WATTs dis­rupt au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try

Auto components India - - CONTENTS - By: San­jay Gupta, Vice Pres­i­dent and In­dia Coun­try Man­ager, NXP Semi­con­duc­tors

The face of au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try is chang­ing and be­hind all the talks of robo-cars, elec­tric ve­hi­cles, and in­creased car con­nec­tiv­ity, car man­u­fac­tur­ers are fo­cus­ing on serv­ing cus­tomers’ shift­ing pref­er­ences and more in­tri­cate sus­tain­able tech­no­log­i­cal needs. Ad­di­tion­ally, mul­ti­ple other forces are brew­ing dis­rup­tion for the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try and paving the way for ve­hi­cle elec­tri­fi­ca­tion. As the world hooks to the de­bate on whether these de­car­bonized rides are the fu­ture of mo­bil­ity in­dus­try, NXP is en­abling this shift and ac­cel­er­at­ing the de­vel­op­ment of next-gen elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and com­bus­tion sys­tems.

For more than 50 years, the in­ter­nal com­bus­tion (IC) en­gine has been pow­er­ing bil­lions of ve­hi­cles with­out any mar­ket dis­rup­tion. While there have been ad­vance­ments in fuel ef­fi­ciency and per­for­mance, noth­ing much has re­ally changed in the way it pow­ers an au­to­mo­bile. Elec­tric cars are dis­rupt­ing the heart and soul of the au­to­mo­tive.

On one side, the in­creas­ing reg­u­la­tory pres­sure is forc­ing gov­ern­ments across the world to re­duce car­bon emis­sions from ve­hi­cles over time. Re­cently, China, the world’s largest au­to­mo­tive mar­ket pledged to ban fos­sil fuel-pow­ered ve­hi­cles. And they are not fight­ing this bat­tle alone. The Euro­pean Union is driv­ing a manda­tory lower tar­get for emis­sions in 2020. Nor­way aims at sell­ing only zero-emis­sion ve­hi­cles by 2025, while the Nether­lands wants 50% of cars sold to be EVs by 2025. In­dia too is push­ing to sell only elec­tric cars by 2030. As new emis­sion reg­u­la­tions po­si­tion elec­tric car de­vel­op­ment as a pri­or­ity, car­mak­ers are work­ing their way to add modern elec­tric com­po­nents to the pow­er­train and meet the grow­ing num­ber of elec­tric ve­hi­cle man­dates around the world.

Ad­di­tion­ally, life­style fac­tors, such as car­mak­ers of­fer­ing de­sir­able elec­tric ve­hi­cles that trade on the value of their im­age, are lur­ing cus­tomers to switch from tra­di­tional in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines to al­ter­na­tive fuel en­gines, low emis­sion or zero emis­sions pow­ered ve­hi­cles.

How­ever, this de­vel­op­ment comes with a hand­ful of in­ter­est­ing chal­lenges. The au­to­mo­tive de­sign cy­cle for elec­tric or hy­brid ve­hi­cles dif­fers sig­nif­i­cantly from those of in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines. Com­pared to the com­bus­tion en­gine, which is a pre­dom­i­nantly me­chan­i­cal ma­chine us­ing elec­tronic com­po­nents to en­hance its ef­fi­ciency, the elec­tri­fied en­gine is straight­for­ward. It uses an elec­tric mo­tor, quite sim­i­lar to house­hold ap­pli­ances, with a bat­tery to pro­vide power. The hy­brid pow­er­train on the other hand, is more com­plex as it com­bines the com­plex­i­ties of a me­chan­i­cal mo­tor with an elec­tric mo­tor.

This com­bi­na­tion of reg­u­la­tory and mar­ket in­di­ca­tors along with long au­to­mo­tive de­vel­op­ment cy­cles makes it im­per­a­tive for au­tomak­ers to be­gin the de­vel­op­ment of hy­brid and elec­tric ve­hi­cle sys­tems now — be­fore the next wave of pro­ces­sors for elec­tri­fi­ca­tion are avail­able. It also gives rise to the big­ger chal­lenge fac­ing car­mak­ers to­day – how do they tap the grow­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and quickly de­sign the next gen­er­a­tion elec­tri­fi­ca­tion sys­tems?

