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800V systems in EVs enable longer ranges, faster charging

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Electric vehicles (EVs) featuring 800V electrical systems could achieve much faster charging and reduced weight, allowing them to travel further between charges.

Some automakers are already starting to embrace this technology. For instance, Porsche fitted an 800V system in their full-electric Taycan sports car, which was launched last year. The automaker claims that the model can travel up to 420km between charges.

Such systems enable greatly reduced charging times, as long as they are using fast chargers capable of working at up to 270kW.

“If the charger provides 800V and a minimum of 300A, the Taycan can charge from five to 80 per cent in 22.5 minutes. 400V chargers typically provide 50kW only. The same charging capacity would need 90 minutes,” said Otmar Bitsche, director of e-mobility at Porsche.

800V systems also allow a greater retention of power; a higher voltage allows a lower current to be used when charging the battery, which reduces overheating and allows better power retention. This contributes towards a greater driving range.

It also allows for weight reduction, as less copper is needed in the electric system. Electric motors are much simpler than combustion engines in construction and at their core they have a rotor, which is driven by a changing magnetic field. To induce this field, electrical systems often use up to four times the amount of copper found in combustion engines; higher voltages reduces the need for large amounts of copper. This permits smaller motors, freeing space in the vehicle for batteries.

Professor Peter Wells, of Cardiff University’s Centre for Automotive Industry Research, said: “As is usually the case with “premium” technology options in the automotive industry, we can expect a rapid transfer to the mass market arising from competitive pressures. In some cases, manufacturers have designed-in the ability to migrate from 400 volt to 800 volts as costs fall and as competitiveness comes to require such systems.”

“The reduced weight of 800V systems will further help with increased range and acceleration performance or allow for larger battery packs with even greater range.”

Many firms are ramping up production on electric vehicles as countries around the world introduce legislation to eventually ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles. Earlier this week, Ford committed to shifting its entire range of passenger vehicles over to electric by 2030 in its European market.

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