Monday, January 25, 2010

Electronics for energy efficient powertrain

Early this month, an Auto Expo was held in New Delhi, the capital of India, organized by CII, SIAM and ACMA with the support of the Government of India. The ISA ExCITE was part of the Auto Expo, a seven-day exhibition with a one-day conference – where, the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) organized a one-day conference on smart and green automobiles.

The Auto Expo is the premium event for auto sector in India with global participants.

Session 1 of the conference focused on electronics for energy efficient powertrain.

Environmental concerns and driver comforts are major factors for deciding on next generation automotive power-train electronics. Most countries are championing cleaner and greener automobiles. Today's high-end ECUs (Electronic Control Units) are combining these demands to create efficient engine management systems that would be driving tomorrow's people's cars.

In his presentation, Praveen Acharya, vice president, Semicon Solutions, KPIT Cummins Infosystems Ltd, said that powertrain was both complex and critical. Highlighting the automotive/ECU market, he added that while this market had matured in Japan, USA and Europe, big growth was likely in BRICs.

He highlighted some industry challenges for powertrain and electronics, which include:
* Meeting stringent emission controls globally.
* Fuel efficiencies across fuel variety (gasoline, diesel, EV, hybrids).
* ECU reductions in bill of materials and cost.
* MCU features, and performance and reliability.
* Development cycle time for new generation MCU/ECUs.
* Reduction in number of MCUs for powertrain and platform based approach.

Dr. A. Zahir, vice president, Bosch, discussed sustainable individual mobility. He focused on the reduction of CO2 emissions as well as technologies to support CO2-reductive comportment.

He highlighted some measures to manage vehicle energy. These include: combustion engine optimization, demand-responsive energy management, stop/start, hybrid, electric vehicles, components optimization, and waste heat recovery.

Dr. Zahir said global warming and population were rising. Hence, there was a strong increase of urbanization and energy hunger in the emerging countries. All of these challenge sustainable individual mobility.

Sustainable individual mobility can be achieved by reducing CO2 emissions and by increasing fuel economy. With a system approach based on enabling technologies from the Bosch portfolio, there is an enormous potential to reduce the CO2 emissions and increase fuel economy.

All of the required functionalities require cost effective electronics running complex control algorithms and diagnostics. The proliferation of smart and highly integrated.semiconductors will continue to accelerate in the automotive domain.

Suraj Mukundrajan, director Automotive Development, Infineon Technologies India Pvt Ltd, touched upon how semiconductors can enable fuel efficiency.

He highlighted certain global CO2 targets, wherein, the European Union (EU) proposes steep fines to cut car CO2 from 2012. For cars – 120gCO2/km by 2012 +10 g coming from biofuels. Now, the law is: 35mpg CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) by 2020 for cars.

Mukundrajan advised that emission reduction could be achieved by optimizing different areas in a car. The full spectrum of semiconductor technologies would be required to achieve energy efficiency in automotive electronics Less fuel consumption and cleaner engines will happen due to better performing MCUs.

He also highlighted the advantages of automotive hybridization. For instance, plug-in hybrid saves 40 percent to 60 percent energy compared to conventional combustion engines.

Already, the 2013 annual production will likely rise to over 3 million vehicles, which is about ten times the production of 2005 with 335.000 hybrid cars. Further, the semiconductor content in hybrid cars is much higher -- $525-$900 as compared to conventional combustion engine cars -- $225-$300.

Mukundrajan added that the CO2 target must be achieved. Although, the customer did not clearly realize the value today, the required technologies do exist. However, they are not included in the drive cycle in a huge manner, at least not yet!

Sandip Sarkar, head - Electrical Systems, Controls & Software Engineering, General Motors - Technical Center India, highlighted the huge opportunity for smart and green automobiles. While there was 70 million sales in 2007, in 2016, it is likely to touch 95 million in sales.

According to him, the automotive DNA of the future would include: electrically driven automobiles, energized by electricity and hydrogen, powered by electric motors, controlled electronically and 'connected.'

Sarkar highlighted the sustainability benefits as well. These include:
* Lower mass and smaller size vehicles.
* Reduced battery, hydrogen storage and power costs.
* Predictable routing, network-wide traffic management, reduced travel times, real-time congestion pricing.

The vision is to have electrically driven vehicles in the future – equipped with sensors, V2V, GPS, digital maps, electronic controls and actuators, etc. This will enhance roadway safety, besides providing real-time traffic management. Smart intersections would be part of the roadway of the future. All of these together, will enhance energy efficiency and reduced emissions.

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