Semiconductor players are constantly innovating in the growing EV & HEV segment. Analog Devices, an innovation powerhouse has been a leading player in this domain. EV & HEV, being a still evolving segment, Analog Devices has been studying closely on the developments of this sector and has been offering leading solutions and products complementing the market need. For the 4W segment, ADI is already a leader with a number of products meeting different channel count requirements of the OEMs. Kantheti Srinivas | Product Line Director | Analog Devices India in an e-interaction with Niloy from BISinfotech underlines how ADI continues to provide excellent support to the customers to support their engineering teams meet the required product features and performance in the shortest possible time. Edited Nub Below.
Q. What are the challenges and scopes does HEVs inculcate for Semiconductor players?
EVs are a fast going category of vehicles often called NEVs. BEVs are full battery powered electrical vehicles charged by electricity and run out of battery. A second category of vehicles are called PHEV (Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicles). These are often vehicles that have some level of battery to enable the car to run on clean energy (battery) – mostly in city but also has ICE to switch to for long distance drives thus reducing the range anxiety. The third category is MHEV/HEV where there is a 48V battery pack that provides boost to the vehicle’s acceleration thus saving the fuel under various conditions like city traffic conditions or giving boost to the vehicle on the freeways through an electric motor thus saving fuel consumption in these conditions.
These are great opportunities to meet the CO2 emission targets for the OEMs at various parts of the world but they also pose challenges. Battery costs are a big challenge for every EV manufacturer. BEVs are the most expensive while HEV and MHEV are the cheaper solutions. They in turn drive different battery architectures and that is an opportunity for the semi-conductor players to solve the complex battery measurement and communications problems. The HEVs require a high level of integration at attractive cost points while the BEVs need high level of measurement accuracy and robust communications. Both the types of vehicles need safety mechanisms to detect a battery fire early on and also ensure very robust working of the battery management IC. HEVs also open up opportunities for the Tier-1s and semiconductor with a lot of software that is functionally safe in the form of drivers, processing of data, algorithms to estimate state of charge etc.
In addition to the battery, semiconductor players find opportunities in power train and switches that is applicable only in EVs. The Power Train system will have a microcontroller that acts as a motor controller and also controls the switches. The switches and the drivers for the switches with the microcontroller presents excellent opportunity for semiconductor players. Last but not least is the power supply ICs (DC-DC and switching mode regulators) that are all over the place powering a number of components that top up semiconductor contributions in EVs.
Hence all in all, EVs present a large and exciting opportunity to semiconductor players from Battery Management systems to power trains to power supply components etc.
Q. What are the key strategies of ADI to be a strong player in the Indian EV and Hybrid EV sector?
India is a very unique market where the number of 2W and 3W is more than the number of cars. India sells around 20Mn 2W per year, the largest market in the world. They are cost and quality consciousness at the same time. On the other hand India sells around 4Mn calls per year and is the 5th largest market in the world. While a number of car makers have launched EVs in the recent past, the uptick of the car EVs will take some time due to the cost associated and the socio economic spread of Indian population. On the other hand 2W will see a faster adoption of EVs in India due to more comparable price points compared to their ICE counter parts. This is proven by the fact that all major OEMs have launched Electric 2W in India. In addition, there are a number of start ups focusing on developing 2W in India.
To address this fast going 2W market in India, ADI is developing solutions for the customers involving HW and SW so the 2W OEMs and T1s are immensely benefited from this and reduces their time to design, develop, test and market. ADI will also be focusing on developing products that are tailor made for this market into the future as the market grows further. For the 4W segment, ADI is already a leader with a number of products meeting different channel count requirements of the OEMs. ADI continues to provide excellent support to the customers in a number of ways to support their engineering teams meet the required product features and performance in the shortest possible time.
Q. BMS is a key component for HEVs, what are your offerings and portfolio for this segment?
BMS is a very important component of EVs and HEVs are no exception. LTC has a decade plus years of experience in the HV BMS IC and systems development that carried forward to ADI with the acquisition. With this ADI has a number of products with various channel counts, safety features and systems features to offer to the customers. ADI is also investing heavily to develop new and advanced technology products to radically innovate customer systems in the areas of battery cell monitoring, pack monitoring and communications. All these offerings are integrated and ADI provides reference designs and solutions that are worth of production by customers both in terms of HW and SW.
Q. HEVs are almost soundless when moving, hence how does ADI look into this matter to keep pedestrians and roads safe?
ADI not only focused on battery but the latest innovation is understanding user experiences and improve safety of drivers and also pedestrians. One such innovation is the Electric Vehicle Warning Sound System. New regulations now mandate a sound produced by EVs when driven at low speeds so the pedestrians are aware of an approaching vehicle. This requires skills across signal processing, software, digital signal processor programming etc. ADI has developed a solution using its Blackfin processor and developed SW algorithms to demonstrate this innovation. This is just one of the many other innovations ADI developed to keep pedestrians and roads safe.
Q. How do you foresee the Indian EV/HEV market?
The India 2W EV market will certainly grow as it is very attractive for consumer. A recent estimate showed that the cost of owning an EV 2W is approximately half of owning the corresponding ICE vehicle. This makes it attractive to a number of prospective buyers of 2W. The congested city traffic is also prompting a number of middle aged citizens to switch to 2W in the cities. The range anxiety normally associated with EVs is also nullified with 2W EVs. The falling battery prices also contribute to larger adoption in this segment. In the case of 4W, the adoption rate might be slower than the 2W but the adoption of HEVs and MHEVs could see an uptick to improve the fuel efficiency and mitigate the rising fuel costs.
Q. Power semiconductors to play a pivotal role in HEVs, ADI’s offerings and focus?
High Voltage is a key technology needed in EVs as the batteries operate at very high voltages (ranging from 200V to 800V). ADI has decade+ years of experience developing HV electronics and deliver quality and reliable products. This is a key attribute needed for OEMs and T1s to ensure their end customer satisfaction. In addition ADI is also building a number of new innovative products with higher levels of integration, channel counts, communication and safety features.