With government’s push in building India to be an all-EV nation by 2030, many auto and tech companies are working towards it. The government believes that 1.3 billion Indians using private transportation will have disastrous consequences on the economy and environment and hence wants to pivot towards clean energy and public transportation. The opening up of the EV market is a great opportunity for semiconductor manufacturers. TI accelerates innovation for electric vehicles and EV charging stations with its comprehensive portfolio of embedded processors and analog technologies.
In the interview with Mr. Jayanth Rangaraju, End Equipment Manager, Texas Instruments (TI) India discusses EV adoption in India, its market, challenges and TI innovations for EV industry.
What are the key imaginations for EV adoption globally?
Electric cars hit a new record in 2016 with over 750 thousands sales worldwide. We are getting ready for another record setting year in 2017 with 764 thousands in sales until September and the number expected to surpass 1 million units in sales by the time we close for this year. The leader of the pack is China which by far has the largest EV market with more than 40% of the electric cars sold in the work where US accounts for the next 20% and then closely followed by Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, France and UK. As the number of electric cars on the road increase we start to see growth in privately and publicly available EV charging infrastructure. In spite of all this growth, the global electric car stock corresponds to about 0.2% of the total passenger cars in the world with lot of room to grow prior to making a dent to deployment of traditional fossil fuel cars.
According to you what are the key requirements to make EV a real vision?
Everyone loves the idea of Electric cars, they are silent, non-polluting and offer good performance but there do exist a few hurdles that have slowed down their adoption as a mainstream transportation option. Firstly, higher prices of the EV technology have been a deterrent in the past. Newer battery technology is making EV more and more practical but we are still not in par with the affordability of the traditional fossil fuel cars. Secondly, the time to charge a vehicle with 100km battery range can run into 10 to 12 hours. In the recent years we have seen strides in power electronics technology that have started to reduce the charging time down to less than an hour. And thirdly, the lack of a reliable EV charging network to charge your car batteries en-route to your destination. More and more government as well as private-public partnership initiatives are being kicked off to build this EV charging infrastructure network.
Please elaborate on the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles?
When it comes to EV charging infrastructure, there are mainly two types of charging systems, AC and DC charging systems. An AC charger powers the battery through car’s on-board charger, while a DC charger directly charges the car’s battery. AC charging stations, which are further characterized into Level-1 (typically a residential charger) uses commonly available 120VAC/230VAC power sources and draws current in the order of a 12A to 16A range, and a level 2 EVSE (typically used in commercial spaces, such as malls, offices, etc.) uses poly-phase 240VAC sources to power a more robust vehicle charger and draws anywhere between 15A to 80A to completely charge a 24kWH battery in about eight hours. DC charging station on the other hand supply high-voltage (300V-750V) DC at up to 400A directly to the vehicle’s battery. In this case, the on-board charger on the EV is bypassed and directly fed to battery management systems. The charging time for a typical 24kWH battery is less than 30 minutes.
Discuss on the developing technology behind charging stations for EV?
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) requires a power electronic system between the power grid and the high voltage battery pack located inside the car. This electronic system is split into two parts: a charging station which is also often called charging station or electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) or off-board charger and an on-board charger (OBC) in the vehicle. A charging station (off-board) is part of the grid infrastructure and is increasingly seen along a street, parking lot or in a home’s garage. Its primary purpose is to supply the power to a PHEV for charging the battery inside the vehicle. An on-board charger is located inside the vehicle and is responsible for the final stage of charging the battery pack. It takes the AC/DC power source from the EVSE and transforms the power into the required battery charging profile. While AC power from an off-board AC Charger has to be power conditioned (converted to HVDC) by the on-board charger prior to supplying to the Battery Management System (BMS), the off-board DC Charger works independent of the on-board charger and directly talks to the BMS.
How Wi-FI technology will play a smart role in charging EV?
