TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.—Demand can only grow for hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric vehicles and the components to operate, manage and recharge them—but that growth means new technology challenges, said Scott Adams, Eaton Corp. senior vice president for product management and sales and eMobility.
One challenge facing the industry is that recharging and operating systems for electrified vehicles are trending strongly toward higher voltage, Adams told Automotive News. That's partly for faster recharging times and partly for higher driving performance.
The 2004 Toyota Prius had a 202-volt battery, for example, while newer systems are much more powerful.
"Now, we're talking 400-, 800-, even in the future 900-volt systems," Adams said ahead of speaking July 31 at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars.
That creates challenges in terms of safety, heat management, reliability and performance in harsh environments.
"There are complications that come with higher voltage," he said. "We're looking at what the near-term needs of the industry are. There's a lot of activity in EVs, but it's still nascent. It's still early."
Eaton restructured its high-tech automotive electronics and related fields into a single reporting segment called eMobility. Some other major suppliers have restructured along similar lines or spun off those businesses. Several auto makers also have set up similar, dedicated teams.
In June, Eaton announced it will invest at least $500 million into the eMobility segment by 2023.
Down the road, the returns are expected to be enormous. Eaton projects its portfolio of electrified components, systems and services would account for annual revenue of $2 billion to $4 billion by 2030, from an estimated $300 million for 2018. That includes commercial applications as well as passenger vehicles.
Adams is the lone supplier representative on a panel discussing "Electrification Strategy: Batteries, Motors, and Cars," scheduled for July 31 afternoon.
Other panelists were Andrew Lund, chief engineer in the Product Development Office at Toyota Motor North America; Chris Reed, vice president for platform and technology engineering at Nissan North America; and Matt Renna, vice president of e-Mobility for Volkswagen Group of America.