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What is Electric Vehicle(EV) Controller? - Types & Components

What is Electric Vehicle(EV) Controller? - Types & Components

Checking out a few of the statistical data on electric vehicles in India. The government of India has set a target of 30% electric vehicles on Indian roads by 2030. To achieve this target, the government has announced several incentives for electric vehicles. Such as tax breaks and subsidies. The adoption of electric vehicles is still in its early stages in India but is growing rapidly. In 2021, the sale of electric vehicles in India grew by 200%.

This data shows the hidden potential of electric vehicles in India. That is why we are here to uncover the concept of controllers in electric vehicles. 

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What is an Electric Vehicle Controller?

Increasing concerns regarding climate change have encouraged the adoption of electric vehicles. Electric vehicles offer low carbon emissions, a minimum dependency on non-renewable resources, and promote innovation in the automotive sector. 

Hence, the need to learn more about EVs is the need of the hour. By the definition of electric vehicle controller (EVC), it is a combination of a powertrain control unit (PCU) and driver control unit (DCU) used between various electrical and mechanical components of an electric vehicle. 

Motor Controller Specifications By Vehicle Class

The functioning of the EVC is similar to that of a carburettor in a gasoline-powered vehicle. The electric vehicle controller controls various tasks, including:

  • Power Distribution to an Electric Vehicle: Based on the system requirements, it distributes the power to different sectors throughout the electric vehicle. 
  • Torque Production and the Speed of the Electric Motor: The EV controller translates the driver’s input into the amount of current to be sent to the electric motor. It allows the driver to accelerate and decelerate the vehicle. 
  • Charging System of the Electric Vehicle: The EV controller manages the vehicle’s charging system. It streamlines the current flow and maintains the voltage distribution for better charging and working. 
  • Managing Battery Performance and Health: It acts as a battery manager. The electric vehicle controller continuously monitors the battery of the vehicle for its temperature, current flow, and voltage. It ensures that the vehicle’s battery is working within the permissive parameters.
  • Controls Necessary Signals and Communication Mechanisms: The controller plays the role of a bridge, transmitting signals between the driver and the vehicle’s intricate system and back again. For example, it relays crucial data such as the charge level, battery performance, the vehicle’s motion, and other essential information.
  • Integrated Braking System of Electric Vehicles: Basically, electric vehicles equipped with regenerative brakes. It controls the kinetic energy stored in the vehicle’s battery, making it more efficient.
  • Seamless Integration: An electric vehicle is an amalgamation of various electrical and electronic components. It ensures that the thermal management system, charging system, braking system, and other sensors work efficiently and correctly. 

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How Does an Electric Vehicle Controller Work?

How Does an Electric Vehicle Controller Work

Below, we have deciphered the complex workings of an EV controller into simple words:

  • Receiving Inputs from various Sensors:  The EV controller receives inputs from four major sensors.
    • Motor speed sensor: Used to measure the motor’s speed. 
    • Battery Voltage sensor: It measures the voltage induced in the batter.
    • Throttle position sensor: This sensor is used to measure the position of the throttle pedal.
    • Brake status: It conveys whether the vehicle is in a state of motion or rest. 
  • Data Processing: Received data is processed using the EVC’s embedded microcontroller. An algorithmic approach is followed to extract valuable insights. It includes output produced, torque induced on the motor, and hence control signals are generated for the motor. 
  • EV’s Power Conversion: The EVC controls the power flow from the battery using the processed data as guidance. It manages the power electronics that transform the battery’s direct current (DC) into the alternating current (AC) required by the electric motor.
  • Motor Control: Based on the inputs received and signals generated, the EVC adjusts the frequency and amplitude of the AC supplied to the motor, thus regulating its performance. The motor converts the control signals into electrical energy. The motor rotates, which propels the vehicle forward.
  • Battery Management: The EV controller also manages the vehicle’s battery. It gathers the necessary information about the charging and prevents it from overcharging and deep discharging. 
  • Regenerative Braking: Regenerative braking is activated by the EVC when the vehicle slows down. It turns the motor around in reverse order and converts the energy from kinetic energy to electrical energy sent to the battery. 

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Electric Vehicle Motor Vs. Electric Vehicle Controller

Electric Vehicle Motor Vs Electric Vehicle Controller

Both an electric vehicle motor and an electric vehicle controller share the goal of moving and propelling electric vehicles into the future. But these two terms are very common, but their functioning is poles apart:

ParametersElectric Vehicle MotorElectric Vehicle Controller
FunctionIt is used to generate mechanical power to drive the vehicleIt is used to control and manage the power flow throughout the electric vehicle
RoleElectric vehicle motor converts electrical energy into mechanical motionIt governs the various operations carried out within the electric vehicle
MechanismIt utilizes electromagnetic fields to create motionIt uses the algorithmic approach to regulate power distribution
ComponentsVarious components included stator, rotor, windings, and bearingsIt consists of microcontroller, sensors, and power electronics
Operation AttributesIt focuses on torque, speed, and efficiencyIt majorly focuses on power distribution, battery state management, and regenerative
Direct impact on VehicleIt determines the performance, acceleration, and top speed of the vehicleIt enhances efficiency, range, and battery life
Performance InfluencesEfficiency, power output, driving experienceEfficiency, range, and regenerative braking
Innovation and EvolutionAdvancements in magnet technology and cooling systemsEnhanced algorithms and better power management
Adaptability and CustomizationMotors are tailored for specific vehicle typesControllers are adaptable across various EV models

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What are the Components of an EV Controller?

