- Silicon carbide power electronics for better efficiency and greater range
- Photo gallery: ZF develops 800 volt technology
Silicon carbide power electronics for better efficiency and greater range
Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron GT, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and more: More and more automobile manufacturers worldwide are implementing shorter charging times for electric cars with a battery voltage of 800 volts (instead of the usual 400 volts).
ZF develops and produces suitable components for this. Series use in Europe and China is now imminent, according to the supplier.
The focus is on power electronics based on silicon carbide instead of silicon as a semiconductor. ZF's technology is already being used in Formula E by the Mahindra team (our cover photo) and will be launched on the market in several vehicles in upscale segments in 2021, according to ZF.
"It is becoming apparent that the 800-volt architecture will establish itself in future premium vehicles or sports electric vehicles, whereas the 400-volt architecture will remain the standard in the volume market," says Bert Hellwig, who is responsible for the development of electric drives at ZF. "We have been supplying series technology for 400-volt applications for years, and we are now preparing the start of series production this year for 800-volt applications."
The 800-volt technology is intended to solve a fundamental problem with fast charging: If higher currents flow, thicker cables must be used or better cooled because more heat is generated. This increases the vehicle weight and the complexity of the charging infrastructure – unless the on-board network architecture is designed for higher performance from the outset.
The power electronics are also an essential component of the electric drive. It is already part of the ZF product portfolio for 400-volt architectures, and the Friedrichshafen-based company is now working on the start of series production for 800-volt cars. For "several models from a Chinese manufacturer", ZF is supplying the complete drive train including power electronics, for a European sports car manufacturer ZF is contributing the power electronics, according to ZF. Further series launches are already apparent.
More about silicon carbide and the 800-volt Ioniq 5 car: Magna introduces new electric drive and new plug-in hybrid system
Hyundai Ioniq 5 (2021): beautifully simple and surprising cockpit
ZF is using silicon carbide components for the first time in series production. In this way, the internal switching losses of the power electronics can be reduced. With electric driving and recuperation, the efficiency of the drive train increases – and with it the range. ZF silicon carbide power electronics are already used in Formula E. Experience from racing now flows into the development of the series cars.
Photo gallery: ZF develops 800 volt technology
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