This is where NXP comes in. Through the use of com­po­nents, such as the GreenBox de­vel­op­ment plat­form, NXP is pro­vid­ing a sim­ple,

out-of-the-box de­vel­op­ment path for next-gen­er­a­tion hy­brid and fully-elec­tric ve­hi­cles, to both tra­di­tional au­tomak­ers and new mar­ket en­trants.

So how do car­mak­ers use GreenBox? When a hy­brid or elec­tric car is mov­ing, it draws enor­mous data, in­clud­ing dis­tance, driv­ing con­di­tions, weather and to­pog­ra­phy. Con­trol al­go­rithms then ag­gre­gate these con­di­tions and de­ter­mine when to tog­gle be­tween com­bus­tion and elec­tric in hy­brid mod­els, be­side mak­ing so­phis­ti­cated en­ergy de­ci­sions. An elec­tric car also needs to de­cide on about when to charge based on this data. GreenBox de­vel­op­ment plat­form helps in de­vel­op­ing these con­trol al­go­rithms and test them in a real user en­vi­ron­ment be­fore the fi­nal sil­i­con is avail­able.

While we pace rapidly to roll out hy­brid and elec­tric ve­hi­cles, an­other fun­da­men­tal chal­lenge stands be­fore au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try. Con­sid­er­ing the in­creased role of elec­tron­ics in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try, it is no more the me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer-led in­dus­try it once was and there is a need for a new va­ri­ety of elec­tronic and soft­ware en­gi­neers – ones who pos­sess the ca­pa­bil­i­ties to de­sign these com­plex ve­hi­cles.

This brings us to the growth po­ten­tial of the var­i­ous elec­tric sys­tem com­po­nents that con­sti­tute a ve­hi­cle. The elec­tric pow­er­train and ev­ery­thing linked to it has enor­mous growth po­ten­tial. As elec­tric ve­hi­cles are more straight­for­ward to build, en­try bar­ri­ers to the mar­ket are lower. This cre­ates a ripe area for new car man­u­fac­tur­ers and start-ups to emerge with fresh and bold ideas that fo­cus specif­i­cally on elec­tric ve­hi­cles and trans­form the tra­di­tional ap­proaches. In con­trast, the mar­ket presents tra­di­tional car­mak­ers a unique op­por­tu­nity to bridge the gap be­tween the past and the fu­ture with hy­brid ve­hi­cles.

Yet the key thriv­ing in this de­vel­op­ing mar­ket is ef­fi­ciently con­trol­ling the power in elec­tri­fied sys­tems. Au­tomak­ers can achieve this only when they bring to­gether var­ied key pieces, in­clud­ing zero de­fects au­to­mo­tive qual­ity, the age-old prin­ci­ples of func­tional safety and high-vol­ume pro­duc­tion and se­cu­rity. Ad­di­tion­ally, au­tomak­ers will also have to tap on big, in­no­va­tive ideas, such as cou­pling very high com­pute power mi­cro­con­trollers with ded­i­cated pe­riph­er­als to con­trol, for ex­am­ple, the Lithium-Ion bat­tery packs.

An­other rather new as­pect that au­tomak­ers are now touch­ing upon is con­nec­tiv­ity with elec­tri­fi­ca­tion. Au­to­mated cars with elec­tri­cal driv­e­trains are now re­plac­ing the pre­vi­ously used pow­er­trains, which were stand-alone sys­tems with­out any con­nec­tion to the out­side world. These next-gen­er­a­tion au­to­mated cars are ad­dress­ing the driv­ers’ needs to be con­nected and feel safe on the road. Keep­ing this in mind, car­mak­ers are mo­bi­liz­ing them­selves to in­clude ex­ter­nal data, such as op­ti­mum route to­wards the planned des­ti­na­tion and sen­sor data from the sur­round­ings of the car, all of which op­ti­mize the ve­hi­cle’s bat­tery range to help purge the range anx­i­ety of driv­ers.

While the elec­tric ve­hi­cle mar­ket will surely con­tinue to trans­form and fling new chal­lenges at au­tomak­ers, the key to rise in these chang­ing times is re­al­iz­ing that the in­dus­try will see more changes in the next ten years than what it saw in the last 50-years. Ad­di­tion­ally, au­tomak­ers will have to be more flex­i­ble and re­spond to the fastchang­ing mar­ket dy­nam­ics with the right elec­tri­fi­ca­tion strate­gies to stay rel­e­vant.

San­jay Gupta, Vice Pres­i­dent and In­dia Coun­try Man­ager, NXP Semi­con­duc­tors

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