These 3 Components Are Critical to Electric Vehicles

The popularity of electric vehicles is soaring. Which tech components are critical to the function of these high-tech machines?


Published March 4, 2021 - 6 Min Read

Tesla, Nio, insert electric vehicle (EV) seller here. EVs are, to the dismay of many motorheads, the future of automotive transportation. And with the recent automotive chip shortages, EVs have been thrust even further into the limelight.

As EV demand continues to grow, it's important to take note of the components that are critical to their functions.

Microcontrollers

Ever wonder how that new EV is able to brake and maneuver without the driver needing to intervene? It's all powered by radar technologies provided by tiny, 40nm microcontroller chips—like the Renesas RH850/VR1-M.

The 32-bit single-chip microcontroller offers multiple CPUs, along with many communication interfaces designed for automotive applications. The radar function for the chip incorporates additional RAM with a DSP toolkit and offers a high-speed differential interface.

RH850 MCUs are also used in EVs for motor control and integrate large flash memory for faster readout, lower power consumption, and larger storage capacity. These 40nm chips are also critical to safety functions and fine-grained motor control.

But what about the availability of the part or its compliance and obsolescence risks? As automotive tech continues to intertwine with consumer tech, chip supply and demand becomes further obscured and difficult to predict.

Using Z2Data's Part Risk Manager, we can take a deeper dive into some microcontrollers used for automotive applications.

Let's look at the RH850: it is a newer tech and was first introduced in 2017.

While its lifecycle cannot be determined currently, companies can see that it has a high multi-sourcing risk, according to the database. This high risk means it's difficult for this part to be crossed to other suppliers.

The Part Risk Manager also displays compliance information, where companies can easily view whether or not this microcontroller is compliant with regulations such as REACH.

Another critical component used in the automotive industry is the CY8C4124PVE-S422T from Cypress. This chip is commonly used in proximity sensing applications.

Z2Data creates part scorecards for every part in its database—the higher the score the better the part.

This particular part has a low risk for multi-sourcing, and this is due to Cypress having over 50 drop-in replacements for the microcontroller. This information is essential during part shortages, when a company may be in need of a replacement for a scarce chip.

Battery Management

Batteries are essential to electric vehicles, and the chips that manage the batteries can make or break the battery's effectiveness. Texas Instruments produces a battery management component that helps protect the battery from overcharge, over-discharge, or overheating.

The BQ76PL536APAPR accomplishes these automotive applications by bringing Li-ion cells back to balance. By protecting the battery and managing its charge and temperature, this component extends the life of the battery.

But where is this part made?

With the comprehensive database from Z2Data, we can evaluate the manufacturing information and location of over 1 billion parts. 

The database shows where the manufacturing site is located, displays the supplier's information, and even provides a supplier score (the higher the better, 0-100) that takes into account a supplier's financials, reputation, and reliability.

And if we're worried about this specific supplier, we can switch to the Supplier Insights tool and search the supplier to see in-depth information.

All of this information is aggregated into the supplier scorecard and can be used by companies to evaluate potential and current suppliers.

Main Inverter

The range of an EV is directly related to the efficiency of its primary inverter. IGBTs are key components used in inverters and the most efficient IGBTs better conserve heat, leading to less power loss. This reduction of power loss leads to improved mileage.

One example of an IGBT critical to EVs is Infineon's F4-75R07W1H3. The part was first introduced in 2013, which is a little old for automotive standards. Because of this, come EV makers may be concerned with the lifecycle status of the component.

Using Z2Data's lifecycle forecast system inside of the Part Risk Manager, companies can view an accessible diagram outlining the lifecycle of a particular part.

For this IGBT, EV makers can expect an end of life (EOL) in 2026. Having this information on hand allows procurement teams and component engineers to find alternative, newer tech before the predicted EOL in 2026.

How Z2Data Can Help Assess Critical Components

Z2Data's comprehensive database evaluates the lifecycle, compliance, supplier risks, and more for over 1 billion parts. Start a free trial with the Part Risk Manager to assess the most critical components within your supply chain.