Mobility trends shape automotive connector design
From active safety to autonomous driving to next generation architectures to mobility on-demand, the connected car is truly re-defining the future of mobility. And while some future technologies are far from the mainstream, even today’s vehicles are incorporating functionalities to support features like multi-media infotainment and active safety systems.
The pace of disruption in our industry is happening at an unprecedented rate and continues to accelerate. This rate of change is shaping the future of connector design and development through four key areas.
As we add more and more software into vehicles, this drives an increase for more computing horsepower and faster data transmission speeds. Because of this, connectors are critical to not only enable the transfer of this high-speed data in current year models, but also have the ability to scale for future generations.
Developing connection systems that establish a platform for next generation technologies enables OEMs to defer costly re-engineering processes without compromising the end-user experience. Our holistic vehicle expertise in full systems integration, from sensor to cloud, encompassing the brain and the nervous system, is proven and future proofed. This allows us to deliver higher data transmission at lower costs, miniaturization with automotive-grade features, as well as modular and scalable solutions.
The pressure to miniaturize is not new, but OEMs face a step-change in the breadth and depth of functionality that their designs must adapt to. However, in the search for more efficient use of space, equally important is the fact that connector characteristics must not be forgotten.
For example, while the rules for mobility are being rewritten, the harsh environment in which automotive connectors operate remains unchanged. Miniaturization must take into account long-established requirements and future considerations, such as rugged reliability over an extended lifecycle, to meet today’s harsh environment settings and the future of mobility.
It is predicted that by 2022, more than 10 million of the vehicles produced annually will include a high-voltage electrified powertrain. Additionally, China’s new energy vehicle initiative is driving increased powertrain electrification and the more stringent European CO2 standards mean that European OEs cannot achieve the new CO2 targets without the combination of plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles.
Because of these government regulations, as well as consumers desire to reduce CO2 emissions, we are well positioned to support this technological shift – not only in high-voltage technology alternatives, but in the development of connectors that safely and effectively support these high-voltage architectures.
Our comprehensive portfolio, includes a market-leading range of conductive charging systems. These systems act as the link between the vehicle and local electrical infrastructure. This is a particularly challenging area for OEMs to address because such systems effectively straddle both the consumer and automotive domains, regulatory and certification frameworks are complex, and typically differ from one country to another.
Additionally, the intensity of the development cycle shows no sign of slowing, particularly given the ongoing pursuit of larger battery capacity and faster charging. Because of this, the ability to scale and flex is critical, which is where Aptiv is uniquely positioned.
In the 1980s, when 3D printing and rapid prototyping was created, it was revolutionary. During the past few years, the technology’s availability and popularity has skyrocketed. Today, it seems like everything can be 3D printed – from automotive parts and shoes to medical and prosthetic devices – even houses. Companies now have the ability to quickly produce prototype parts at low-volumes with unmatched speed when compared to traditional prototyping.
We’ve developed a commercial-ready, additive manufacturing program in partnership with Carbon that delivers repeatable, high-quality products capable of passing even the most stringent military standard (MIL-STD) qualification testing.
Our program not only improves the time-to-market production, but also delivers an optimized design regardless of complexity and at volumes to meet demand. Additionally, it can help to eliminate secondary manufacturing operations and additional tooling investments manufacturing process.
And while challenges remain, we are heading inexorably towards the day when thousands of new parts can be manufactured direct from a CAD model, eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming tool making. Our additive manufacturing opens the doors to re-examine what was once considered impossible to manufacture to a streamlined process that has the capability to deliver the same fit, form and function of the design with materials, accuracy and repeatability like never before.
Innovative connector solutions are already playing a key role in the mobility revolution. Going forward, higher speeds, improved space efficiency and support for electrification will only grow in significance. And the unprecedented flexibility offered by additive manufacturing will represent another opportunity for OEMs.
Aptiv and its strength in automotive connection systems will be ready to handle these trends today and for the future.