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  • Raghav Sand

Automotive Innovation: The Future is Electrifying

The automobile sector has been at the forefront of innovation in the past several decades. It has been a constant endeavour of people and organizations in the automotive world to make life safer, faster and more convenient. There is one important feature for which the sector stands out: sharing technology and learnings. On various instances, companies have shared the know-how with their competitors; it meant that safety and comfort of commuters were valued more than corporate profits.

Mobility in the modern world is not a luxury, but a basic necessity. Even after the advent of video conferencing and mass transit options, the feeling of being at a place in person has its own benefits. Leisure and everyday commute have become a part of present-day life and lifestyle. Incomes have been steadily rising throughout the world and owning a car is one of the cherished dreams and comes second only to owning a home.

Technology is not only about telecommunications, e-commerce or social media, but it is everywhere around us; the automotive sector has led this revolution and some of the advancements have trickled down to other industries. The employment opportunities that have come up from this sector, both directly and indirectly, makes it one of the biggest industries across the planet. Presently, the automotive industry is on the cusp of a generational leap and it is nothing short of a revolution.

Concern for the environment from pollution caused due to emissions from the internal combustion engine (ICE) has compelled governmental agencies take note. Climate change has the potential to cause more widespread damage than a pandemic. Vehicular emission is not the only cause of degradation in air quality, but it is the most visible and easy to blame. Developed countries are now starting to frame timelines for a switchover to non-ICE vehicles, while many countries are rolling out subsidies for electric vehicles (EV).

Chart Courtesy: Our World in Data

How Does an Electric Vehicle Work?

EVs have an electric motor instead of an ICE. The vehicle uses a large traction battery pack to power the electric motor and must be plugged in to a wall outlet or charging equipment. Although electricity production may contribute to air pollution, environmental agencies categorize all-electric vehicles as zero-emission vehicles because they produce no direct exhaust or tailpipe emissions.

Key Components of an Electric Vehicle

Battery (all-electric auxiliary): In an electric drive vehicle, the auxiliary battery provides electricity to power vehicle accessories.

Charge port: The charge port allows the vehicle to connect to an external power supply in order to charge the traction battery pack.

DC/DC converter: This device converts higher-voltage DC power from the traction battery pack to the lower-voltage DC power needed to run vehicle accessories and recharge the auxiliary battery.

Key Components of an all Electric Vehicle

Electric traction motor: Using power from the traction battery pack, this motor drives the vehicle’s wheels. Some vehicles use motor generators that perform both the drive and regeneration functions.

Onboard charger: Takes the incoming AC electricity supplied via the charge port and converts it to DC power for charging the traction battery. It also communicates with the charging equipment and monitors battery characteristics such as voltage, current, temperature, and state of charge while charging the pack.

Power electronics controller: This unit manages the flow of electrical energy delivered by the traction battery, controlling the speed of the electric traction motor and the torque it produces.

Thermal system (cooling): This system maintains a proper operating temperature range of the engine, electric motor, power electronics, and other components.

Traction battery pack: Stores electricity for use by the electric traction motor.

Transmission (electric): The transmission transfers mechanical power from the electric traction motor to drive the wheels.

How Different is a Hybrid Vehicle from an EV?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) use batteries to power an electric motor and another fuel, such as gasoline, to power an ICE. PHEV batteries can be charged using a wall outlet or charging equipment, by the ICE, or through regenerative braking. The vehicle typically runs on electric power until the battery is nearly depleted, and then the car automatically switches over to use the ICE.

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