eMobility is picking up speed

The market for electric vehicles continues to grow in importance. Hybrid vehicles with combined internal combustion engine and electric drive can already be found throughout towns and cities, primarily as hybrid cars and buses. This is because hybrid technology is a particularly effective way of lowering fuel consumption and pollution. Developments in vehicle batteries continues to make even purely electric cars more attractive. In contrast, electric drives have been standard technology for industrial trucks, such as forklift trucks, for some time.

Electrically operated auxiliary gear on tractor

Electronics gets you moving

Today, power systems are just as common in vehicles such as fork trucks and hybrid and electric cars as they are in agricultural and construction vehicles. As well as powering the drive, power electronics also play an important role in other areas. One example of this is the power supply for electric auxiliary equipment, e.g. pumps, cable winches or sowing equipment on tractors.

Forklift with electric drive and lifting action

Years of experience in electromobility

SEMIKRON has many years of experience in electric vehicle drives and provides this market with IGBT modules, IPMs and systems in the power range of 5 kW to 250 kW. Back in the late 1990s, the company was producing traction motor controller power electronics for the first hybrid vehicles, and for the last 20 years SEMIKRON has been one of the most important suppliers to industrial truck manufacturers. Today, there are 400,000 electric fork trucks operating in tough environmental conditions, such as vibration and changes in load and climate, thanks to SEMIKRON semiconductors. And you can add 6,000 hybrid buses, with a fuel saving of 30 per cent, to that figure.

IGBT motor controller system SKAI 2 for use in vehicles

Power electronics is the heart of the drive

The power electronics regulates the speed and torque of electric drive motors, and as such is the heart of the vehicle drive. They even help to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions of auxiliary drives, such as fans and air conditioning systems.

Last not least, electrification also allows for innovative functions – such as the electric motor supporting the internal combustion engine to provide power surges (boost mode), or cleaning the cooling system by reversing the fan motor.

Key components of future electromobility

Power electronics is a key technology. It turns a future where mobility is based on vehicles with hybrid or fully electric drives into a reality. Important considerations here include high power densities, small dimensions and optimum reliability over a very broad temperature range. As well as the potential fossil fuel savings resulting from road vehicles with hybrid or fully electric drives, state-of-the-art power semiconductors also bring about significant fuel savings in conventional motor vehicles. This results from electrified ancillary units such as steering, oil and water pumps, and air conditioning compressors, where savings of up to 15 per cent are possible. And state-of-the-art LED driving lights with electronic controls use just 50 per cent of the energy of halogen headlights.