The venerable 12V electrical system is slowly being supplanted by higher-voltage architectures, especially in hybrids and electric cars. Some of those new systems operate at voltages as high as 450V and 600V, enabling the vehicles to run starter-generators, while minimizing the windings in the electric motors that drive the wheels.
Moreover, the new breed of higher-voltage architectures provides more power for the auto industry's growing list of electrical features, ranging from active chassis to heated windshields to electric air conditioners. Some offer in excess of 12 kW of power, compared to just 1.5 kW in today's conventional gas-burning cars.
Full hybrids and electric cars aren't the only recipients of high-voltage electrical systems, however. Some experts say we'll soon see 48V micro-hybrids, which will combine start-stop capabilities with regeneration systems that capture deceleration energy. The result: a fuel economy boost of about 15 percent or more.
We've collected photos of vehicles that have begun offering higher voltages over the past decade, along with pictures of some next-generation components. From micro-hybrids and electric cars to full-fledged hybrids, we present a collection of the most notable.
Click on the image below to start the slideshow.
In 2010, the Toyota Prius was bumped up from a max operating voltage of 500V to 650V. (Source: Toyota)
This articel sounds like the cubic inch battles of the 60s.(Watch the disney movie Dumbo from the 40s and watch the drunk clown scene.) Sunco was kept in business since the Covettes required the 260 blend . . . . I lost count of the volatge on thedifferent cars. This means that battery makers cannot standardize. I'd like discussion on the safety factor. I have hears or the Pintos w/ fork truck batteriies having a short and the entire car tourched in seconds from a short(wrench dropped). Are we going to wait until one death from these vehicle w/ no concern to isolate the power from the rest of the vehicle? With this much electrical power they may be the next vehicle of choise for terrorists. Just like bigger planes became bombs on 9-11. Less weight. Less power. More safety.
Essentially, Rob, you're asking how much more all-electric range can you get by employing a higher-voltage architecture? Higher-voltage architectures and higher-voltage batteries are in general better at capturing regenerative braking energy, which does get you some extra electric range. But putting a number on it is going to be tough. I'll try to get a rough estimate for you, but it will vary from vehicle to vehicle, since they have different electrical architectures. Great question.
The voltages noted in the article match the DC bus voltage one would find in an industrial Variable Frequency Drive. Using just the converter portion of such a drive would permit the use of regular 220V AC motors on the 300-360 voltages, and 460V AC motors for those in the 650V bus range.
Cap'n, this is an interesting trend. The 48V systems are an interesting bridge. As more functions are powered by electricity provided by batteries, the load on the engine is lessened. This allows smaller (more fuel efficient) engines to power the vehicle. Charging the batteries using regenerative braking captures energy that was unused before. Thanks for the article.
A recently released government report has raised the hopes of automakers looking for a break on future fuel economy regulations, despite the warnings of an Environmental Protection Agency official who said the agency is unlikely to back down on its goal of 54.5 mpg by 2025.
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