How hev technology is shaping tier 2 automotive suppliers
How HEV technology is shaping Tier 2 automotive suppliersHybrid and Electric vehicles, by design, introduce many new electronic components intothe bill of materials and account for up to 30% of the vehicles total cost. Years ago,Toyota was the only manufacturer with a hybrid car in mass production, but Toyota’spolicy of integrating the supply chain into their own structure and utilizing only localfactories made it impossible to develop sub-suppliers specializing in these newcomponents. In 2011, all car manufacturers have one or several projects based on HEVtechnology. This requires the development of a complete supply chain focused on thesenew key elements for electric power. Toyota PriusBatteries, from the beginning, received the majority of attention and focus since theyrepresent the single largest cost in these new power trains. Alliances and joint ventureshave been created between car manufacturers and standard battery manufacturers withtargets of lowering costs, reducing weights and improving energy output. All batterymanufacturers are looking closely at the innovations, patent applications and movementsof their competitors. The companies who are quick to market with any advantages orimprovements in battery technology and performance will see greater profits - a very hardchallenge for an industry that has suffered from a lack of innovation for more than 20years.A full electric car has a bill of materials with an average of one third of the number ofcomponents than a gasoline or diesel powered automobile. The number of componentsrequired for the power train, by itself, is reduced to the battery, electric motor, charger andpower converter. The main costs and margins are now focused on the battery and theelectric motor set rather than in the internal combustion engine. Automobile are gettinginvolved in developing these key elements on their own as a key strategy to control andkeep in house these larger value-added components.
Plug-In Hybrid Power Train DesignTier 1 suppliers are looking for other elements in the powertrain to realize profits and theseinclude the power converters and battery chargers. These elements transfer the energy inthe powertrain from the battery to the motor, charge the battery and generate the lowvoltage power network to feed the car’s electronic systems (lights, entertainment system,heating, etc.). The basic technology used in these power converters is very well known as,in large part, the converters are switched mode power supplies with small form factors andhigh efficiencies. High efficiency power supplies have been developed for many years foruse in other markets including UPS systems, solar panel generators, wind power energyand industrial motor drives. Companies producing converters for these applications,including Eaton and Bosch, can become new Tier 1 suppliers for these HEV platforms.Their challenges will be in having to design and manufacture the converters for onboardinstallation and to be qualified for use in automobiles.In the same way, electronic Tier 1 suppliers for gas and diesel powered automobiles arealready transforming themselves to develop and manufacture power converters andbattery chargers. Lear, Valeo, Delphi and Continental are excellent examples of these Tier1 suppliers and each now have converters and battery chargers in their product portfoliosand many will be in new HEV cars to be launched in the coming years. Delphi DC/DC Converter Key electronic components used in these new HEV power assemblies arecommonly utilized in the industrial markets and include high power switchingsemiconductors, high energy capacitors and high power transformers and inductors. In theautomotive marketplace, electrical and mechanical constraints are dictated by the size and
volume available for the assembly, cost targets and required efficiency ratings.Component manufacturers (Tier 2) have to adapt their business models to meet thedemands of this new potential market. The heart of the component technology is alreadywell known and in use in industrial applications but the new requirements of HEV make itnecessary for a complete reinventing of these components. A high power planar transformer from PREMO Group Infineon and Semikron are two power management IC manufacturers who havefocused on the HEV market for the last four plus years. Both have launched automotivequalified semiconductors ready for integration into HEV converters and have dedicateddepartments to support car manufacturers and to develop R&D kits and application notesfor their MOSFETS/IGBT’s. Their target is clear: to make completely off-the-shelf partsavailable and to reduce the overall costs of their automotive customers. In addition to the active components used in the converter, there are many requiredpassive components that have been the focus of Tier 2 suppliers. One such classificationis inductive components including power transformers, power chokes, current sensors,EMI filters and auxiliary signal transformers. These types of components are commonlyused industrial applications but have never before installed in automobiles. PREMO is aTier 2 inductive component manufacturer that has experienced a major transformation intheir business model due to this evolution. Four years ago, Premo anticipated the futureneeds of the automobile market for these types of components. Over this four year period,Premo’s know-how, expertise and inductive components portfolio for industrial applicationshas led them to be able to deliver standard, agency-qualified solutions for automotivecustomers. PFC Choke Developed for Automotive ApplicationsOnboard battery chargers for plug-in vehicles introduce a new technology challenge forthese companies. The charger connects the automobile to the domestic power network,merging the requirements of the industrial world with the automotive world. The chargermust comply with all EMC requirements from these industrial standards while, at the same
time, fulfilling the lifespan, environmental, robustness and safety of automotive market.PREMO is the first Tier 2 component manufacturer to make available to the HEV market acomplete off-the-shelf EMC Filter for battery chargers with complete AECQ-200qualification. This filter is delivered in a single aluminum box with connectors, simplifyingthe assembly operation for the charger manufacturer. PREMO EMC Filter for Battery Chargers Opportunities are in the air. Even with the conservative numbers the automobilemanufacturers are predicting for HEV unit sales in future years, the component supplierswill need to initiate a complete conversion and re-tooling of their factories to reach thecapacity and output that will be required to support these programs. The production ofseveral hundred thousand EMC Filters of the type required for battery chargers is not asimple task and no manufacturer has ever built one previously with the productivity andautomation level required by the automotive market. This is a very big challenge forcomponent companies who may be used to having a high operator workforce for theirindustrial customers. Claudio Cañete Automotive Division Manager PREMO Group email@example.com