Analysis of Electric Vehicle Configurations | In Practise

Analysis of Electric Vehicle Configurations

Former VP, Electrical Systems at Aptiv

Why is this interview interesting?

  • The engineering and drivetrain process of an internal combustion engine, a hybrid and pure EV vehicles
  • Comparison of componentry in ICE vs EV configurations
  • Why the inverter is 'the brains of an EV'
  • How OEMs are deciding which components to insource vs outsource
  • How legacy Tier 1 suppliers are leveraging gas/diesel components for electronics
  • Where the value add for OEMs lies in an EV battery pack

Executive Bio

Flavio Guacelli

Former VP, Electrical Systems at Aptiv

Flavio joined Delphi Automotive in 2014 as VP and Director of the Connections Systems business in America where he built on previous technical and operating experience at Bain Capital’s automotive connector business FCI Electronics where he was General Manager of the Americas. Flavio then followed the electrical side of Delphi’s business into the new Aptiv entity where he was VP and MD or the Electrical Distribution System business in America where he had full P&L responsibility. Read more

View Profile Page

Interview Transcript

How should we look at the core mechanics of an internal combustion engine?

Okay. I think almost everybody is very familiar with the internal combustion car, but one of the things people normally overlook is how complex the systems supporting the internal combustion engine in the car are. Normally, when we look at it, we start looking from where we get the fuel, so we have all the fuel lines going to a tank, and then this tank leading the fuel lines to go to the engine itself, where we have an ignition system. Normally they're in the middle of a controller of the ignition.

Once the ignition occurs, this combustion will generate some motion, which will be in the pistons of the engine. Then, the crankshaft and the gearbox will transform what will be an up and down motion of the piston into a circular motion that is transferred to the gearbox down to the wheels. That's how the mechanical energy we have locked into diesel or gasoline is converted into motion. To support this process, there are other subsystems, if you will, in the car, which are very important.

One is, once you have the ignition, you have to exhaust all the carbon monoxide through to the back of the car, so you have the muffler system and the exhaust system. That's where the waste of this process is managed. Also, we have the heat exchange; we also have to have a system that manages the temperature of the engine. We have a whole bunch of supporting systems to keep the engine cool. That will allow us to balance, if you will, the heat exchange and keep the engine reasonably cool, which is why we have all the systems on that.

The third subsystem is the electrical system that we have on the car, which is normally attached to either the crankshaft or the gearbox or somewhere else. It depends on the vehicle. We also have the alternator, which will take that motion that we have available in the car and convert that to electricity. As some of you may know, the alternator operates in AC alternate current. Then we have their conversion from alternate current to a direct current. Normally, that's stored into the system at 12 volts. That means all the equipment, all the componentry on the electrical system of the car, normally operates at 12 volts in traditional cars. You've probably seen a panel at 12 volts signage, your battery is meant to work at 12 volts. That's basically what the internal combustion engine or car has. The main system, the supply system, the motion, the mechanical crankshaft system. Then we have the electrical systems, the panel control and the exhaust system to support all these internal combustion systems. Any more clarification needed at this point about this process?

First of all, roughly, how does the cost split down between each of those core segments in IC?

I would say that normally what we call the power plant, which the whole process, the whole system normally accounts for 25% of the car. If you're talking about a $20,000 car, $25,000 car, it could be something around $4,000, $5,000. The big chunk, needless to say, it is the engine and the transmission and the gearbox, which normally most of the OEMs prefer to manufacture themselves. They consider this a core competency and adds a little bit to the character of the vehicle, if you will. They are quite often manufactured by the OEMs themselves. Then, they outsource every other componentry to typical OEM suppliers that play in this domain. They have specialists for the fuel lines, they have specialists for the fuel tank, for the refrigerator part, they have specialists for that, they have specialists for the electrical systems and exhaust systems. Normally, 25%. It depends on the car. A sports car probably would be a different ratio, but that would normally be the cost breakdown of that system.

Which components do the OEM's typically insource?

Normally, it's the engine block itself.

They will insource the transmission?

Yes, they will manufacture that in their own factories. They will have factories that specialize. Sometimes, there are some players like Cummins - they're the ones that come to mind - that make engines for OEMs. But, in the majority of cases, when they talk about cars, they make the frames, and the engines, and the gearbox are manufactured in dedicated factories in the OEMs. Normally, they have factories where they chose to do the engines by types: four liters, three liters, V8 or V6. Then they ship to many vehicle assembly plants, which they could actually manufacture. That's normally the configuration that most OEMs have out there for the traditional internal combustion vehicles.

Can we then run through the different configurations of EV and how they each compare to this engine and different componentry?

Okay. The key reason why we are moving to electrical vehicle, and one of the key factors for this shift is that electricity is a much more efficient way of getting motor energy or getting motion in a vehicle. Just to give some examples, one gallon of gasoline has equivalent of 33 kilowatt-hour of energy. Basically, if you look at a Tesla car today, as we discussed, they have about 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack. Basically, a Tesla vehicle today, a Model 3 or a Model S, runs full autonomy similar to an AC car with a three gallon tank.

Their battery pack is equivalent to a two or three gallon internal combustion engine. Normally, most of the sedans equivalent to a Tesla will probably have a 12 to 15 gallon tank, while the battery pack of a battery electrical vehicle is three. Basically, the autonomy you get from a traditional internal combustion is about 30 gallons per mile. If you want to extrapolate what I just said, the autonomy of electrical vehicle is 130 to 140 miles per gallon. It's almost four times more efficient than internal combustion.

If we were to eliminate the technical challenge with electricity and the storage of electricity and the charging of the batteries, we would have a much more efficient system at the end. How the industry evolved, and that's the question that you were asking before, we started from the internal combustion and now we have three or four types of vehicle with different level of electrification.

OK. So can we run through the four different electric vehicle configurations?

We have the hybrid cars which are basically cars that have some additional boost or some different level of help of electricity on the internal combustion. We have two levels: one we call mild, and the full type. Then, there is another one which we call plug-in hybrid vehicles, which basically says, "I will not rely on the electric generated by the car itself. I will have an outside source of energy coming from the grid that will allow me to help to charge the battery, which in turn will provide the electricity and support motion during the activity of the car."

If you look at the definition, normally that means that, at some point in time, you are going to use one of the modes of operation of the car; the battery and electricity will be the main driver of getting the motion of the cars in place. Then, there is a third or a fourth one, which is, we get rid of all the internal combustion engine with all the subsystems that we talked about earlier in our call, and we are just focusing now on having batteries, and an inverter, and the engine or a motor, I should say, that would provide the motion to the car.

We get rid of all those systems that we talked earlier in the call and we just have a system that is going to be charged from the grid, the battery will hold the energy and on demand, as we are driving the car or we want to go drive the car, it will be generating motion and moving the car forward. Hybrid, plug-in hybrid and the battery electrical vehicle are the three main definitions. When we talk about hybrids, we have the mild hybrid and full as the key leaders or main definitions. There are many variations in between there, but I'll keep it simple for the interest of our conversation.

Let's just concentrate on those three; the full hybrid EV, plug-in, and then battery. Can you run through the components firstly on the full hybrid EV? Maybe use the Prius as an example.

Sign up to read the full interview and hundreds more.


Analysis of Electric Vehicle Configurations

October 12, 2019

Sign up to listen to the full interview and hundreds more.


Speak to Executive

Join waiting list for IP Premium
Did you like this article ?