What are the Components of an EV Controller

To understand electric vehicle controllers well, it is essential to have an in-depth knowledge of the various components of EV controllers. 

To make you understand these components better, we will relate all these components to the human body. 

Below mentioned are the different types of EV controller components:

  • Memory: The concept of memory in an EV controller is similar to that of data repositories. It is used to store critical data inside the EV controller. It usually contains data like algorithms, operational parameters, and fault codes. These data repositories are used to make logical decisions and optimize the performance of the electric vehicle. The working of this component is similar to that of the hippocampus, a part of the human brain where memories and learning data are stored. 
  • Sensors: It is one of the most important components of an EVC. It acts as the receptor of EVC, which means it gathers real-time data on operational parameters. These operating parameters include vehicle speed, battery voltage, motor RPM, and temperature. Sensors help the EVC to adjust the current supply based on the inputs from the driver. 
  • Actuators: Actuators are represented as the muscles of the EV controllers. This component is used to execute the signals generated from the controller. For example, torque distribution to the wheels and regenerative braking. 
  • Power Converter: It manages the flow of electrical energy between the battery and the motor. It acts as the power source of the electric vehicle controller, similar to mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouse. It also distributes power efficiently to increase the vehicle’s performance. 
  • Communication Interface: As the nervous system of humans works as a long chain of communication throughout the human body. Similarly, EV’s communication system works. It interfaces with systems like the Battery Management System (BMS) and the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) to exchange critical information. Promoting cohesive vehicle operations.
  • Cooling System: Thermoregulation is how the human body maintains its body temperature. Similarly, EV’s cooling system cools down the temperature induced due to an intensive workload. This system safeguards the longevity and reliability of the controller by following the physics law for heat dissipation. 
  • Wireless Communication Module: The hypothetical concept of telepathy in humans depicts the working of this component of EVs. A wireless communication module enables remote diagnostics, firmware updates, and data sharing with external devices.

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Types of Electric Vehicle Controllers

Types of Electric Vehicle Controllers

EV enthusiasts assemble! Below mentioned are the major types of electric vehicle controllers. Go through the points to learn more about them:

  • Alternating Current (AC) controllers: This type of controller is specifically designed for electric vehicles running AC motors. It converts the DC power in the battery to AC power for the motor. It is the popular choice for EV manufacturers as its cost-effective and uses regenerative braking capabilities. AC controllers are used in cars, trucks, and buses. 
  • Direct Current (DC) controllers: This type of controller works with DC motors. It is used to control the motor’s speed and torque while managing the DC power flow from the battery to the motor. The significant advantage of DC controllers is it offers high starting torque and rapid acceleration. DC controllers are preferred for motorcycles and scooters.
  • Hybrid controllers: Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) employ hybrid controllers to manage the coordination between internal combustion engines and electric propulsion systems. Hybrid controllers are majorly used for hybrid vehicles. 
  • Field Oriented Control (FOC) controllers: One of the most advanced controller systems employed for enhancing the motor’s efficiency and control. FOC controllers utilize the motor’s magnetic field with induced current on the motor to carry out smooth operations. Due to the use of FOC controllers, motos produce improved torque control and reduced energy loss. 
  • Inverterless controllers: Since their inception, inverterless controllers have been working towards eliminating traditional inverter powertrains. It simplifies the overall system, reduces weight, and enhances efficiency, which is particularly beneficial for light electric vehicles and cost-sensitive applications.
  • Silicon Carbide (SiC) controllers: SiC technology is employed in this type of controller. SiC controllers offer a high amount of thermal conductivity, which helps to handle higher voltages and temperatures. It leads to a longer lifespan of the EVC. 

A note for the readers: You need to choose an EVC that fits your vehicle requirements. Otherwise, the controller will not be cost-effective and unable to meet your requirements.

Check out our blog to learn more about the Types of Motors in Electric Vehicles.

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How Do We Choose an Electric Vehicle Controller?

How Do We Choose an Electric Vehicle Controller

Selecting a suitable electric vehicle controller is a very important and daunting task. We present you the parameters that you should consider while choosing the one. 

