The ability to charge an electric vehicle or plug in hybrid relies on the local infrastructure or energy supplier provision. Eclipseina GmbH specialises in embedded software development to deliver tailor made solutions for charging vehicles and assisting the automotive industry.
Refuelling conventional cars is second nature. But this isn’t always the case with electric vehicles (EV) or plug-in hybrids (PHEV). Although EVs and PHEVs have been around for a decade, owners still find charging points that function for other users but refuse to work with their vehicles. Furthermore, local municipalities and energy suppliers have been slow in rolling out the necessary charging infrastructure. So, when a charging point refuses to charge your vehicle, it can mean driving far out of your way to locate an alternative.
Business Worldwide Magazine caught up with Annette Kempf, award winning CEO of Regensburg based Eclipseina, to discover the cause of this issue and how her team ensures the automotive industry delivers a resolution.
We’re all used to refuelling conventional cars. What’s so different about electric vehicles?
Conventional vehicles have been around for a long time, and the infrastructure to support the delivery of petrol (gas) and diesel is well established. You simply pull up, insert the nozzle and, within a few minutes, you have stored enough energy, in liquid form, to drive hundreds of kilometres. EVs are different. Their batteries are not capable of absorbing electrical energy at the same rate. Furthermore, charging points for the fastest charging rates require an electrical supply that can deliver several hundred kilowatts of energy. This demands installing special electrical infrastructure that cannot be easily deployed in every street or home. For comparison, home appliances are limited to around 2,000 kilowatts.
Because of this, there is a wide range of charging solutions available, designed and built by a vast array of different manufacturers. For slower charging rates, such as when parked at home overnight or in an office car park during the day, AC charging points are used. These make use of the existing electrical supply to our homes. For rapid charging, such as at service stations on highways, DC charging is used. The voltages used are a lot higher, as are the power levels, enabling a few hundred kilometres of range to be added in 15 to 20 minutes.
The automotive industry is known for its standards. Surely there are standards in place for electric vehicle charging?
Yes, there are standards in place, such as DIN70121 and ISO 15118. However, the electronics used in charging points and the vehicles themselves are designed, built, and delivered by different suppliers. An individual vehicle manufacturer may well have several suppliers to provide the electronics for their various EV models. And while they are all following the same set of standards, subtle differences in implementation can occur due to varying interpretations of those documents.
It is important to note that the issues that occur aren’t related to the delivery of power to charge the battery. They occur due to a failure in the communication between the charging point and the EV. EVs are fitted with batteries of different capacities designed to suit the vehicle’s needs and provide owners with varying range options. Because of this, the charging point first needs to interrogate the vehicle to understand its voltage and power requirements. If this process fails, the owner is unable to charge their car.
What has Eclipseina been doing to improve this situation?
Our focus has been on standardising the part of the system that handles communication between the charging points and the electronic systems responsible for charging within the vehicle. With our EC-CHARGE-EVSE, charging point manufacturers have a modular solution that can be deployed to new designs (initial equipment) or integrated into existing equipment (retrofitting). The design also includes the intelligence required for communication with back-end services for billing purposes. It also supports secure over-the-air updates, keeping the software up-to-date.
Fully customised implementations can be provided, tuned to the precise requirements of our customers.
If there are so many issues with EV charging points, how can Eclipseina and its customers be sure that your solution will work as expected?
Testing is an essential aspect in the development of any vehicle — literally millions of tests are undertaken before a car hits the road. And the same applies to Eclipseina’s charging solutions, ensuring that our products are compatible with the broadest range of equipment already installed in the field. Furthermore, we also offer comprehensive testing products to ensure our customers can deploy their EV charging solutions with confidence.
The hardware part of the testing solution, EC-CHARGE-TEST, is complemented by various software packages. These simulate the behaviour of either a charging point or an EV, depending on which part of the system our customer is developing. Our solutions support engineering teams during the development of their products, manufacturers performing testing during fabrication, and service engineers in the field.
With such a diverse range of solutions, what help do you provide your customers in building more robust charging solutions for EVs?
In our experience, each customer has different requirements when it comes to approaching these EV charging projects. As a starting point, it helps if development team members participate in our online training courses hosted on our Embedded Academy platform. These are designed to support users with different backgrounds and knowledge, bringing them up to speed on the details of EV charging.
Projects are supported by in-house seminars and workshops that are matched to the requirements of the team and the project they are undertaking. In addition, we offer expert consulting ranging from customisation of our solutions to the development of unique test cases, differing test approaches, or integration with existing development and manufacturing flows.For further information on Eclipseina, their range of solutions for EV charging, and the training and consulting offered, please visit https://eclipseina.com