The prevalence of electric motors in automotive designs is increasing considerably, as a substantial proportion of modern vehicles’ functionality is migrated away from traditional mechanical implementations towards modern streamlined electronic implementations - in order to reduce weight and thereby improve fuel economy. Among the areas where electric motors are now seeing widespread deployment are in fuel/oil/water pumps, exhaust gas recirculation systems and electric power steering systems. In addition, they are providing a highly effective way by which to automate what were previously manual tasks (the adjusting of door mirrors, opening/closing of windows, operation of climate control systems, locking mechanisms, seat positioning, etc.) so that greater comfort and convenience is experienced by the vehicle’s occupants.
Fuelled by the boosted efficiency that can be derived, plus the elevated degrees of flexibility and reliability these devices offer, market analysis firm IHS estimates that during 2016, electric motor shipments specifically for automotive applications will reach a total of 3 billion units. Nevertheless there are still technical issues that need to be overcome, whether it is for DC or BLDC motor types, in relation to the supporting electronics that drives them. Among the most challenging of these are optimising the driver electronics so that bill of materials costs can be kept in check and minimal board real estate is utilised (to counter the space constraints witnessed in today’s automobile design). In addition, of course, the driver electronics must be robust enough to deal with the harsh operational environment into which it is being placed and, when implemented in critical applications, also support the functional safety standards now being mandated.
The following white paper, from Toshiba, looks at how the advent of more sophisticated driver IC technology (based on advanced mixed signal semiconductor processes) is addressing these issues. To download this document click here: