The development trends and solutions for electric cars and electric two-wheelers

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The development of electrification in automobiles has been rapid, with this trend not only affecting four-wheeled vehicles but also actively transitioning to electrification in two-wheeled motorcycles to reduce carbon emissions. This trend is particularly prevalent in South Asia and Southeast Asia. This article will introduce the current status and trends of electric cars and electric two-wheelers, as well as related solutions introduced by Arrow Electronics, NXP and STMicroelectronics.

The market demand for electric cars and electric two-wheelers is experiencing rapid growth

The development of electric cars is progressing rapidly in many developed countries such as Europe and America. In China, it is receiving substantial investment from both the government and businesses. It is estimated that by 2025, the penetration rate of new energy vehicles in China will reach 50%. The original target of achieving a penetration rate of over 50% for new energy vehicles by 2035 may be realized ten years ahead of schedule.

However, for many developing countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia, iconic tuk-tuk have long been the primary mode of transportation. These two and three-wheeled vehicles are widely used for short-distance transportation within cities, providing an affordable and flexible means of travel. Now, the trend towards electrification is also extending to two-wheelers and three-wheelers in these regions.

According to reports, in February 2024, the registration of electric two-wheelers in India surged significantly, rising by 24% compared to the same period last year. The penetration rate of electric two-wheelers reached 5.7% in February 2024, slightly up from 5.6% in January, highlighting the sustained growth momentum of the electric two-wheeler market. Market analysis suggests that by 2030, 80% of two-wheelers could be electrified. This is primarily because electric two-wheelers are expected to save 20-70% in ownership costs compared to gasoline-powered ones, and the lower barriers to entry in manufacturing have attracted a large number of companies to invest in this market. 

Furthermore, the demand for motorcycles in Thailand's motorcycle industry continues to be strong, achieving the third-best performance in the past decade with consecutive market growth in 2023. The overall motorcycle sales have reached 1.87 million units (+4.4%), with the electric motorcycle segment also experiencing robust growth in the low-end and mid-range segments (+117.2%).

Forecasts indicate that the electric two-wheeler and electric three-wheeler markets in Asia will experience compound annual growth rates (CAGR) exceeding 30% and 11%, respectively, in the coming years. This electric revolution will not only impact Asia but is also poised to bring new transformations to urban transportation globally.

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Reference design based on NXP S32K396 and GD3000

The electrification technology is driving the rapid development of electric cars and electric two-wheelers

From the market trends of electric cars (four-wheeled electric vehicles), traction inverters are considered the most valuable feature. Designs are evolving as battery pack voltages range from 400V to 800V or even higher, and efficiency and performance are key factors driving market development.

The technological trends in electric cars also include the development of lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries, and other new battery technologies to improve energy efficiency. Autonomous driving technology is actively being developed in the field of electric cars, and the integration of smart connectivity technology allows electric vehicles to interact and share information and data with other vehicles, infrastructure, and users' smart devices, further enhancing the intelligence level of electric cars.

Furthermore, the use of lightweight materials can reduce the overall weight of electric cars, improving energy utilization efficiency. Therefore, the future trend is to research and apply more lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum alloys. Developing efficient energy management systems can maximize the use of electric vehicle energy, extend driving range, and optimize energy management systems through software and hardware technology innovations. These technological trends collectively drive the development of electric cars, making continuous progress in energy conservation, intelligence, and safety.

On the other hand, in the electric motorcycle (electric two-wheeler) market, traction inverters and factors such as high speed and long-distance travel are core determinants of the ranking of electric two-wheelers in the market. Governments in South Asian countries are particularly focusing on the development of electric two-wheelers to reduce carbon emissions.

Similar to electric cars, battery technology is also crucial in electric two-wheelers. Future trends include the development of batteries with higher capacity, lighter weight, faster charging speeds, and longer lifespan. Electric two-wheelers have stricter requirements for weight and vehicle structure compared to cars, so lightweight design is an important development direction. This will involve the use of lightweight materials and optimization of vehicle structure to reduce overall weight and improve energy utilization efficiency.

Smart technology will also be widely applied in electric two-wheelers, including smart connectivity, autonomous driving assistance systems, vehicle remote control, etc. Further development of smart technology will enhance riding safety and convenience. Additionally, the construction and popularization of charging infrastructure are important directions for development. Improving the energy efficiency of electric two-wheelers, optimizing the electric motor system, control system, and enhancing energy utilization efficiency to extend the driving range are key aspects.

Safety technology for electric two-wheelers is also evolving continuously. Future trends include the introduction of more advanced systems such as anti-lock braking systems, electronic stability control systems, collision warning systems, etc. These technological trends collectively drive the development of electric two-wheelers, making continuous progress in energy conservation, intelligence, and safety, thereby gaining increasing favor from consumers.

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Fully meeting the traction inverter control requirements of electric vehicles

The electric vehicle market is currently experiencing rapid development, accompanied by an increasing demand for enhancing the performance of electric vehicles. Designers and automotive manufacturers need to accelerate the speed of product launches while prioritizing the improvement of efficiency and end-user experience. Additionally, they need to seek suitable solutions to develop a wide range of applications, including traction inverters for electric vehicles, which undoubtedly presents a challenge.

The S32K39 MCU, introduced by NXP, is a new member of the S32K series and is highly suitable for electrification in both automotive and two-wheeler applications. It can assist in functions such as battery management, efficient motor driving, fast charging, and load balancing across the entire electrical grid.

