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How Electrification is Changing Testing in R&D

POSTED 02/26/2024

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Transitioning from ICE to Automotive Electrification in R&D Testing

Manufacturers of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) powered vehicles are increasingly shifting towards Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) to meet ambitious 50-60 percent zero-emissions mandates by the year 2040. This transition is a complex and costly endeavor, impacting industry leaders, engineers, and facility managers worldwide due to diverse national initiatives. Expert guidance is crucial in navigating this transformation, given its intricate nature. Successfully mastering this conversion within the transportation industry holds substantial advantages, particularly in a sector known for its high-profile and significant contribution to climate change mitigation efforts.

Numerous companies have initiated the transition, while others seek to understand the ideal points of entry for best practices within their Research and Development (R&D) workflow. Those who have already made the switch are determined to further enhance their processes. Their objectives include enhancing safety and efficiency in their EV test environments and ensuring their end products match or even surpass the high standards set by Tesla, all in a bid to secure and expand their market share.

Embracing electrification requires a strategic shift in how R&D units approach product testing. This transformation has a ripple effect, affecting various stages of product development and a multitude of testing areas and methods. For that reason, finding the best solution does not apply solely to any one group—for example, equipment designers. The harder, but more successful path, lies in simultaneously addressing task “chains” testing links here, there, and everywhere. Collaboration is key, bringing together engineers, systems integrators, facility managers, R&D professionals, and executives who grapple with the future-shaping impact of electrification. Together, they must navigate this complex transition effectively.

Transitioning from ICE to BEV protocols in R&D testing is a substantial undertaking, and it is far from as simple as changing a light bulb; it's more like rewiring an entire building. Regardless of a company's size or industry, the initial planning stage commences with a deep understanding of the Challenges, Constraints, and Risks (C, C, and Rs) associated with this transition. Automotive electrification significantly impacts testing methods, encompassing areas such as:

  • Powertrain testing procedures – Engineers now focus on battery chemistry, inverter logic, and motor rotor positioning, rather than traditional methods of measuring fuel consumption and emissions.
  • Environmental and thermal testing – Manufacturers must simulate extreme weather conditions for high-voltage battery systems, making temperature and moisture sensitivity a crucial factor.
  • Noise and vibration testing – With electric vehicles, the absence of internal combustion engine noise makes NVH testing increasingly vital. Engineers must now pay closer attention to detecting motor-related issues.
  • EMC testing – Compliance with FCC standards for Electromechanical Component (EMC) testing is mandatory due to the electric nature of BEVs, raising the importance of addressing potential electromagnetic emissions from the vehicle and electric motor.

Electrification requires a strategic shift in R&D testing for various industries, emphasizing optimism tempered with realism to manage the risks that come with it. Understanding this transition is crucial for planning initiatives and protocols to facilitate this significant shift. Read more in our white paper about how electrification is changing in R&D testing.