How does battery thermal management contribute to the performance of an electric vehicle?

At the core of the electric vehicle is the electric battery, which today accounts for 40% of the vehicle’s value. The performance and durability of any electric vehicle is highly dependent on the conditions affecting its battery. Today, the range of such vehicles depends on the weather, and is adversely affected by very hot or very cold conditions. The time required to charge the battery is also a major concern for owners and users of electric vehicles. In addition to its powertrain systems, Valeo uses its expertise in battery thermal management – an area in which is a world leader – to advance the development of electric vehicles.

Battery thermal management, a major issue in electric vehicles

As with the human body, the battery’s operating temperature should always be monitored, protected, and maintained at the optimal level. If it is too cold, it does not deliver its full power. And if the thermometer climbs too high, it may even catch fire. Battery thermal management ensures a longer service life by keeping the cells within a range of 15° to 45°C during storage, operation, and charging. Valeo has all the technologies needed to cool or heat batteries and keep their temperature under control.

Innovations that prove their worth when electric vehicles are put to the test in real-life conditions

Charging times and outdoor temperature have a direct impact on the performance of the battery, which is subject to wide temperature variations.

When connected to a fast-charging terminal, the battery heats up above its usual limit and consequently requires more cooling. At Valeo, this led us to make some adjustments to our air conditioning loop, which both cools the battery and provides air conditioning in the cabin. The goal is to find the right energy balance between the cabin and the battery. For example, while cooling the battery, the air conditioning loop recovers heat, which it can transfer to the cabin if needed.

In winter, when outside temperatures are frigid, the battery may require preheating to deliver effective acceleration and fast charging. This can be done by means of a dedicated high-voltage component that heats the liquid circulating in the battery pack’s heat exchanger.

Innovations recognized by automakers

Valeo’s battery thermal management systems extend the range of electric vehicles. To date, they have brought in €2 billion worth of orders. As a result, one out of every three cars in Europe will be equipped with one of our thermal systems by 2022.

In 2019, Valeo signed major contracts for battery thermal management systems with automobile manufacturers in Europe, Japan, and China. At the same time, we have a high-voltage electrical heating system going into series production on the world’s largest electrical vehicle platform for a leading German brand.

In 2020, Valeo will supply the battery cooling systems for a high-volume electric vehicle platforms from a leading German automaker, among others. And it is not stopping there. Valeo will soon be offering thermal modules for retrofitting. This means that existing vehicles will also be able to benefit from the latest advances in cooling technology, depending on the desired charging speed of the vehicle. Intelligent control of all thermal management systems ensures optimal battery performance (both in its charging and operating phases), while ensuring a long service life.

CES 2023