The S32K39 MCU series is specifically designed to meet the requirements for controlling traction inverters in electric vehicles. It offers several advantages, including robust performance, extensive integration, reliable connectivity features, advanced security, and functional safety capabilities. Therefore, it can accurately control traction inverters, which play a crucial role in the normal operation of electric vehicles, battery performance, and driving experience.

The S32K39 MCU series has broad applicability and can be used in various electric vehicle applications beyond traction inverter control, including battery management system (BMS), onboard charger (OBC), and DC/DC conversion. Their information security and functional safety capabilities surpass traditional automotive MCUs, and they also support technologies such as hardware isolation, time-sensitive networking (TSN), and advanced cryptography, making them compatible with zonal vehicle E/E architectures and software-defined vehicles.

The S32K39 MCU boasts distinctive features, capable of handling two traction inverters. They are equipped with four lockstep pair arranged 320MHz Arm® Cortex®-M7 cores, two split-lock cores, two motor control co-processor units, and a digital signal processor (DSP). They can support two 200kHz control loops, which work in conjunction with IGBTs as well as SiC and GaN power switches to improve efficiency and achieve higher switching frequencies. This helps reduce the size, weight, and cost of motors while expanding the driving range. Additionally, they have up to 6MB of built-in flash memory and 800KB of SRAM. The MCU features ISO/SAE 21434-certified cybersecurity and development processes that comply with ISO 26262 functional safety standards.

When combined with the NXP FS26 Safety System Basis Chip (SBC) and NXP GD3162 High-Voltage Isolated Gate Driver, a S32K39 MCU can serve as a dual traction inverter solution for ASIL D applications. The FS26 SBC powers the system and ensures isolated security monitoring, while the GD3162 gate driver provides adjustable dynamic gate strength to adapt to different driving conditions and PWM dead-time enforcement, reducing switching losses and improving efficiency. Additionally, there are responsive error protection mechanisms, and NXP offers engineering samples, evaluation boards, and a comprehensive range of software support and tools.

The FS26 series Automotive Safety System Basis Chips offer multiple power supply options, supporting entry and mid-range safety microcontrollers such as the S32K3 series. The FS26 devices also support other microcontrollers targeted for automotive electrification applications, including powertrain, chassis, functional safety, and low-end gateway applications.

The FS26 features multiple switch-mode regulators and LDO voltage regulators to power microcontrollers, sensors, peripheral ICs, and communication interfaces. It provides high-precision voltage references for the system and reference voltages for two independent voltage tracking regulators. Additionally, various features are available for system control and diagnostics, such as analog multiplexers, GPIO, selectable I/O wake-up events, long-duration timers, or SPI communication.

The FS26 complies with the ISO 26262 standard, covering ASIL B and ASIL D safety integrity levels. It has multiple fail-safe outputs and is an integral part of safety-oriented system partitioning, with the latest on-demand latent fault monitoring.

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Highly integrated automotive application controller solution for electric two-wheelers

The SPC560 family, introduced by ST, is a 32-bit System-on-Chip (SoC) automotive microcontroller series, representing the latest advancement in integrated automotive application controllers. It belongs to the expanding lineup of automotive-centric products aimed at addressing chassis applications, particularly Electric Hydraulic Power Steering (EHPS) and Electric Power Steering (EPS) systems, as well as safety airbag applications.

The STDRIVE601 is a high-voltage device manufactured using BCD6s offline technology. It is a single-chip solution with three half-bridge gate drivers, suitable for N-channel power MOSFETs or IGBTs in three-phase applications. All device outputs can sink and source currents of 350 mA and 200 mA respectively, with interlock and dead-time functions to ensure prevention of cross-conduction.

The device features dedicated input pins for each output and a shutdown pin. Its logic inputs are compatible with CMOS/TTL and operate at voltages as low as 3.3 V, allowing easy interfacing with controller devices. Matched delay between the low-side and high-side sections ensures no cycle distortion and enables high-frequency operation.

Embedded within the STDRIVE601 is a comparator with advanced Smart Shutdown (SmartSD) functionality, integrated directly into the device. This feature ensures fast and effective prevention of fault events such as overcurrent and overtemperature. Dedicated UVLO protection for both the low-side and each high-side driving sections prevents the power switches from operating in low efficiency or dangerous conditions. The STDRIVE601 integrates a bootstrap diode, and all the built-in features of this IC make application PCB design easier, more compact, and simpler, reducing overall bill of material. The device is packaged in SO-28, making it suitable for applications such as three-phase motor drives and inverters.

Software implementation: Field-oriented control (FOC), or vector control, is a technique for variable frequency control of the stator in a three phase BLDC motor drive using two orthogonal components. One defines the magnetic flux generated by the stator, while the other corresponds to the torque as determined by the speed of the motor determined by the rotor position.

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Reference design based on STM SPC560P50 and STDRIVE601

Conclusion

Electric vehicles, including both cars and two-wheelers, are continuously seeking higher-capacity, faster-charging, and longer-lasting battery technologies to improve range and convenience of use. They are also evolving towards greater intelligence and safety, while emphasizing ongoing technological innovations in energy efficiency and carbon emissions reduction. These advancements present significant market development opportunities. The electrification solutions discussed in this article can assist manufacturers in accelerating the development of related products. For more information, please feel free to contact Arrow Electronics directly.

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