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Latest Bosch semiconductor boosts electric-car range

By making more power for various electronics, the vehicle can use a battery's range more efficiently.

Bosch semiconductor
This little thing will help increase EV range, and that's amazing.

Range anxiety. It's one of the key pillars that consumers often say keeps them from ditching fossil fuels and stepping into an electric car. Bosch, which has long researched various elements of electric powertrains, introduced its latest effort to help ease the discomfort around battery range and EVs.

And it all comes from a very familiar piece of technology overall: semiconductors. Today, modern cars employ semiconductors for numerous tasks. Bosch's latest semiconductor infuses carbon atoms into silicon to create silicon carbide, which in turn, conducts electricity better.

The positives from better conductive properties translate directly to more electricity to power other parts of the car, such as various electronics. If you don't see where this is going yet, it means an electric car can use its battery to specifically power motors, rather than spare juice for wipers, infotainment or whatever else the driver needs in a moment. Bosch said in its Monday announcement that the silicone carbide semiconductor should help boost an electric car's driving range by 6%.

Taking one standard issue Chevy Bolt EV for example, which is good for a 259-mile range as of the 2020 model year, and whipping out the handy-dandy calculator, shows a 15.5-mile range increase. While this semiconductor isn't adding dozens of miles, squeezing another 15 miles from a more affordable electric car is no small task. In the pursuit for driving ranges comparable to a tank of gasoline, every mile counts.

The semiconductor is far more efficient in general, compared to today's silicon units. Far less energy is lost to heat (50%, according to Bosch) and they can handle greater switching frequencies to handle more tasks. In the future, we'll likely only see more semiconductors in cars with advanced automation.

For automakers, it also may mean they can focus on packaging a slightly smaller battery if the semiconductor can handle more of the work. Smaller batteries equals less weight, and perhaps even more space in the car.

Between advances from companies like Bosch and quicker charging times, the electric car appears more and more poised for prime time in the years to come.

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