A few years ago, the automobile industry agreed to adopt standards for a new voltage for the production and use of electrical power. The perception was near universal that 14 Volts was at the limits of its capability, and that 42 Volts would be adopted in a rush. The universal perception was wrong. Since then, much of the auto industry has encountered hard financial times. In a totally separate development, parts suppliers introduced innovations at 14 Volts, some of which a few years ago were thought to require 42 Volts. Today, there are 42-Volt cars and trucks for sale, but only at numbers far lower than necessary to begin to achieve economies of scale. But the factor which caused the industry to develop the 42 Volt standard, the growth of electricity use on motor vehicles, continues with no sign of letup. Further, the true technical obstacles to adoption of 42 Volts have been discovered and at least provisionally solved. The way forward to cost-effective solutions for advanced automobiles is clearer today than it was in the past.
Thomas A. Keim
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Convergence International Congress & Exposition On Transportation Electronics