Nidec and Renesas Electronics are co-developing semiconductor technologies for a next-generation E-axle (X-in-1 system) that integrates an EV drive motor and power electronics for electric vehicles.
Today’s EVs are increasingly adopting 3-in-1 E-axle units, which integrate a motor, inverter and gearbox (reduction gear). EVs are also now being fitted with integrated power electronics controls such as DC-DC converters and on-board chargers (OBCs). As the next step, in order to realise high-performance and efficiency, as well as smaller unit size, lighter weight and lower cost (and to accelerate vehicle development), EV manufacturers in advanced markets such as China have developed an X-in-1 platform that integrates multiple functions, accelerating its adoption in many vehicle models.
As X-in-1 integrates multiple functions and is thus a complex design, maintaining a high-level of quality in vehicles is becoming more of a challenge. Thus, developing preventive safety technologies such as diagnostic functions and failure prediction is crucial for ensuring safety and security in vehicles. To address this challenge, the two companies have agreed to combine Nidec’s motor technology and Renesas’ semiconductor technology to jointly develop a highly reliable and high-performance proof of concept (PoC) for the X-in-1 system. The aim of the PoC design is to support the industry’s highest performance and efficiency, as well as enabling smaller size, light weight and lower cost for the X-in-1 system.
The companies plan to launch the first PoC by the end of 2023, which will feature a 6-in-1 system with a DC-DC converter, OBC and power distribution unit (PDU), as well as a motor, inverter and gearbox. As a second phase in 2024, Nidec and Renesas plan to develop a highly integrated X-in-1 PoC that incorporates a battery management system (BMS) along with other components. The first PoC will include power devices based on SiC (silicon carbide), and the second PoC will replace the DC-DC and OBC power devices with GaN (gallium nitride), to create greater performance in high-frequency operation, and to further reduce size and cost.
Building on the PoC developed through this collaboration, Nidec plans to rapidly productise E-axle systems for its product portfolio and ramp-up to mass production, with the ambition of leading the E-axle market.
Renesas plans to develop and deliver turnkey solutions for increasingly complex X-in-1 systems by expanding the jointly developed PoC for E-axle reference designs.
“We are very pleased to announce our collaboration with Nidec, which has an exceptional track record of success in E-axle traction motors,” said Vivek Bhan, senior vice president, and co-general manager of high performance computing in the Analog and Power Solutions Group at Renesas. “Our contribution to this collaboration extends beyond hardware design, encompassing software development which is critical to enabling rapid development of PoCs for our customers.”