Recent Advancements in Electric Vehicle Powertrain Design

The global electric vehicle market is on track to reach $912 billion USD by the end of 2026, and sales of electric vehicles in Canada have increased 66% a year over the last five years. The electric vehicle (EV) market is growing rapidly due to a variety of factors such as increasing fuel prices, climate change concerns and government policy that seeks to lower emissions to improve air quality. 

To meet this increased demand for electric vehicles, more companies and governments are investing heavily to advance this technology. An increased focus on extending battery range, boosting infrastructure, lowering costs, and providing more choices are paying off in the consumer market. Numerous technological developments and ongoing innovation are the underlying drivers in this field.

Consumer Interest in Electric Vehicles Increasing

Increased EV Charging Infrastructure

Increasingly unstable weather, such as severe snowstorms or destructive floods serve as evidence of global warming for some consumers. These changes in weather are a factor that is encouraging more people to consider buying electric vehicles. Municipalities and companies are installing more charging stations along commuter routes and in shopping centres, which helps to quell concerns about being caught off guard by a low battery. Rising prices at the gas pump also encourage individuals, municipalities or companies looking to control costs to make the switch to electric. These add up to a global electric powertrain market that is forecasted to reach US$568.6 billion by 2026.

Stricter Emissions Regulations 

Stricter government regulations regarding carbon dioxide emissions are accelerating the switch from fossil fuels and internal combustion engines. This can be seen in both the consumer market, and in companies who rely on fleets to serve their customers and get products to market. The regulations in countries such as the US, Japan, China and European Union countries mean increased demand for more EV options.

Greater Choice in EV Models

Vehicle manufacturers are responding as they develop more EV models across various price points. Ford plans to spend $11 billion by 2022 on the research and production of 40 new EVs comprising of 16 battery-powered and 24 hybrids or plug-in hybrids. This initiative will focus on creating electric versions of Ford’s most iconic models, such as the Mustang and F-150. 

Innovations in Electrical Automation for Consumer Drivetrains

As automakers look to make the switch, several companies producing electric powertrains are pushing the boundaries of possibility and affordability to new limits.

Gentherm Inc., a producer of climate control systems and thermal management solutions, has been working on a project to extend battery life and range while reducing costs. Focusing on cars using a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, Gentherm created a device that enables heating and cooling to improve performance. This innovation won the company an Automotive News 2019 PACE Award. First featured in the 2019 Mercedes-Benz S 560, the piezoelectric device enabled Daimler to reduce the size of the battery while also improving range and accelerating battery charging. Daimler is now adapting it for use in other models in its lineup. 

Image courtesy of Gentherm

Research and development in Tenneco’s powertrain division is another game-changer. The company’s PRiME 3D software is a dynamic simulation tool helps manufacturers cut engine development time by up to 70 percent, and when time equals money, that means increased affordability for consumers. The software helps car manufacturers refine the piston and piston ring design, which then reduces fuel consumption and emissions. The software can accurately show and predict performance and powertrain behaviour very early on in the design process, which saves time not just in refining designs, but in prototyping and physical testing.

EV Commercial Investments

Commercial vehicle supplier Meritor, has 22 prototype electrification programs with a number of global OEM’s. Their goal is to introduce a minimum of 130 electric commercial vehicles into the market by the end of 2020.

One of Meritor’s emission free-solutions includes their eCarrier system. This platform integrates an electric motor into the axle, which frees up space for batteries and other components. This core system enables various drivetrain configurations, including fully electric, hybrid, and single or tandem axles, for medium and heavy-duty commercial trucks. Of the 130 commercial vehicles scheduled for production, 60 of them have been partially funded by the California Air Resources Board whose goal is to reduce freight produced carbon emission levels.

Image courtesy of Meritor

Automation Innovation

In our current technological climate, it’s important for industry professionals to be able to speak knowledgeably about electric vehicle design and how EVs compare to internal combustion engines. Knowing where we’re going in this field and being able to utilize upcoming trends can provide an edge when planning for the future.

As electric vehicles become more common, Innovative Automation is keeping abreast of current trends and advancements. In partnerships with OEMs, our deep automation experience can provide valuable industry knowledge. Designing for automation is a major consideration in EV powertrain components and a trend that will grow over the next decade as increased demand leads to technological creativity.

If you need an innovative, knowledgeable and highly experienced team to design and build machines to automate your manufacturing processes, contact Innovative Automation.

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