Electric cars make up only about 10 percent of the global market, but already automakers and suppliers are preparing for the next generation of components, with solid-state batteries, axial flux motors -- and now, 800-volt electrical systems that promise to cut charging time in half, sharply reduce battery size and cost, and increase drivetrain efficiency.
So far, just a handful of cars use 800-volt systems, as opposed to the current 400-volt standard. Those in series production available in Europe include the Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron GT, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6. Outside of Europe, the Lucid Air luxury sedan uses a 900-volt architecture (experts say it is technically an 800-volt system).
By the end of the decade, suppliers say, 800-volt architectures will be the dominant technology, especially as more and more dedicated full-electric platforms such as Hyundai's E-GMP and Volkswagen Group's PPE appear.
"In 2025, the majority of applications coming into the market will be 800 volt," said Dirk Kesselgruber, president of the electric drivetrain division at GKN, one of several Tier 1 suppliers that have embraced the technology. GKN is now offering 800-volt-ready components such as e-axles, with an eye to starting series production in 2025.
"We think it's going to be the mainstream, and Hyundai has proved that it can be competitive on price," Kesselgruber told Automotive News Europe.
Other suppliers echo his enthusiasm.
"800 volt is the logical next step in the development of BEVs," Alexander Reich, head of innovation power electronics at Vitesco, said in an interview with ANE. Vitesco has recently landed big contracts for 800-volt enabled components, including supplying inverters for Hyundai's E-GMP platform, inverters to a major North American automaker and electric motors for a leading electric vehicle maker in China.
"The 800-volt sector has grown faster than was expected several years ago, and we are seeing a lot of interest from our customers," said Harry Husted, CTO at BorgWarner, in an email to ANE. BorgWarner has won a number of 800-volt orders, including one for an integrated drive module for a Chinese luxury brand.