Electric Vehicles — In pursuit of efficiency

With increasing emphasis on reducing global warming and carbon footprints, governments, businesses and consumers are contributing towards energy efficiency. Initiatives such as the European energy efficiency directive have encouraged optimized generation and use of energy. Volatile fossil fuel prices, increasing energy demands and government led efforts to reduce emissions suggest that energy efficiency will be of increasing relevance in the years ahead. With this rise in energy and environment consciousness, alternative fuels, hybrid and electric vehicles are fast gaining adoption.

Evolving markets

The European Union is seeking efficiency improvements in the next five years that would be roughly double the gains made since 2010. This, along with volatile oil prices, puts pressure on automakers to sell more electric and hybrid vehicles.

Industry Response

However, despite commanding 25% of global car production, the European automotive industry owns only 3% of the world’s electric vehicle market and faces intense competition from Asia and North America as the stronghold of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles begins its slow decline. As engines, transmissions and exhausts representing one third of the value in automotive supply are swapped for electric motors and battery packs, the face of the power train market is changing

New challenges

Sources for energy efficiency

Of the 100% of electric power that an electric car is charged with :

  • 16% is lost in charging the battery
  • 16% is lost in the drivetrain
  • 2.5% is lost via steering, power train cooling and control systems
  • 0–4% is lost via various electrical, electronic and communication systems

This leaves 60 to 65% of the total electric power to actually power the car forward of which 33% is lost in braking- although with regenerative braking or KERS (Kinetic energy recovery system) 17% of that can be reused.

Innovation and measurement

Power trains typically need multi-channel DC and AC analysis along with physical parameters such as rotational speed, fuel injector pulse times and crank angles are measured from sensor signals, rotary encoders etc. Developing individual components in the early stages may only need waveform analysis at limited accuracies, but when a multi component subsystem or system is concerned, optimizing the system is favored over an individual component. Optimizing for efficiency in this ecosystem of components, systems and subsystems will take consistently reliable measurements.

Learn more about automotive testing and power measurements across the development cycle.

Marketer, Techie, Storyteller