Wi-Fi connectivity will allow for remote monitoring and control of the charging of EV from just about anywhere. Adding remote monitoring and control capabilities to EVSE can help alleviate the inconvenience caused to EV owners from extended charging times associated with AC Charging stations. For example, being able to remotely monitor and reserve a slot with EVSEs in the office parking lot, or at a public charging station in a mall or a highway can eliminate the uncertainty associated with finding an EV charger at your next stop. Automatic text message when an EV charging is complete can ensure that the user makes space for the next user without added delay. Being able to automate the charging times & conditions for your EV when it’s plugged in at home would allow for EV to be charged during off peak hours when the grid tariff is lower.
How will TI technology help the EVs to charge in just 30 minutes?
The fast charge (in 30 minutes or less) is primarily driven by DC Charing Stations (Level 3 Chargers) that bypasses the On-Board Charger on the EV and directly talks to the Battery management system on the EV. The three-phase AC from the grid is conditioned by a power-factor-correction (PFC) circuit. The AC is rectified by active metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) rectifiers into a high-voltage DC of about 400 V. This voltage passes to a DC/DC converter made up of power FETs or insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) that generate the correct DC level of about 400 VDC for charging the battery. TI’s isolated and non-isolated gate drivers can be used to drive these MOSFET/IGBTs with high precision. TI’s amplifiers, ADC, hall or fluxgate sensors can be used to build voltage and current sense circuitry. TI’s one or more MCUs (like TI’s C2000™ MCU series) manage the monitoring and control, AC/DC and DC/DC power-conversion processes. The ARM® based Sitara™ processor can provide advanced HMI and point-of-sale and billing capabilities in conjunction with MSP microcontrollers with capacitive touch-sensing technology. TI MCUs can also enable power line communication (PLC) and CAN interfaces so the EC Charger has a high-speed communication link to the vehicle.
Can electric cars disrupt the car market?
Like discussed earlier, we are getting ready for another record setting year with the number of EVs expected to surpass 1 million units in sales by the time we close for this year. With the existing global electric car stock at about 0.2% of the total passenger cars we are yet to see the impact from these zero emission cars. The leading indicators for this market indicate a positive sign for this market expansion. Battery technology has shown continuous signs of improvements – we now have denser, more reliable and lower cost batteries that we did a year back. Power electronics is aiding development of fast charger technology that can accelerate charging to 100+ kilometers in less than half hour. Over the last year large government bodies & private-public partnership groups have announced plans to build a reliable charging station network. Given all these leading indicators, EVs are starting to get faster, safer, convenient and cheaper. If this trend is to continue, we expect electric car stock to range between 9 million and 20 million by 2020 and between 40 million and 70 million by 2025. At these volumes & scale we can definitely expect them to make an impact to the oil supply & demand economics and thus disrupt the traditional fossil fuel dominated car market.
What is the future outlook of EV growth in India?
The current EV market in India is still in its infancy. There certainly are plenty of reasons for India to consider the shift from fossil fuel cars to EVs, for example the air quality levels in all major cities in India are at alarming levels and automotive pollution has been a leading contributor to this condition. India is one of the biggest importers of fossil fuel; EVs could help reduce this dependency on foreign fossil fuel sources. Noise pollution is at its worst level in most major cities and EV could help reduce the impact from automotive sources. Shifting to EVs can help India reduce its carbon footprint and help it meet its CO2 emission goals as set by Paris Agreement.
While the current government is tinkering with an extremely ambitious plan aimed at electrifying all vehicles in the country by 2032 a lot needs to be done before we can start considering this as even a partially viable plan. Government and private-public partnerships must come up with plans to incentivize the shift from traditional fossil fuel cars to EVs by for example offering tax credits or zero down-payment purchase plans. To accelerate EV adoptions it is important to further bring down the cost of battery production, either by local manufacturing or by tax free imports. Private-public partnerships must come up with plans to provide an infrastructure for charging EVs that is currently absent even in urban India. While the stakes are high, so is the opportunity that lies ahead of us to make this shift a reality in India.