide as a semiconductor. ZF has already seen this technology applied in the Formula E racing series.
Charging time plays an important role in the user-friendliness of electric vehicles. If electric cars are to become sustainable over longer distances, the battery must be capable of reaching almost fully charged capacity within an hour. A fundamental problem of quick charging is heat generation from higher currents. This requires cable design to be thicker or cooled. Incorporating this into 400-volt architectures creates disadvantages in terms of vehicle weight and the complexity of the charging infrastructure. The solution is a vehicle power supply architecture that has been designed for higher performance from the outset. For this reason, many automotive manufacturers are planning future vehicles with higher, 800-volt systems.
An essential component of the electric driveline is the power electronics, whose main task is to convert the different types of electrical energy. Power electronics for 400-volt architectures have long been part of the ZF volume production product portfolio but the company also supplies new core technology for drives with increased voltage.
For the first time in premium vehicle production, ZF is using new chip technology: Instead of silicon transistors, silicon carbide components are used, reducing internal switching losses in power electronics. As power electronics have a very high energy throughput during electric driving and recuperation, the efficiency of the entire electric driveline increases – with a positive effect on the range. ZF first used silicon carbide power electronics in Formula E, the experience and insights gained from this application will be continuously incorporated into wider volume production development.