Panasonic to Start Production of EV Driving System in 2018

Panasonic Corp developed the “ePowertrain Platform” driving system (electric power train) for electric vehicles (EVs) and exhibited it at CES 2018.

It consists of “Power Supply System Part” and “Driving Part” (motor). The Power Supply System Part consists of an (1) in-vehicle charger (AC-DC converter), (2) DC-DC converter, (3) inverter for driving the motor and (4) junction box that distributes power and controls power paths at the time of driving/regeneration.

The new driving system is expected to be used for compact EVs called “commuter” and mild-hydrid vehicles (MHEVs) using a 48V system. The output of the motor is several kilowatts.

The Power Supply System Part can support not only Panasonic’s motors but also various motors. The company plans to start production of the Power Supply System Part in 2018.

For EVs, Panasonic has developed batteries, in-vehicle chargers, film capacitors, DC-DC converters, etc so far. But this is the first time that the company has commercialized a “system” integrating multiple components. Also, in the past, it exhibited prototyped inverter modules.

The ePowertrain Platform has two major features. First, its size and weight can be reduced by eliminating wiring, etc, compared with a system made by combining discrete components. Compared with the previous product, for which Panasonic combined discrete components, the new system has about 50% less volume and about 30% less weight. Also, the company improved efficiency from 86% to 91%.

Second, the expandability of the system was improved. By using an in-vehicle charger, DC-DC converter, inverter, junction box and motor as “Integrated Unit,” “Expansion Unit” consisting of an inverter and motor is added in accordance with the output required by an EV to which the system is applied.

For example, an electric motorbike uses one unit of the Integrated Unit, and a four-wheeled compact EV uses one unit of the Integrated Unit and three units of the Expansion Unit.

Panasonic also started the development of a next-generation product, which is even smaller and lighter in weight than the new system, aiming to commercialize it in 2020-2025. For the next-generation product, the company aims to halve the volume while slightly increasing output.

For size reduction, Panasonic plans to reduce the sizes of passive components by increasing the switching frequencies of charger, DC-DC converter, etc as well as to increase motor rotation speed. The rotation speed of the new system’s motor is higher than 10,000rpm, and its torque is several tens of newton meters, Panasonic said.

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