Apple has been working on ways to improve power transfer systems in electric vehicles, which could assist with running low power equipment inside cars, similar to Porsche and other electric car manufacturers.
As the electric car market heats up spurred on by Tesla’s push for widespread charging stations across the United States and worldwide, new models have been appearing in well known car manufacturers, known for precision engineering such as Daimler (owner of Mercedes Benz) and also newer players such as Faraday Future.
Apple’s Proposal for Converter Architecture
Apple has applied for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, published October 11th of this year for "Converter Architecture.” The patent explains how power from a high voltage source could be converted to a lower voltage, and how this can be used in automotive systems.
Both electric and hybrid vehicles are usually power by a high energy source such as a high voltage battery. This system powers the car’s initial movement and also powers internal components and systems ranging from the dashboard to air conditioning, battery controllers and infotainment. Converters that are typically used today are inefficient and vary in their electrical output. This could in turn, damage low voltage components.
Apple has proposed a solution to use an unregulated direct current (DC) converter changing the high energy source into a lower voltage. This in turn, is passed on to a second regulated DC converter that will regulate the vehicle’s voltage. In addition, a second lower-voltage power source like a battery could be connected to a regulated converter and recharged. If the power sent to the regulated converter is below acceptable thresholds, then the second power source will offer a supplemental power, thus ensuring that the vehicle can fully power all connected components. This proposal is intended to assist in the conversion of battery power for both buses and automotive vehicles that have electric vehicle power trains.
Given the patent’s cited high voltage numbers of 800 volts (initial high source) to 48 volts (lower voltage for connected components), it can be expected that the patent is intended for high performance vehicles ranging from sports cars to buses. To put this voltage number in perspective, consider Tesla’s Model S, a luxury vehicle intended for consumers that is known for its initial fast acceleration. The Model S uses a battery voltage of 375 volts.
How and when Apple will use this system is not yet evident, although the company has also filed patents for sunroofs and headlight systems. Well known industry TF International Securities analyst Ming Chi-Kuo has predicted that Apple will come out with its own vehicle down the road, potentially between 2020 and 2025 with excellent integration of hardware, software and services. TF International Securities is a financial services group in the Asia-Pacific region. Ming Chi-Kuo regularly collects intelligence from his contacts in Apple's Asian supply chain, analyzes the data and compiles research notes for his investor clients. Ming Chi-Kuo has become well known as an Apple industry expert for his accurate assessments and predictions. Kuo predicts that a nw Apple Car would revolutionize the automobile market like the iPhone did in 2007.
At Elf, we have been working on a variety of connected car innovations with our automotive clients since 2016. Some of these models are now coming to market at the start of 2019. We are excited about the future for automotive vehicles and how we can contribute in the best way to provide consumers with delightful, intuitive experiences.