Author: Qiong Sun, Global Vice President, Automotive E-mobility
Electric vehicles are no longer a niche option for early adopters — they’re the future of mobility. EVs are already one of the fastest-growing segments in the automobile market, with worldwide sales doubling in 2021. That rapid growth rate is likely to continue as governments and auto manufacturers set ambitious targets to have EVs make up 40%, 50%, or even 100% of new car sales within the next 10 to 15 years.
The basic technology of electric vehicles has already proven itself. Now, the innovations powering the EV revolution are more nuanced, focusing on reducing costs and increasing manufacturing efficiency while continuing to advance performance. Priorities include shortening charging times and improving battery and motor capabilities to meet drivers' needs for torque, speed, range, and reliability. These challenges require an understanding of a vehicle's electrical architecture to optimize the movement of electrons from the charging station to the battery pack and from battery into the motor, as well as for every other electrical system.
TE Connectivity has spent more than two decades collaborating with automotive manufacturers to create electrical components uniquely suited for the demands of the evolving EV market. While each manufacturer's EV designs are unique, we've developed an approach that allows us to deliver customized EV solutions where needed, while still pursuing the industry-wide goals for higher performance and lower costs to help the EV market reach its full potential.
Shorter charging times are a key enabler for wider EV adoption, inspiring the development of high-voltage, high-current charging infrastructure. TE's engineers have launched a high-performance charging inlet capable of carrying 350 kilowatts of electricity at 500 amps. We are now working on an ultra-high-power DC charging inlet capable of delivering 640-kilowatt power, which will charge a battery for a 200-mile drive in about 10 minutes. Faster, safer charging means drivers need to spend less time waiting at the charging station.
The challenge for EV designers is ensuring that their vehicles can handle the challenges of ultrafast charging. Every component — from the charging inlet to the connectors, wiring, and battery contactors — must be designed to manage the higher temperatures that come with high-voltage fast charging. Each EV manufacturer has its preferred techniques for tackling thermal management, so TE offers components for passive and active cooling systems that include fluid based cooling and sophisticated temperature monitoring technologies.
The demand for high-speed charging also increases the likelihood of wear and tear on charging inlets — especially when using public charging stations that are more exposed to salt, dirt, and other abrasives. The degradation of electrical terminals can lead to reduced energy transfer efficiency, resulting in longer charging times. In response, TE's engineers have been focused on an often overlooked piece of the EV charging equation: metallic plating technology.
TE's new TENDUR surface plating technology for EV charging inlets uses an innovative combination of silver and graphite, delivering strong electrical conductivity performance with lubrication from its embedded graphite particles. This state-of-the-art contact plating provides superior abrasion resistance and delivers continuous high-performance charging throughout the vehicle's lifetime. TENDUR can withstand up to 50,000 charging cycles without losing performance — five times the 10,000-cycle lifespan of a standard charging inlet with traditional coatings.
Battery performance is critical factor in the wider adoption of EVs. Vehicle owners want to maximize their travel distance between charges and ensure that their batteries last as long as possible before needing replacement. Delivering on those requirements calls for another level of innovation that’s mostly hidden from drivers.
Battery longevity depends on several subsystems and components within the vehicle. To support a longer lifespan, a battery must safely switch on and off during normal vehicle operational modes and be protected against abnormal conditions that can damage it. TE's high-voltage contactors are an essential piece of this safety system, providing a way to switch between batteries or shut the battery down entirely in the case of a short circuit or excessive current load. In addition, pairing these contactors with low-resistance terminations to avoid power losses and a battery management system to prevent the battery pack from overheating can help keep batteries operational for the vehicle's life.
Thank you, we have received your subscription.
Please review errors above
For legal reasons we need to ask you for your consent with this by clicking the box to the left.
As EV manufacturers race to develop more powerful, efficient vehicles, they must remain focused on another major consideration for EV drivers: Environmental sustainability. Concerns over water and energy consumption and the extensive use of metals in the EV manufacturing process are putting pressure on manufacturers to think holistically about the sustainability of the EV industry.
TE is playing its part in this effort with innovations such as our GreenSilver contact surface technology for high-voltage EV connectors. By selectively applying silver to limited areas of the connection surface, GreenSilver uses less precious metal than traditional connectors, while still delivering the same electrical performance and enhanced vibration and heat tolerance needed for EV powertrains. In addition, the proprietary, non-galvanic dry plating process does not use any hazardous materials and achieves a 35% reduction in CO2 emissions and a 99% reduction in freshwater consumption during production.
Growing demand for EVs also means manufacturers don't have time to waste bringing new models to market. Developing everything from luxury vehicles to trucks and entry-level models can call for small adjustments within the electrical architecture. That's why TE designs our electric mobility solutions as a platform that allows for customization where needed within the same standard design template, speeding up the development process. We also offer product simulation technology that lets customers virtually test and evaluate potential products under different conditions, helping confirm that designs will be efficient and reliable before they're put into production.
Maintaining this pace of innovation is essential for the EV industry to reach a mass-market scale. TE is committed to helping manufacturers deliver the advancements in performance, efficiency, and reliability needed to fully realize the age of the electric vehicle.
Qiong Sun is the global vice president of TE’s Automotive E-mobility business, where she oversees the product portfolio, technology strategy, and future solutions for automotive E-mobility. Prior to joining TE, Qiong was vice president of the global electrification business unit at Lear Corporation, responsible for product development and program launches as well as technical and growth strategies for the business. She has nearly 30 years of transportation experience and a diverse industry consulting background specialized in vehicle electrification, energy storage and active safety.
Executive Insights: More stories on tech innovation
The March Toward Commercial Fleet Electrification
In this Executive Insight, learn how the latest trends in transportation electrification are driving the transition to electric vehicles and transforming the market. Hear how TE helps OEMs develop modular and scalable designs for electrifying commercial vehicles.