What You Need to Know: Thermal Management for Commercial Electric Vehicles
Every Electric Vehicle requires thermal management for the battery pack and power electronics for optimal operation. Careful management of temperatures can improve range, charging time, and minimize damage to critical vehicle subsystems to extend vehicle life. In fact, one source estimates that by optimizing thermal management systems, battery lifecycle costs can be reduced by 27% and carbon footprint by 25% over the lifetime of the vehicle.1
There are two main areas requiring careful consideration for thermal management – the battery pack and the power electronics.
- Battery Pack: The battery pack needs to be maintained in a narrow window – typically 20°C to 45°C – during both charging and vehicle operation to optimize the performance of the battery, extending vehicle range, reducing time to charge and increasing cycle life of the battery pack. A Battery Thermal Management System or BTMS is commonly used to maintain the desired temperature of the battery pack. Depending on the climate where the commercial electric vehicle will be used, the Battery Thermal Management System may have the capability to heat the battery pack for icy winter mornings as well as cool the battery pack on hot summer days and everything in between. Vehicles requiring extended range or more torque for heavier loads often have higher capacity battery packs and require higher cooling capacity from their Battery Thermal Management System.
- Power Electronics: The power electronic components – OBC (On Board Charger), inverter, converter and traction motor – typically warm up in operation. Most of these components derate at temperatures ranging from 50° to 65°C, which drives the need for a cooling package to maintain the power electronics below their derating temperature. The Electronics Cooling Package or ECP is sometimes called a cooling module. In general, heavy-duty vehicles demand more power to handle the higher torque required during operation than the average light duty vehicle or car, requiring consideration of thermal management for the power electronics on commercial electric vehicles.
Thermal management is a crucial consideration for commercial electric vehicles to ensure the vehicle meets its performance potential every day, during extreme weather and extreme loads.