5 June 2023
Nidec and Renesas collaborate on SiC and GaN for EV E-Axle systems
Kyoto-based motor application product maker Nidec Corp and Tokyo-based Renesas Electronics Corp in Japan have agreed to collaborate on the development of semiconductors for a next-generation E-Axle (X-in-1 system) that integrates an EV drive motor and power electronics for electric vehicles (EVs).
EVs are increasingly adopting the 3-in-1 unit E-Axle, which integrates a motor, inverter and gearbox (reduction gear). To realize high-performance and efficiency as well as smaller size, light weight and lower cost, and to accelerate vehicle development, EVs are also integrating power electronics controls such as DC–DC converters and on-board chargers (OBCs). EV manufacturers in advanced markets such as China have developed an X-in-1 platform that integrates multiple functions, accelerating the adoption in many vehicle models.
As X-in-1 integrates multiple functions and increases in complexity, maintaining a high-level of quality in vehicles becomes challenging. Thus, developing preventive safety technologies such as diagnostic functions and failure prediction is crucial for ensuring safety and security in vehicles. To address this challenge, the two firms agreed to combine Nidec’s motor technology and Renesas’ semiconductor technology to jointly develop a highly reliable and high-performance proof of concept (PoC) for the X-in-1 system. The PoC is designed to support the industry’s highest performance and efficiency as well as smaller size, light weight and lower cost for the X-in-1 system.
The firms plan to launch the first E-Axle PoC by the end of 2023, which will feature a 6-in-1 system with a DC–DC converter, OBC and power distribution unit (PDU) as well as a motor, inverter and gearbox. As a second phase in 2024, Nidec and Renesas plan to develop a highly integrated X-in-1 PoC that incorporates a battery management system (BMS) along with other components. The first PoC will include power devices based on silicon carbide (SiC), and the second PoC will replace the DC–DC and OBC power devices with gallium nitride (GaN), offering excellent performance in high-frequency operation, to further reduce size and cost.
Building on the PoC developed through this collaboration, Nidec plans to rapidly productize E-Axle systems to add to its portfolio and ramp up to mass production.
Renesas plans to develop and deliver turnkey systems for increasingly complex X-in-1 systems by expanding the jointly developed PoC for E-Axle reference designs.
“By harnessing our strengths in automotive technology and developing PoCs together with Renesas, who is a leader in automotive semiconductor solutions, we aim to lead the market as a world-leading E-Axle provider,” says Mitsuya Kishida, executive VP & executive general manager of Nidec’s Automotive Motor and Electronic Control business unit.
Nidec has “an exceptional track record of success in E-Axle traction motors,” comments Vivek Bhan, senior VP, co-general manager of Renesas’ High Performance Computing, Analog and Power Solutions Group. “Our contribution to this collaboration extends beyond hardware design, encompassing software development, which is critical to enabling rapid development of PoCs for our customers.”