The market for electric vehicle inverters, including converters, for both hybrid and pure electric vehicles—land, water and air—will grow to $18 billion in 2023 according to a new report from IDTechEx, “Inverters for Electric Vehicles 2013-2023”.
The demand for inverters and electric power conversions is already well established in the automation and industrial control industries which are also growing at considerable pace. The addition of a significant complimentary emerging market will create new sectors for existing inverter and power electronic component suppliers as well as create opportunities for new players, particularly those with specialist electric vehicle knowledge and those able to develop added value through highly integrated electric powertrain systems, the report suggests.
By volume, inverters in light electric vehicles such as electric bicycles dominate now and will remain so by 2023, with these being largely in Asia, meeting everyday personal transportation needs in large industrial cities.
However, by 2023 inverters and converters in passenger vehicles will dominate by market value as high-volume production is established and cost of ownership and range anxiety are reduced. The wide range in power and performance requirements, from small low voltage inverters used in electric scooters to large high power inverters used in hybrid and electric trucks, buses and military vehicles, creates a large emerging market space and set of market requirements and thus an opportunity for large number of suppliers of electric vehicle power electronic systems and components to supply demand, IDTechEx forecasts. There is no real possibility of dominance by one provider, the company suggests.
The user-demand for greater all electric range will push inverter and converter designers to optimize overall system efficiency. This, together with the requirement to reduce overall package size and system cost will result in the adoption of new materials and control algorithms and undoubtedly require a move towards higher levels of system integration.
Advances in inverter design for electric vehicles are being driven by several key technologies, including power device materials, power capacitors and cooling technologies. These will assist in the realization of step changes in performance, size and reliability over the next decade with materials such as Silicon Carbide and Gallium Nitride among the most notable, according to the report.
These, however, are unlikely to be in commercial high volume electric vehicle applications until much later in the decade due to issues around packaging and reliability. However, the benefits they offer indicate that they will be the most likely devices of choice by 2023. the report suggests.
Functional safety is becoming an increasing important and often mandatory requirement for electric powertrain systems and must be considered at early product design and component selection stages, frequently resulting in fault tolerant and dual redundancy designs.