GKN Automotive has launched a new generation of its inverter for electric cars compatible with the 800V technology. The British multinational ensures that this new inverter offers a 20% increase in output power compared to the previous version, increases the specific energy by 50% and reduces the amount of copper needed by 63%. This machine is part of the eDrive platform that GKN has developed thanks to its partnership with Jaguar Racing in the Formula E electric racing series.
GKN supplies complete drive systems for the automotive, metalworking and aerospace industries. It leads the market for components for conventional all-wheel drive vehicles and is also a pioneer in the manufacture of drive axles and electric motors. In 2030, it predicts that they will circulate 110 million vehiclesof which 20% will be pure electric vehicles and 10% plug-in hybrids.
In this context, the company is committed to a new generation of eDrive systems based on the technology of 800 volts which is currently already on the market under the bodywork of premium cars, such as the Porsche Taycan, but which will gradually become more widespread, as shown by the arrival on the market of the IONIQ 5 and the Kia EV6. Implementing an 800V system allows manufacturers to deliver more power to the motor, and also to the battery in the recharging process.
As part of this eDrive platform, this new inverter also compatible with existing 400V systems, although BGKN Automotive forecasts that the majority of electric cars will use this technology in 2025. In addition to 20% increase in power outputthe energy density is increased by 50%, the power-to-weight ratio increases by 60% and the copper content is reduced by 63%, as indicated by the manufacturer.
As part of this eDrive platform, GKN is developing its new electric motors, which will be available from 2024. These new engines will also be based on the 800 volt technology. Thanks to them, the capacity of the batteries will increase. Engineers are working to make these batteries smaller and lighter. Accompanied by an 800-volt system, the recharging times that will be used will be much shorter than the current ones, reaching reasonable values even for electric cars aimed at the mass market.
The alternating current that feeds the synchronous electric motors is produced by the inverter, which is responsible for taking the direct current from the battery and converting it into alternating current and supplying it to the motor. The frequency of the alternating current determines the speed at which the motor rotates. This device uses high-level power electronics, capable of providing the voltage and amperage required by the motor at all times. The more robust the inverter, the more efficient and reliable an electric vehicle will be.
Christoph Gillen, Director of Systems Engineering at GKN says that the performance offered by the new inverter “is the next step in our mission to drive a cleaner and more sustainable world, as we have been able to greatly increase performance and improve efficiency. We believe that the future of electric vehicle technology lies in 800V architectures.”
800 volt systems will allow sufficient autonomies (above 350 kilometers at motorway speed) and reasonable recharging times (200 kilometers in 20 minutes) and will help to demystify two of the great handicaps that electric cars currently have to be a purchase option for users.
With these characteristics and supported by a future ultra-fast charging network that also has this technology, the next generation of electric cars will allow long-distance travel without autonomy or waiting times for recharging implying an unaffordable compromise.