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Structure of electronic system of electric vehicle

Technology Cover
Post Date: 2024-05-24, Acme Electric/Amveco/Actown

The electric vehicle (EV) represents the frontier of sustainable mobility. EVs integrate a complex and sophisticated  electronic architecture,  and technology is taking giant strides every day with the discovery of new semiconductor materials and solutions. In  this article,  the most important components and their interconnections that enable the operation of electric vehicles will be  explored.


The adoption of electric vehicles is growing steadily, and all sectors of the supply chain are also changing. It covers raw materials, chemicals used to make components for electric vehicles, batteries and various components. At the same time, car charging infrastructure is also in the mix, and they are going through a historic phase where they are undergoing a complete redesign. Their electrification, coupled with government regulations, poses challenges for the design and software development of new automotive networks. The electronic system architecture is the structured configuration of all electronic components, modules and networks within the vehicle and defines their electrical and electronic composition. In particular, electronic hardware, network communication systems, software and the wiring of all circuits are integrated to enhance control over all aspects of the vehicle's functions.

An electric car is not just a vehicle with an electric motor;  Instead,  it is equipped with highly sophisticated peripherals and sophisticated electronics that enable several types of  applications. An electric vehicle is a complex technological system that operates on a physical, chemical,  electrical and electronic basis. It is equipped with a self-powered battery,  with various circuits specifically designed to perform different functions.

A good architecture must consider the power  and information requirements of all the electrical equipment operating in the vehicle. If the purely mechanical aspects  are broadly similar to a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle, such as the wheels or frame,  the electrical part is rather distant and contains many newly designed differences. They relate to battery systems for  traction, electric motors, power regulation circuits, and battery systems for battery charging. As shown in Figure 1,  the basic configuration of an electric vehicle consists of one or more batteries, an energy converter,  an electric motor, a transmission unit, and a differential system that controls the wheels.


There are also more efficient systems that have no differential and are propelled by two motors,  one for each drive wheel. In this case, two separate conversion systems are required,  although only one battery can be powered. With the advancement of technology in recent years,  new architectures have improved the efficiency and connectivity of the system,  also integrating communication protocols such as CAN, LIN, Flex Ray, and Ethernet. Today,  with the increasing use of electronic components in cars,  a well-designed architecture is necessary to improve reliability and safety while driving and to increase efficiency by  reducing energy consumption,  weight and cost (see Figure 2).

Thanks to improved connectivity strategies and the use of fast local gateways,  the new electric vehicles are configurable and intelligent. At present, due to the availability of new,  extremely complex integrated circuits and electronic solutions,  it is possible to build new applications that were previously unthinkable and only possible with new electronic  components.

 Electric cars are not all equal; Instead, they follow different types of designs. The key feature, however, is the allocation of a certain percentage of electrical energy to the propulsion system. Some vehicles are powered solely by electricity, while others combine it with other forms of energy, which is defined as "hybrid." In general, the former utilizes propulsion energy provided entirely by a power source such as a battery or fuel cell. The latter uses a variety of propulsion energy sources, at least one of which is electricity.

Electric vehicles are designed primarily to achieve their autonomy, maximizing speed and acceleration. As can be seen from the figure above, the electric traction system is composed of several functional modules: the motor works with the power converter and is connected by wiring. The circuit is connected to an energy storage system assisted by an external power supply charging system. Traction is controlled by several devices. Of course, there is a necessary auxiliary liquid cooling system to maintain the system at a safe thermal level.


The battery and the BMS

One of the basic components of an electric vehicle is the battery, which, along with performance optimization circuits, makes up the vehicle's propellant. The battery stores electrical energy to power the engine and all other components of the vehicle. Currently, lithium-ion batteries are the dominant technology, providing a positive balance between energy density, durability, and weight. With such power, it is necessary to implement complex safety systems that provide protection under extreme thermal conditions, replenish electrolytes for the inevitable fuses, ventilate for gas leaks, and balance the charge, since the individual elements of the battery often have different potentials during charging and discharging, leading to imbalance problems. These components are managed by a control and supervision system, BMS(Battery Management System), which regulates charge and discharge commands, as well as heat and power controls, always guaranteeing maximum efficiency.

It can be said that the BMS serves as the brain of the electric vehicle, constantly monitoring all electronic systems,  battery, engine, power, and auxiliary devices,  ensuring the safe and optimal operation of the vehicle. Figure 3 shows a 48 V 2.4 kWh lithium battery from PYLONTECH along with an inverter. It requires the presence of a BMS for its correct functioning. The wiring between the electronic  components must also be carefully designed. The vast power levels involved imply meticulous planning,  especially on the cable sections which certainly affect the weight and dimensions of the system. Long-term sales  estimates for new electric vehicles are promising, with an expected growth of a few dozen percent in the coming years,  as the entire sector aims to drastically reduce carbon across all activities.


The electric motor

The electric motor (see Figure 4) converts electrical energy into mechanical energy,  moving the vehicle’s wheels. There are different types,  such as asynchronous induction motors and permanent magnet motors,  each with its strengths and weaknesses. The choice of the engine depends on various factors such as performance,  efficiency, and costs. In an electric car,  the motor is generally located near the wheels and is powered by a bank of rechargeable batteries. When the accelerator  pedal is pressed,  the electric motor draws energy from the battery pack and transmits motion to the wheels. It is characterized by instant  and constant driving torque, for very smooth and silent acceleration. Normally,  the electric motor consists of a rotor, the rotating part, and a stator, the fixed part.


At the heart of electric motors, there is power electronics,  which plays a crucial role in energy management. It converts the battery voltage to levels suitable for the engine via  DC-DC and DC-AC devices. The latest research is aimed at recovering energy from physical events,  such as the recovery of braking energy. During braking, kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy,  which is then stored in the battery. This process slightly increases the vehicle’s range. All the components of an  electric vehicle do not operate in isolation but continuously communicate and exchange data and information through  communication networks. This new concept allows for real-time data exchange on the status of the system,  activation of intelligent control strategies on all parts of the vehicle,  and coordination of the collective operation of the different components.


One of the first things you notice on an electric car is the quietness of the system, which not only helps to reduce air pollution levels, but also noise pollution. The architecture of electronic systems for electric vehicles is of course a very complex area, as there are many components at play. It mainly focuses on taking into account the entire supply chain, from the production of raw materials to the charging of the user's battery, with as little environmental impact as possible. The electronic systems of electric vehicles continue to evolve, and related innovations will also involve autonomous driving and driver assistance, with the help of artificial intelligence, to improve safety and comfort. The perfect design of outstanding buildings is critical to the development and future evolution of this revolutionary technology.

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