ZF is offering 800-volt components for electric vehicles, with the architecture providing shorter charging time and improved power demand.

The German supplier is preparing premium volume production launches in China and Europe

ZF says an increasing number of automotive manufacturers are responding to the requirement for faster charging times for battery electric vehicles with the introduction of modified on-board power system architectures.

In the electric premium and sports car segments especially, high-voltage vehicle power supplies are now being designed for 800 volts rather than the current 400 volt systems. ZF is reinforcing this design trend with the development and production of corresponding components for electric driveline.  

At the core are power electronics using silicon carbide as a semiconductor. ZF has already seen this technology applied in the Formula E racing series. Now, ZF has won the first customer orders for use of the technology in premium production starting this year.

“It is becoming apparent the 800-volt architecture will become established in future premium electric or electric sports cars, whereas the 400-volt architecture will remain the standard in the volume market,” said Bert Hellwig, responsible for the system development of electric drives at ZF. 

“For years, we have been supplying 400-volt technology for volume production, this year, we are preparing the start of production for 800-volt applications.”

“We are currently working on the start of production for several premium 800-volt projects,” added Hellwig. “We supply a Chinese OEM with the complete electric driveline, including power electronics, for several models.

“For a European sports car manufacturer, ZF provides power electronics for a high-voltage application.

“When designing power electronics for 800 volts, we can expand synergies between passenger cars and other applications, for example, in commercial vehicles.”

For the first time in premium vehicle production, ZF is using new chip technology: Instead of silicon transistors, silicon carbide components are used, reducing internal switching losses in power electronics.

As power electronics have a very high energy throughput during electric driving and recuperation, the efficiency of the entire electric driveline increases, with a positive effect on range.

ZF first used silicon carbide power electronics in Formula E.