Browse Publications Technical Papers 2002-21-0033
2002-10-21

Electronics as the Cornerstone of Future Fuel-efficient and Clean Vehicles 2002-21-0033

In this paper we present three main principles for commercially viable hybrid-electric vehicles: 1) using ICEs only near maximum thermodynamic efficiency, 2) using a high voltage electric power subsystem for reduced losses, 3) using only existing automobile materials and processes for low cost.
One implementation of these principles is presented in a popular American SUV using our Hyperdrive hybrid-electric powertrain. We will show that driving performance can be enhanced while towing capacity, climbing capacity, and top speed can be preserved without compromise. Fuel economy can be improved by over 50% and regulated emissions can be reduced to near background level. All components of the system are analyzed and it is shown that a 300 V based electric subsystem is materially inferior to the 800 V system in fuel economy, driving performance and cost.
In discussing components, we substantiate the case for using a lead-acid battery system. We also show that the main enabler for a commercially viable HEVs is a high voltage power semiconductor.
In summary, it is electronics – power semiconductors, inverters, batteries, electric motors, and computer controllers with sophisticated software – that is the cornerstone of future powertrain technology for fuel-efficient, clean, and economical automobiles.

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