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Sensata to supply Electric Truck OEM with Power Distribution Units for DC Fast Charging

A major manufacturer of electric long-haul trucks needed a solution to provide safe and reliable control and protection for DC fast charging of its next-generation truck. Sensata Technologies has announced it will supply a truck OEM to provide its Power Distribution Units for DC fast charging of electric trucks.

The solution is critical to electric vehicle (EV) safety and equipment lifetime – protecting the vehicle operator and the batteries, often the most expensive components on an EV. Sensata say their Power Distribution Units are optimized for heavy vehicle electrified powertrains operating up to 850V. The units feature leading contactor, fuse and control unit technologies from its Gigavac and Lithium Balance product brands in addition to a compact, actively cooled design to enable 500A (and higher) for charging.

Sensata says its Power Distribution Unit (PDU) safely disconnects power from the battery system in the event of a short circuit, which can occur from various scenarios such as a vehicle being hit by another while charging or a defect in the charging cable.

To ensure electrical safety while charging the vehicle, the high voltage contactor and fuse must be adequately paired for complete fault coverage in all operating conditions. To solve this challenge, Sensata’s Power Distribution Unit utilizes in-house GigaFuse technology with pyrotechnic capabilities to provide fast triggering in the event of a short-circuit, effectively paired with the appropriate Gigavac contactor. The PDU includes fuse and switch technology from Sensata’s Gigavac product brand; it also features Lithium Balance’s controller technology with embedded software capabilities for high voltage interlock (HVIL), contactor control, and communication of current, temperature and voltage.

Explaining the potential impact of the new business, Nick Moelders, Vice President, Electrification at Sensata Technologies said, “We expect the global Electric Commercial Vehicle market to grow at a CAGR of 20% from 2020 to 2030, and the acquisition of Battery Management System capabilities in combination with our contractors enables us to provide this new solution which opens a Serviceable Available Market (SAM) upwards of $1.3B for Sensata across all types of PDUs in electric trucks and buses”

Commenting on the recent opportunity, Nick adds,

“This strategic win demonstrates the success of our combined technology portfolios from recent acquisitions like Gigavac and Lithium Balance and how this allows us to provide more comprehensive solutions to our customers as they commit to electrifying their fleets.”

There are inherent challenges in designing this type of solution, namely around current levels, temperature, space constraints and cybersecurity. Components must meet current carry and temperature requirements by incorporating a cooling system into the design. In addition, the control board needs to adhere to AUTOSAR standards.

Sensata says its experts across electrical and mechanical engineering and software development came together and worked closely with the customer to develop a comprehensive solution. Utilizing experience in controls and technological know-how from recently acquired Lithium Balance, the team developed a custom control board for specific electrification applications. Sensata’s unique position to design and manufacture all the safety-critical components of the solution like contactors, fuses, control boards, and software in-house helped secure the win.

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