When will the electric vehicle market hit its tipping point? It could be as soon as in the next three or four years. All signs point to electrification in the automotive industry as more car manufacturers such as BMW, NIO, BAIC, General Motors, and Honda debut new electric vehicles in the coming years while new players such as Amazon-backed Rivian are making moves.
Consumer attitudes and adoption are shifting as manufacturers, industry partners, and governments address concerns around the environment, cost, performance, safety, and increasing the network of charging points of electric vehicles.
But there’s a lot of work to do. Currently, EVs are more ideal for drivers with short commutes that live in and around cities that have robust charging infrastructures. For mass adoption to take place, factors such as vehicle price, driving range, charging times, and charging infrastructure need to be addressed.
The good news is that major improvements are being made to extend driving range and efficiency, advance battery technology, and lower vehicle costs. One area automotive companies are continuing to design and invest in is Gallium Nitride (GaN) power semiconductors to increase the efficiency of their powertrains.
There are numerous benefits in efficient power conversion: increased energy efficiency, power density, and reduced weight to increase vehicle range. GaN is being designed in a wide range of automotive applications from onboard battery chargers (OBC), DC/DC converters, and traction inverters.
GaN Solutions and Applications
Solutions such as GaN Systems’ latest automotive-qualified 650V, 60A transistors surpass high performance and reliability requirements in the automotive industry. These new transistors meet AEC-Q101 and GaN Systems’ AutoQual+™ testing and qualification, an enhanced AEC-Q test sequence based on collaboration with global automotive partners.
In addition to solutions in the common 400V OBC, DC/DC, and traction inverter EV applications, GaN also provides value and increased performance in 800V EV traction inverters. Improving a traction inverter’s efficiency using GaN means longer range, fewer charging cycles, and extended battery life with the same battery cost, or the use of smaller, lower-cost batteries to achieve the same range.
GaN is exceptionally reliable and there’s no better place to test the endurance of a system than on a racetrack. Examples of GaN Systems’ performance in racing include Formula E and ETCR eMotorsport racing circuits. French power electronics company BrightLoop incorporates GaN Systems transistors in its family of DC/DC converters designed for the demanding environment of automotive racing. This innovative product family is half the size and weight of the company’s first-generation DC/DC converter developed without GaN.
As we approach the EV tipping point, GaN will be part of the evolution pushing the viability of these alternative vehicle technologies.