The car of the year 2019, the Jaguar I-PACE, is the most recent proof that electromobility can be fun. The car’s two electric motors enable the sporty compact SUV to accelerate up to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds. This requires particularly strong power electronics.
Jaguar’s I-PACE model has been named as the 2019 “Car of the Year”.
In its time, this long-established automotive manufacturer has launched quite a number of cars onto the market. And all these cars have made history.
Yet of all things, it is an electric car that has seen the British manufacturer scoop up the most coveted automotive prize in Europe.
Prof Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO: “The I-PACE was developed on a white piece of paper by a design and engineering team in the United Kingdom. It only took four years to get from the initial concept to the finished series model. It’s our most technologically advanced model to date and we think it will give a strong impetus to electromobility.”
Proprietary electric motors
Jaguar has managed to take the full potential of the electric drivetrain and light-weight aluminium construction. As a result, the vehicle combines sports-car performance with the practicality of an SUV.
The car is powered by two permanent-magnet synchronous motors, which Jaguar Land Rover developed itself. Based on the drive typology, they resemble the electric motors used in the I-Type Formula E racing car.
They can generate 294 kilowatts of power and produce a torque of 696 newton metres. So as to achieve the most compact solution possible, the drive shafts are guided through the motors.
By integrating the two motors into the front and rear axle, they enable powerful acceleration from a standing start. But also a facilitate all-wheel traction on any road surface.
However, the car of the year named I‑PACE doesn’t rely on just any conventional transmission. It can accelerate without interruptions to the traction and without any need to change gear. In this case, from zero to 12,000 rpm across the entire motor speed range.
This means that the electric Jaguar can jump from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds.
The key component in the car of the year: power electronics
In order to achieve this excellent power delivery, the car’s electric motor works with currents of up to 650 amperes. To master these high currents and their associated extreme load changes, Continental developed a system solution for Jaguar Land Rover.
This system solution was especially tailored to sporty high-performance drives.
In hybrid and electric vehicles, power electronics are a key component of the electric motor. They supply the electric motor with electricity and also control the energy recovery process (recuperation).
So, it is the power electronics that determine whether the full potential of the electric motor can be brought to fruition. As such, the power electronics are also key to maximising the driving enjoyment associated with the high starting torque. And instant response that form an inherent feature of electric motors.
IGBT enables excellent power density
The power electronics have to provide the full current within split seconds, for example during maximum acceleration from a standstill.
A particular challenge for the developers was mastering this extremely high load change, yet at the same time also guaranteeing the high cycle stability and durability rates required for automotive systems.
A further development objective was to achieve a high power density, so as to keep the assembly space as small as possible.
The particular component that contributed to obtaining this combination of performance, durability and compactness was an innovative power module – the core of the power inverter.
The inverter uses double-sided sintered chips (Insulated-Gate Bipolar Transistor, IGBT). Compared with conventional, soldered wire connections (bonds), using sinter technology enables you to create connections that fulfil significantly higher requirements in terms of durability, reliability and thermal load capacity. Therefore they are particularly well-suited for the premium sector.
Continental is the first company to use this complex process for automotive electronics.
“In addition to the double-sided sinter technology, this approach also involves, amongst other things, the use of special ‘Direct Copper Bonded’ (DCB) substrates, as well as Continental’s custom-developed power semiconductors. The overall architecture of the power electronics, and the materials used, are optimised for maximum power and driving dynamics,” explains Continental Project Manager Alexander Reich.
Another important special feature of the newly developed power electronics technology is that the same system can be used in quite different types of vehicles.
For example, the power electronics in the Range Rover Sport Plug-In Hybrid and the Jaguar I-PACE are completely identical in terms of hardware – the only differences are in the software.