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Keeping the wheels turning: how Keysight is helping develop the low carbon e-mobility ecosystem

2019-02-15  |  6 min read 

Sometimes it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. In the earliest days of the auto industry, electric vehicles (EVs) were very popular as a clean and quiet alternative to dirty, hard-to-operate gasoline and steam cars. In 1900, nearly 30 percent of all the cars made in the U.S. were electric. But by the mid-1920s, EVs had effectively been driven out of the market by mass-produced conventional cars fuelled by cheap gas.
 
However, the wheel has turned full circle, with EV production and sales accelerating rapidly in response to rising fossil-fuel prices and Government-mandated emissions controls. These controls started with the 1965 Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act, which set standards for emissions from cars that were refined over the following decades. But these measures were not enough to stop the rise in pollution.
 
Even though modern gas and diesel vehicles are cleaner than they’ve ever been, a 2010 NASA study stated that vehicles were the largest net contributor of climate change pollution in the world. U.S. carbon emissions from transportation have been rising since 2012, and are nearly 20% higher than 1989 levels. In fact, cars and trucks produce close to 30% of all US carbon pollution, with passenger cars alone accounting for 60% of those emissions

These emissions have a direct impact on our lives, and not just in terms of the impact on our climate. 53,000 Americans die prematurely as a result of vehicle pollution each year. As such, switching to EVs is a critically important step in cutting that pollution and improving air quality globally.  

Switching to EVs 

The good news is, that switch is already happening at scale. There are around 5 million pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the world’s roads today, and that’s expected to grow to 13 million in 2020. But this shift is creating new challenges. 

First, how do we design EVs that are more efficient in their power usage, and offer a longer range between charges to ensure they fulfil owners’ need for convenience and ease of use? And second, with so many kilowatt-hungry power sockets to feed, how do we speed up developing and rolling-out the energy ecosystem (including charging stations, solar conversion systems, energy storage and distribution networks) that will support our EVs?  

Keysight is at the forefront of helping companies worldwide to solve these challenges, to drive innovation, and in turn have a positive impact on our societies and environment. We are working with leaders in the automotive, electronics and battery technology sectors, as well as leading international energy companies to accelerate development of an efficient, low carbon e-mobility ecosystem.

Driving change

Our design and test platforms are instrumental in helping to create and refine new, more efficient designs for the key components and devices in EV powertrains. They are used to test and validate new types of batteries, which will offer shorter charging times and a longer range between charges; and to design more efficient voltage converters and motors which deliver better on-road performance for the same energy input.  

These innovations extend outside the EV too. Currently, there are currently several different types of charging-cable connectors used globally, as well as different standards governing interoperability. This fragmentation is a brake on EV take-up, so we are working with international organizations such as the CharIN EV association to establish a global standard for EV charging.  

Our test solutions are also being used to accelerate innovations in renewable energy production and delivery, to ensure the shift to EVs is truly sustainable. Based on the current average U.S. power grid mix, the Department of Energy estimates that EV carbon pollution is 60% lower overall than that of gas-powered cars, and in a clean energy state like California, it’s 80% lower. And to underline Keysight’s commitment to environment-friendly operations, the three-acre, 1-megawatt solar electricity system at our headquarters in Santa Rosa provides 5% of the site’s electrical needs, and powers more than 30 vehicle charging stations, to further reduce our carbon footprint.

These are exciting times for the automotive industry as the momentum builds for a cleaner, sustainable transport ecosystem. Find out more about how Keysight is helping to drive this change here.