Why Sensors Hold Key to EV Efficiency

America is one of the dozens of countries around the world that are working to cut their carbon emissions. Transportation, which is responsible for 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions, is one of the first industries that will be significantly overhauled as part of global efforts to combat climate change. Zero-emission electric vehicles that are powered by lithium-ion battery packs are poised to play a significant role in the transition to green energy.

By replacing internal combustion engines (ICE) with rechargeable batteries, automakers can reduce their vehicles’ tailpipe emissions to zero. Even if the electricity used to power the electric cars isn’t entirely clean, EVs still have a smaller carbon footprint compared to conventional gas-powered vehicles. The average electric car currently has more than 100 individual sensors that work together with embedded systems and microcontrollers to measure wheel and motor speed, current, and voltage, and monitor component temperatures and pressures among other functions.

Equipping their EV models with a variety of sensors to collect data and provide them with feedback on the condition of a vehicle’s components has allowed carmakers such as Tesla, Ford and General Motors to reduce energy use and maximize the efficiency of their EVs. Efficiency is key to preserving energy and boosting vehicle range, something that could reduce range anxiety among consumers and encourage adoption. This could, in turn, reduce the number of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles on the road and advance America toward its electrification and carbon-emission goals.

Sensor technology will be crucial to improving electric vehicle efficiency. Sensors that are involved in interior climate control and the management of battery, motor and electric systems are especially crucial to minimizing energy consumption and maximizing efficiency. Thermal-management systems, for starters, are critical to ensuring lithium-ion battery packs perform as effectively as possible as well as maintaining their lifespans.

They do this by ensuring that temperatures within the EV battery cells remain in the optimal range of 15-45 ℃. If temperatures get out of this range, lithium-ion batteries become less effective because some of the lithium that could have been used to power the battery builds up outside the anode. As a result, the battery generates less energy for its host EV, ultimately limiting the vehicles. Sensors can prevent this build-up of lithium by constantly monitoring temperatures and keeping them in the optimum range.

Similarly, other kinds of sensors can maximize efficiency by keeping an eye out for potential errors and points of failure. As such, automakers could increase EV efficiency by focusing on sensor designs that espouse robustness, stability and accuracy.

The EV space is constantly evolving, and industry players such as Nikola Corporation (NASDAQ: NKLA) are likely tweaking the technology behind their offerings on a continual basis so that customers can experience reliable and cost-effective electric vehicles.

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