A competitive maintenance concept for after-sales service is an important factor for the success of electric vehicles. It has to be possible to reliably and safely inspect, service, and repair electric vehicles’ high-voltage systems.
A consortium led by the Bosch Group has developed a standardized integrated diagnostic system that in the future will be able to clearly identify and locate defects in the electrical powertrain. The consortium’s project on diagnosis and repairs for electric vehicles, dubbed DINA, was funded to the tune of 2.8 million euros by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the leading-edge “Electric Mobility South-West” cluster. The results of this research have important implications for suppliers, automakers, workshops, and testing organizations. Besides the Bosch Group, the consortium included DEKRA Automobil GmbH, the Fraunhofer Ernst-Mach-Institut, and the Research Institute of Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines Stuttgart (FKFS).
Any company looking to succeed in the electric vehicle market needs a competitive aftersales concept. For this reason, from July 2012 to July 2015, part of the DINA project was devoted to drawing up standards for the diagnosis and repair of high-voltage systems in electric vehicles and to researching suitable measurement methods. Consortium members also created an integrated diagnostic system to help detect and localize problems in an electric vehicle’s powertrain, from the high-voltage battery and inverter to the motors and charging system. This allows workshops to carry out “modularized repairs”. If it is possible to precisely determine where problems lie, there is no need to replace whole systems. Instead, in the future it will be possible to pinpoint and replace defective parts individually. This makes repairs not only faster, but also much more affordable.
Being able to precisely locate problems is especially important when dealing with high-voltage batteries that consist of numerous independent cells. To make future battery systems easier to repair, the study also makes specific suggestions for how to build them. The diagnostic and repair methods the consortium has developed can now be contributed to the automotive industry’s development projects.
Aftersales needs better diagnostic Systems
A look at aftersales reveals how critical the DINA project’s research is. For example, flawless powertrain testing and diagnostics are an indispensable part of technical tests such as general vehicle inspections. What’s more, an electric vehicle’s value depends heavily on its condition, age, and the state of health of the valuable high-voltage battery. The project produced key insights into how to determine this state of health. Similarly, electrical powertrains call for new measuring devices and equipment for workshops and test benches. This is also an area the study addresses with recommendations and approaches for development work.
Leading-edge “Electric Mobility South-West” cluster
With some 100 players from science and industry, the leading-edge “Electric Mobility South-West” cluster is one of the most important regional associations in the field of electromobility. Coordinated by the regional agency e-mobil BW GmbH, the cluster aims to drive forward the industrial-scale manufacture of e-mobility in Germany and to establish the German state of Baden-Württemberg as one of the major providers of electromobility solutions. It brings together leading corporations and SMEs, especially those in the region covering Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Stuttgart, and Ulm, and networks them with local research institutions in four fields of innovation: vehicles, energy, information and communication technology, and production. In addition, the cluster features specialized working groups to ensure full coverage of all topics. The “intelligent move” working group, for instance, focuses on digitalization and automated driving.