Since its invention nearly 200 years ago, the electric motor has become so popular that its use is ubiquitous in many fields. Is there nothing more to invent? Well, yes actually because the auto industry has been adapting the electric motor — improving its efficiency (which is not as great as so often advertised), increasing its power density, and reducing its weight, form factor, and cost — to meet growing demand for electric and hybrid cars. Of all the types of electric machine technologies, only a few have been chosen by auto manufacturers and suppliers.
Valeo unveiled its latest innovations in driver assistance systems and self-driving vehicles at its Investor Day. The limitations in perception of household sensors are constantly being pushed back, be it for Valeo's second-generation SCALA LiDar, single-lens cameras that can determine distances, or ultrasonic detectors that now operate concealed behind bumper covers. In addition to the intrinsic performance of these devices, the quality of their measurements can also be maintained at a high level by a number of automatic cleaning solutions. Valeo also offers innovative in-vehicle detection systems.
The range autonomy of an electric vehicle (EV) depends on a multitude of parameters, particularly battery capacity. A 10% improvement in powertrain efficiency amounts to a similar increase in battery capacity without any added weight and with a much lower extra cost. The development of silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors that can be integrated into power electronic systems instead of silicon (Si) semiconductors makes this possible. Powerful electronic control units (ECUs) such as those in self-driving vehicles will also benefit from their advantages. SiC semiconductors are already being used by a some high-end makers and their widespread use is not far off. However, the main challenge today is industrial, not technical.