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A brief introduction to: electric vehicle connectors

21st August 2018

As taxes against diesel vehicles increase and with total bans on the horizon, plenty of industry experts believe diesel is running on fumes. With this in mind, the specialist vehicle industry is turning its attention to plug-in hybrids (H-EVs) and 100% electric vehicles (EVs) for green power and future sustainability. But electrification requires a new approach to automotive design and brings to fore the importance of high-quality automotive connectors to bring life to innovations.

At the heart of any specialist electric vehicle, such as hybrid trucks and electric construction vehicles, are its connectors. Connectors ensure power is distributed reliably throughout every electrical system, from the battery to the powertrain, to dashboard electronics and other specialist equipment. They also help in the event of faults, allowing operational systems to keep functioning in the case of a singular system failure.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the main objectives for specialist electric vehicle designs and the ways that the range of electric vehicle connectors enables engineers to achieve them.

 

Power consumption

The National Grid in the United Kingdom is anticipating a huge demand increase for power when 100% EVs make up a significant portion of British road traffic. Even in the immediate future, power demand is expected to ramp up as more non-passenger vehicles begin to electrify.

The trend of electrification doesn’t only apply to powertrains. New specialist vehicle designs are exploiting new technologies in safety & security, convenience, live driver insights, and even advanced body & chassis systems. Vehicles are about to become more connected, more useful, and even more frictionless to own and maintain.

TE Connectivity charging plug

Connectors are able to improve power deliverability and reliability, while they also ensure the systems can be maintained easily. Connectors are available in a variety of sizes, weights and specifications: High voltage connectors safely guarantee high voltages are distributed through powertrains, for example.

Smaller connector systems, such as TE’s miniaturised automotive interconnection system (NanoMQS) are perfect for increasing the density of electronics within a vehicle, without adding undue weight. These sorts of connectors are perfect for radio functionality, video window monitors and also other safety or convenience features for drivers.

 

Range

One of the biggest gripes with EVs at present is the lack of range – and that’s not just in passenger cars. Even the most advanced electric vehicles only offer a fully-charged range short of 300 miles. Specialist vehicles are typically heavier, with much more functionality and plenty more components & systems integrated within the design. This calls for intelligent design practices to 1) lightweight, 2) miniaturise and ensure 3) power efficiency throughout.

Take an ambulance: to successfully electrify an ambulance, all systems need to be powered throughout the length of the journey, and whilst paramedics are attending to a patient at the scene. Lightweighting is essential to minimise the weight equipment takes up. Miniaturisation is also critical to save space, which could be put to better use for life-saving medical equipment and enhanced performance, ensuring range can be maximised.

Connectors, once again, play a crucial role in power efficient, lightweight and miniaturised vehicle designs. Dalroad stock a wide range of EV and H-EV connectors to enable engineers to meet all three criteria and enable their designs to go the full distance.

Quality and robustness

One of the major differences between passenger cars and specialist vehicles is the life they endure. This makes it imperative that the tough nature of specialist EV life is incorporated into the design from the beginning.

Connectors also need to be tough and durable, especially when they need to survive (and thrive) in the harshest of environments. They need to protect components, wires, and the systems themselves from dust, water, vibrations, and high temperatures. Fortunately, there is a range of EV connectors capable of coping with strenuous conditions – allowing EVs to operate off-road and keeping them protected from the elements.

Modern EV connectors use materials like thermoplastics and lightweight metals to give them rugged, durable qualities without adding unnecessary weight. Some connectors even guarantee connectivity when submerged in fuel, such as the AS MicroLite HE Fuel Immersible series of connectors. Choosing the right connectors can extend the life and elongate maintenance cycles for customers – two great benefits.

 

Lightweighting and siting

In any automobile, lightweighting and siting components/systems are essential considerations during early prototyping and design. The lightweighting equation is simple: lighter components reduce the mass of a vehicle, reducing the amount of energy needed to propel the vehicle.

TE Connectivity charging plug

With a range of connectors available, there is no need to unnecessarily add weight or reposition systems due to a lack of choice. Lightweight materials are incorporated within connectors to guarantee reliability in extreme conditions without weighing your vehicle down. Connectors come in all sorts of shapes and sizes to ensure that they can accommodate your designs, fitting under bonnets, directly onto the chassis or into car doors as necessary.

 

Connecting you with the right connectors

Dalroad supply a huge variety of connectors, specifically designed and manufactured particularly for specialist electric vehicles. These are available in a range of forms, functions, and configurations to enable use in a huge variety of specialist applications in the future: think electric tractors, ambulances, waste disposal vehicles and more – they’re all expected to be the new norm!

If you’re involved in a specialist electric vehicle project and are looking for support with your component selection, get in touch with our technical experts at Dalroad. We can help you with design-in, technical product support, application and even stocking agreements.

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