How EMI Shielding Techniques Are Powering the Future of EV/Hybrid Vehicles

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It’s hard to remember a time where streets were void of electric and hybrid vehicles. In fact, it’s quite common these days to see plug-in stations in parking lots and hear of well-known automotive brands embracing the electric culture.

While some vehicles rely entirely on electricity and others require a supply of gasoline, the goal is the same: to make driving less expensive and reduce pollution in the environment. And the technology is doing just that.

Based on an average compact vehicle with 28.8 mpg, the cost of fuel per year adds up to $1,500 and 4.7 metrics of global warming pollution. A plug-in hybrid vehicle brings this total down to $764 in yearly fuel costs and 2.9 metric tons of pollution, with electric vehicles making an even more significant gap at $421 and 2.3 metric tons.

While this gives some insight into the current capabilities of EV/hybrid vehicles, there is always an instinct to look toward the future and see how this technology will advance. One thing that’s sure is the important role EMI shielding techniques will—and already do—have.

How EMI Shielding Fits Into the Design of EV/Hybrid Vehicles

Electronic devices can be found in multiple pockets of vehicles. They are in the sensors that prompt airbags to react; computer diagnostics that warn drivers about engine issues and low fuel tanks; and global positioning systems that offer step-by-step directions.

These various elements have already opened up the door to potential electromagnetic interference (EMI). The system in the vehicle is listening for the right signal to function but instead hears another signal on the spectrum. This unintentional conversation not only impacts the performance of the electronic system but it also introduces issues in terms of how secure the data remains.

With electric and hybrid vehicles, the EMI issue is magnified all the more. The large magnetic field between the cables of the battery and the engine, as well as the battery and the charger, can negatively affect other electronic systems in the vehicle. Incoming EMI is also a source of concern as it can harm the battery and its circuits, too.

The best solution for mitigating both mutual and outside interference is through EMI shielding. By developing a protective enclosure around the vehicle’s cables and circuits, automotive designers can significantly reduce interference between systems and avoid subsequent issues.

Choosing the Right EMI Shielding Techniques

The choice of EMI shielding techniques is a question of when and how. After all, both elements play a crucial role in how effective a defense the shields are.

In terms of timing, sooner is better. Auto manufacturers should make EMI shielding a priority early on in the design process, alongside the design of the electronic components themselves. This avoids the discovery of EMI issues on the assembly line, where solutions can become far more expensive and shielding designs can take up additional space.

In terms of the process, quality is key. The most powerful EMI shielding techniques are those that not only allow tight tolerances but are also repeatable and scalable to meet long-term needs. Chemical etching is one method that falls under this umbrella, with the ability to create parts as thin as .0005 in. that can be consistently replicated in the manufacturing stage.

The Future of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

Electric and hybrid vehicles may only make up a small piece of the automotive market now, but that number is expected to rise over the next several years. A driving factor behind this growth is having the proper technology to support the safety and comfort of these vehicles.

The continuous advancement of EMI shielding techniques is an important part of this process. With a well-timed and well thought out approach, automotive designers can ensure that vehicles of the future meet every need a consumer has.

As a supplier of metal parts and components, Switzer supports these efforts. Decades of experience in shielding technologies and cutting-edge techniques help vehicles achieve the compliance and optimization they need to excel.

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