Enabling energy efficient heavy duty vehicles

Heavy duty commercial, construction and agricultural vehicles (CAVs) such as long-haul trucks, dump trucks, buses, harvesters, tracked vehicles and forklifts have to meet special requirements: Besides reliability, durability and profitability, they have to be eco-friendly and energy efficient. Although there are many more passenger vehicles on the roads, heavy duty vehicles such as trucks and buses account for around 27% of CO₂ emissions in road transport, representing around 6% of all CO₂ emissions in the EU.

Rising CO2 emissions and energy use are being driven primarily by greater economic activity and an increased demand for goods, which lead to more transport and delivery, and more trucking activity. The EU Council adopted the first European CO₂ emission standards for trucks and other heavy duty vehicles to counteract the rising CO2 emissions. Under the new rules, manufacturers will have to reduce CO₂ emissions from new trucks by an average of 15% by 2025 and 30% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels. That’s why beginning in 2025 at the latest, trucks on European roads will eventually become more and more eco-friendly.

Why the electrification of heavy duty vehicles is an urgent topic

The combination of rising emissions and the urgent need for action to protect the climate are the main reasons why the electrification of CAVs has become a pressing topic for manufacturers and users in recent years. They are increasingly switching to electric drivetrains to comply with the latest emission and energy regulations. Electrification is also proceeding rapidly among commercial trucks operating in urban environments, especially those belonging to large, coordinated fleets and logistics services. In the meantime, many global logistics companies have pledged to expand their electric fleets through retrofits or outright purchases. In Europe, the transformation is just now gaining momentum: In 2019 the number of registered battery and plug-in electric trucks more than doubled year-on-year. And this is certainly only the beginning: For 2030, European truck makers estimate that around 200,000 zero-emission trucks – including e-trucks (BEV) and fuel cell trucks (FCEV) – will be needed to meet CO2 targets for heavy duty trucks.

Powertrain inverter and auxiliary applications are the key

With electrification as a positive option, the technologies required span all electrical and electronic disciplines including motors and drives, power and computing as well as sensing and communications. The complexity of a CAV is usually much higher than that of a private passenger car due to the number of sensors, actuators, microcontrollers and memories as well as features such as blind-spot monitoring. From a semiconductor perspective, the electrification of heavy duty vehicles mainly covers solutions in the field of powertrain inverters and auxiliary drive applications for machines such as balers, saws, mowers, rotating brushes and harvesters. In all-electric drive trains, electric machines controlled by power electronic inverters are replacing mechanical components, making heavy duty vehicles more energy-efficient and more reliable. Together with safety and robustness, these are the defining design factors for buses, trucks, and agricultural vehicles as they continue to establish themselves as zero-emission alternatives to today’s fossil-fuel transport. One example: IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors) switching devices are built specifically to deal with extreme thermal cycling, transient voltage spikes from load-dumps and mechanical stress due to vibration.

Application page: Commercial, construction and agricultural vehicles

Optimized energy efficiency with new technologies like Silicon Carbide

Infineon’s semiconductors make it possible to comply with the latest emissions and energy regulations in electric drivetrains. For example, on board of a truck they help optimize switching in electric drivetrains and support the driver with sensing, computing and actuating applications. They offer electronic-based and fuel-saving solutions and enable efficient battery charging. The new Silicon Carbide (SiC) devices are another upcoming technology for power switches to be considered for electrified CAV applications. Providing headline specifications similar to those of IGBTs, SiC devices can switch at much higher frequencies, making it possible to use smaller passive components and filters. Even when switching at lower frequencies, SiC devices can reduce the sum of losses by up to 80% compared to IGBTs. The Infineon 1200 V CoolSiC™ range is one example, with both modules and discrete parts available.

Application page: Hybrid and electric solutions for trucks and agricultural vehicles

Deeper insight: Whitepaper, Podcast4Engineers

Semiconductor solutions for numerous applications on board

Infineon power solutions enable efficient energy use in commercial, construction and agricultural vehicles such as harvesters, tractors, buses, trucks and mining vehicles. That’s why Infineon offers solutions across an extremely wide variety of applications. In trucks, for example, these mainly include the electric drivetrain and auxiliary power supplies, but also on-board chargers and wireless power, DC-DC converters, electric pumps and compressors.

Other relevant applications using Infineon semiconductors include the battery-management system, security features such as brake vehicle stability control and “Steer-by-wire – Brake-by-wire”, as well as radar and camera applications. To cover the full spectrum of CAV electrification applications, Infineon’s products comprise everything from Si IGBT and CoolSiC™ MOSFETs and power modules such as EconoDUAL™ and HybridPACK™ Drive to complementary gate drivers, microcontrollers and sensors. The most prominent of Infineon’s IGBTs are the cost-efficient EconoDUALTM 3 half-bridges, rated at up to 900 A and 1700 V.

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