  • The Type of Motor: While considering the type of motor for your EVC, you should ensure the synergy between them. That is, your EVC must be compatible with the motor. For example, AC induction motors and brushless DC motors. 
  • The Power Output: The power rating of your motor and EVC should match. If this parameter is not considered, then the overall performance and efficiency of the vehicle will be affected. Also, consider another case of an overpowered controller. It will strain the motor leading to its shorter lifespan. 
  • The Cost: It is the most crucial factor in investing your hard-earned money. While considering an EVC controller, you should make a logical decision based on the price and alignment with your budget and needs.
  • The Features: Modern EVCs offer a range of features that can enhance your EV’s performance and driving experience. Look for features like regenerative braking, adjustable parameters, communication interfaces, and diagnostics tools. 
  • The Compatibility: Here, you have to ensure that your EV’s battery is compatible with the voltage and current rating of your EV controller. 
  • The Warranty: A reliable warranty reflects the manufacturer’s confidence in their product’s quality. Look for EVCs that come with a substantial warranty period. It safeguards your investment and provides recourse in case of unexpected malfunctions.

What are the Advantages of Using EV Controllers?

What are the Advantages of Using EV Controllers

In recent years we have seen how these electric vehicles have helped modern humankind. Similarly, because of the multitude offered by the EVCs, we can achieve a certain level of efficiency. Let’s look at what advantageous factors EVCs have provided us. 

  • Improved Performance: Due to the remarkable precision of the EVC (Electric Vehicle Controller), we’re able to command the EV motor in ways previously unimaginable. This precision translates into seamless signal generation, instantaneous torque and acceleration delivery, and an exhilarating driving experience that’s both dynamic and responsive.
  • Efficient and Reliable Equipment: Undoubtedly, a controller holds a pivotal role within an electric vehicle. It serves as the driving force behind the vehicle’s potential, enabling it to outperform traditional counterparts when paired with a suitable battery configuration.
  • Economically Feasible: By efficiently managing power distribution, EVCs contribute to reduced energy consumption and lower operating costs. Their simplified design often results in decreased maintenance expenses.
  • Easy to Setup: The concept of plug-and-play is followed throughout the electric automotive sector. Their user-friendly interfaces and compatibility with various EV components ensure hassle-free integration.
  • Highly Scalable Products: EVCs are adaptable to various motor configurations and battery chemistries. It allows us to build a wide range of electric vehicles with similar architecture. 
  • Wide Working Spectrum: Due to the evolution in the EVC sector. We can build city commuter vehicles to heavy-duty commercial or military vehicles. Recently, a group of students from IIT Delhi has been working towards building Indian Army’s first electric vehicle. 
  • Future Ready: A constant development is recorded in the EVC and electric automotive sectors. Which promises a future with lots of innovations and betterment.

The electric automotive industry is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. Here are some survey and statistical data on the electric automotive industry’s future in India:

“The Indian government has set a target of 30% electric vehicles by 2030.” 

“According to a report compiled by the Rocky Mountain Institute, India could have 100 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.”

“The electric vehicle market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 40% from 2021 to 2028.”

“The Indian electric vehicle market is expected to be worth $150 billion by 2030.”

Below are a few of the top trends that you can expect from this automotive industry in the upcoming years:

  • Rise of Silicon carbide (SiC) and Gallium nitride (GaN) Transistors: Introduction SiC and GaN transistors to the electric automotive industry as the replacement of traditional silicon transistors. These SiC and GaN transistors will be lighter in weight, smaller in size, and more efficient with the EVCs. 
  • Increasing Government Regulations: Talking specifically about the Indian automotive market. By 2023, the government of India (GOI) expects to phase out all commercial fleets running on traditional fossil fuels. Also, the GOI has launched two schemes FAME II and PLI scheme to promote the induction of electric vehicles on Indian roads. GOI also provides additional tax reductions on electric vehicles and a battery swapping policy. The aim is to reduce the dependence on the use of fossil fuels. 
  • Development of Axial Flux Motors: The electric automotive field is rapidly advancing, and innovation is the new normal in this era. Introduction of new motor technology known as axial flux motors. It will help to improve the efficiency and performance of the electric vehicle. 

Conclusion

In the blog, we have discussed about electric vehicle controllers, their benefits, various types, and the associated terminologies. EV controllers play vital in the electric automotive industry. With the help of EVCs, we are able to achieve a certain level of efficiency and performance within the safety limits. Based on the survey data published by a reputable source, we are expecting the demand for electric vehicle controllers to grow by 50% in the upcoming years. Thus, EVCs are expected to become even more important. 

The industry is poised for remarkable advancements, with continuous innovations in EV charging technology promising even greater efficiency, longer ranges, and enhanced driving experiences. Embrace the shift towards cleaner transportation, and anticipate a future where electric vehicles equipped with cutting-edge EVCs dominate the streets, shaping a greener and more efficient world for all. Stay informed, engage with industry developments, and become a part of the exciting journey towards sustainable mobility.

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