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AUTOMOTIVE Volkswagen keynote looks at the future of automotive power electronics

| Author / Editor: Luke James / Jochen Schwab

At PCIM Europe, Dr.-Ing. Robert Plikat from Volkswagen discussed the latest trends in automotive power electronics and how things could be shaping up for the future.

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Volkswagen will put 22 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road across 70 new electric vehicle models.
Volkswagen will put 22 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road across 70 new electric vehicle models.
(Source: Olivier Le Moal)

Early last year, Volkswagen Group signed off its comprehensive decarbonisation program. Under this plan, Volkswagen will put 22 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road across 70 new electric vehicle models, up from the company’s previous plan of 50, by 2028. And by 2050, the company hopes to achieve a full CO2-neutral balance.

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Expanding e-mobility is a fundamental element for reaching this lofty CO2-neutral balance target, particularly so for Volkswagen because the company is aiming to achieve it in all areas from administration to fleet to production.

Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG, said: “Volkswagen is taking on responsibility with regard to the key trends of the future – particularly in connection with climate protection. The targets of the Paris Agreement are our yardstick. We will be systematically aligning production and other stages in the value chain to CO2 neutrality in the coming years. That is how we will be making our contribution towards limiting global warming.”

Meanwhile at Audi, which Volkswagen holds a majority share of, estimates state that one-third of all its vehicles will be powered by battery electric and two-thirds of its vehicles will be powered by combustion engines by 2025.

In his virtual PCIM Europe keynote, Dr-Ing. Robert Plikat, Volkswagen’s head of power electronics, admitted that there is still plenty of work to be done in reaching these goals and that they may be shifted due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Audi sold 1.9 million passenger cars. 43,400 of these were pure electric e-tron models, or 2.3%. That’s a far cry away from the company’s goal 33% goal, and to reach it Audi will rely on several platforms including MLB evo platform and the “Premium Platform Electric PPE” of the future.

To be able to achieve its goals, Volkswagen and Audi will make best use of the latest innovations in the field of power electronics. And by looking at current power electronics trends and what’s new in the field of semiconductors, design engineers can gauge metrics critical to the success of EVs such as efficiency and make use of them in the planning process.

In the keynote, Plikat highlights how semiconductors are putting the automotive sector on the list and are aiming for electromobility and power semiconductors of 450 V up to 1,500 V during operation depending on the vehicle. These bring new applications that can be adopted by the automotive industry. It also means that semiconductors’ applications will be more specific in automotive. Plikat highlights SiC, GaN, Si, and other wide bandgap materials as the new trend, new advances with electron mobility opening the market. He expects that Si will stay in the market while SiC will grow exponentially.

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