Nidec, Renesas to Jointly Develop EV E-Axle X-in-1 System
The companies have teamed up to develop reliable and high-performance EV solutions.
As electric vehicles (EVs) become more sophisticated a performant, they also become more complex. To minimize this complexity, EV designers have increased design integration – fusing multiple components and subsystems into single units. By doing this, designs are simplified while still providing increasingly high performance levels.
Electric car. Image used courtesy of Pixabay
One area in particular that has seen an increase in integration is the E-Axle. Nidec and Renesas will join forces to develop highly-integrated E-Axle EV systems. Here, we’ll look at the E-Axle and the companies’ plans for new solutions.
What Is an E-Axle?
To maximize performance while keeping complexity to a minimum, a growing trend in the EV industry has been the emergence of the E-Axle system.
An E-Axle is an advanced technology employed in EVs with traction motors to provide power and propulsion to the wheels. Unlike conventional drivetrain solutions, which feature the inverter, electronics, and gearbox separately, an E-Axle integrates these components into a single unit mounted directly on the vehicle’s axle.
The structure of an E-Axle. Image used courtesy of Nidec
By integrating the inverter, gearbox, and motor into a single unit, E-Axles unlock several advantages for electric vehicles.
One of the key advantages is that E-Axles unlock greater energy efficiency for EVs. Not only are units more efficient due to tighter integration with one another, but by eliminating the need for a mechanical transmission system in conventional vehicles, E-Axles can significantly reduce the power losses associated with gear shifting. The result here is that EVs equipped with E-Axles can optimize power delivery, maximizing the range and performance of the vehicle.
Additionally, the compact design of E-Axles results in space-saving advantages for EVs. By integrating multiple components into a single unit, E-Axles not only reduce the EV’s physical footprint but eliminate the need for complex mechanical linkages associated with traditional drivetrains. This simplification allows for more flexible vehicle design options, enabling manufacturers to optimize interior space (such as increasing battery capacity) and overall vehicle packaging. Reducing weight and mechanical complexity also translates into improved vehicle efficiency and range.
Nidec Corporation and Renesas Electronics announced that they’d be engaging in the joint development of semiconductor solutions for a next-generation E-Axle.
The E-Axle system is called the X-in-1 system and will integrate an EV drive motor with the power electronics for the electric vehicle into one unit. Nidec, who has already produced 150 kW, 3900 Nm E-Axles, will supply the partnership with motor expertise, while Renesas, a leader in semiconductor solutions, will work on the power electronics.
The group will develop a proof of concept for the X-in-1 system – a 6-in-1 system based on silicon-carbide (SiC) power electronics – by the end of 2023, which includes a battery management system, a DC-DC converter, OBC, and a power distribution unit.
The companies hope to develop a second proof of concept based on gallium-nitride (GaN) power electronics to further improve efficiency, size, and cost.