This post was originally published in July 2020 and has had several updates since then.
One of the automotive industry’s greatest hopes for the future is the electric vehicle. As more and more electric vehicles hit the road, the benefits add up: less dependence on fossil fuels; fewer greenhouse gas emissions; overall greener and more economical travel. Electrifying transportation isn’t as simple as just flipping a switch, however. Designing an electric vehicle is a complex process that differs greatly from designing a traditional vehicle. The engineers who were developing internal combustion engines had about a century to make the technology work perfectly, but the engineers who are working on the electrification only have a decade to design an electric vehicle that can match or exceed the performance of a traditional vehicle. Electric vehicle engineers must integrate both, the battery along with the electric drive, into the vehicle.
The electric drive is a complicated system whose parts need to work together effectively and efficiently. These include the gear box and electric machine, which need to be designed carefully to avoid over-designing. Over-designing leads to excess material, weight and cost and system engineering helps to precise and balance targets like maximum torque, power and speed, in the context of the whole vehicle.
The design must fulfill requirements for performance, efficiency, thermal, noise and vibration, etc. It is key to include multi-disciplinary design explorations and optimizations in order to reduce the required time of the development cycle. Once the many components of the electric drive have been implemented, their performance must be verified against the targets defined by Model-Based Systems Engineering, or MBSE.
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