With recent environmental concerns and the rising cost of oil, the automotive industry has once again seen a shift, as consumers are demanding more compact, fuel-efficient vehicles. Technological advancements have enabled automobile manufacturers to address the demands of its customers with the mass-production of environmentally friendly vehicles, such as hybrid and electric cars.
Since the introduction of electric vehicles, a primary concern from many skeptical consumers has been the reliability of the charging solution. Not only is the operating life of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery being questioned, but also the lengthy battery recharging process is an issue. These obstacles have undoubtedly delayed the mass-production of electric vehicles by major automotive manufacturers. With recent interconnect technology advancements, the charging of a lithium-ion battery can be significantly reduced from the standard eight hours down to four hours.
With the release of the SAE Electric Vehicle J1772 charging specification in January 2010 (a standard adopted in both the U.S. and Japan for Level 1 and Level 2 electric vehicle charging), the automotive market demanded a robust coupler capable of passing the stringent UL 2251 certification. In addition, the application required a high amperage charging solution that could provide fast, easy, and safe charging of any electric vehicle.
Manufacturers have addressed the needs for a high amperage solution and have reduced the Level 2 charge time by 50%. With a single inlet design that allows for Level 1 and Level 2 charging, this advanced interconnect system has proven its ability to meet both electrical and mechanical UL specifications.
The design features high efficiency power contact technology to provide flexible functionality, with minimal modifications, across a power curve ranging from a low of 15A/120V to a high of 75A/240V. The interconnect solution utilizes standard ITT VEAM CIR series backshells, flange gaskets, and mounting plates, providing for an enhanced cable management system that incorporates robust and proven techno and ground pin contacts on the inlet side. Freeze-preventing drain holes enable outdoor use in extreme environments.
Customer demands will continue to drive the automotive industry, and thus the design of automotive connectors. The demand for higher performance, increased functionality, improved safety and lower cost cannot be met without technology and product innovations. As manufacturers adapt designs to be on the front end of consumer trends, engineers must continuously develop reliable, durable, and scalable connector designs with high-density packaging that take up less space while reducing costs.
Ted Worroll is in Product Management at ITT Interconnect Solutions.