Car Tech 101: The move to higher-voltage electrical systems
Car Tech 101: The move to higher-voltage electrical systems
2:42

Car Tech 101: The move to higher-voltage electrical systems

Auto Tech
[MUSIC] Today your car almost certainly uses exclusively 12 volts direct current to do just about everything. You know it, this is the stuff that comes out of the cigarette lighter what we call the power port now. On your console. But it flows all over your vehicle, from tail lights to ignition system. Sometimes it's converted to higher voltage for things like high intensity discharge headlamps. But for the most part, this car is a 12 volt world. And that dates back over 60 years. Before that, it was a six volt world, and. Many instances. But now we're cutting the other way to higher voltage, namely 48. Now just as 12 volts is a big increase in the ability to get things done and do it efficiently over 6 volts, 48 volts is multi-fold improvement over the current standard yet it remains notably below the 50 volt DC line that is generally considered the beginning of substantial shock risk. To humans now the main motivation for higher voltage is coming largely from the engine bay. The things that use to be driven by these sloppy parasitic belts off the engine are now being driven by integral electric motors. I'm talking about things like power steering pumps, air-conditioning compressors and water pumps that move coolants around the engine. You can drive those by electricity and only when they're needed as supposed to constantly tattered to a belt you get nice efficiencies. And you also can package things a little more tightly in the engine bay. And speaking of electrifying things, several auto makers are considering using new electric turbo chargers. Which are spun up by an integral 48 volt motor, instead of by passing exhaust gasses. Which should reduce lag, make the plumbing more compact, and lower fuel consumption while creating that additional power. It goes without saying the EVs already use. High voltage, like the 375 volt system that powers the Tesla. And you've seen those orange wire housings inside electric cars and strong hybrids. Those call out the high voltage runs, but those are currently limited to systems that turn the wheels, not much else. But even if you don't look at a future with strong hybrids plug in hybrids and electric cars the move to 48 volts seems like its ready to happen because it grants so much more efficiency to even conventional gas engine cars. Allows packaging to be much more flexible, which designers love and takes components that zap the engines rotational energy all the time and convert them to devices that tax mostly the electrical system just part of the time. More car tech demystified right now. At CNETOnCars.com. Click on Car Tech 101. [MUSIC]

Up Next

Crash Testing New Electric Cars Proves They're Typically Safer
ev-crash-tests-00-02-09-11-still260

Up Next

Crash Testing New Electric Cars Proves They're Typically Safer

See What Makes the Best Tire for Your Electric Car
ion-evo-as-suv-ih01a-motion-graphics-mp4-00-02-48-12-still001

See What Makes the Best Tire for Your Electric Car

Why Are So Many Electric Cars, Scooters and Bikes Burning?
ev-battery-fires-00-02-02-15-still243

Why Are So Many Electric Cars, Scooters and Bikes Burning?

Seen the New 2023 Prius? Here's Why It's Turning Heads
2023-prius-reveal-b-roll-toyota-mp4-00-00-39-19-still001

Seen the New 2023 Prius? Here's Why It's Turning Heads

The Bestselling EVs of 2022
best-selling-evs-2022-00-02-00-17-still233

The Bestselling EVs of 2022

Best Dash Cams: A Buying Guide
cnet-buyers-guide-dashcams-2022-00-00-27-07-still086

Best Dash Cams: A Buying Guide

GM's Electric Pickups Head On: Comparing the Sierra EV to the Silverado EV
b-roll-gmc-sierra-ev-denali-edition-1-gmc-mp4-00-03-33-14-still003

GM's Electric Pickups Head On: Comparing the Sierra EV to the Silverado EV

Meet a Mind-Bending Hybrid: The Sono Sion Solar-Grid EV
sono-sion-00-09-01-10-still220

Meet a Mind-Bending Hybrid: The Sono Sion Solar-Grid EV

These Are the Cars That Qualify Now for the New Tax Credit
large-15747-2023-id-4-volkswagen

These Are the Cars That Qualify Now for the New Tax Credit

Don't Buy an EV Until You See the Most Important Ones Coming in 2023
221007-yt-electrified-best-evs-coming-in-2023-3

Don't Buy an EV Until You See the Most Important Ones Coming in 2023

Tech Shows

The Apple Core
apple-core-w

The Apple Core

Alphabet City
alphabet-city-w

Alphabet City

CNET Top 5
cnet-top-5-w

CNET Top 5

The Daily Charge
dc-site-1color-logo.png

The Daily Charge

What the Future
what-the-future-w

What the Future

Tech Today
tech-today-w

Tech Today

Latest News All latest news

Did a Week With the Apple Watch Make Me Use My iPhone Less?
240419-site-does-having-an-apple-watch-make-me-use-my-iphone-less-4

Did a Week With the Apple Watch Make Me Use My iPhone Less?

How Google Tests the Cameras in Its Pixel Phones
240417-site-google-pixel-lab-exclusive-1

How Google Tests the Cameras in Its Pixel Phones

Boston Dynamics' New Electric Atlas vs. Tesla's Optimus
240419-wtf-atlas-vs-optimus-v04

Boston Dynamics' New Electric Atlas vs. Tesla's Optimus

What is the Fediverse?
240418-fediverse-winged

What is the Fediverse?

The Missing Piece to Apple's Eco-Friendly Mission
240418-site-omt-the-core-problem-of-apples-green-goals-v1.jpg

The Missing Piece to Apple's Eco-Friendly Mission

First Drive in the All-Electric 2024 Fiat 500e
240417-site-fiat-500e-ev-drive-program-thumbnail-v3

First Drive in the All-Electric 2024 Fiat 500e

Most Popular All most popular

First Look at TSA's Self-Screening Tech (in VR!)
innovation

First Look at TSA's Self-Screening Tech (in VR!)

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: More AI at a Higher Cost
240123-site-samsung-galaxy-s24-ultra-review-4

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: More AI at a Higher Cost

'Circle to Search' Lets Users Google From Any Screen
circlesearchpic

'Circle to Search' Lets Users Google From Any Screen

Asus Put Two 14-inch OLEDs in a Laptop, Unleashes First OLED ROG Gaming Laptop
asus-preces-00-00-25-11-still003

Asus Put Two 14-inch OLEDs in a Laptop, Unleashes First OLED ROG Gaming Laptop

Samsung Galaxy Ring: First Impressions
samsung-galaxy-ring-clean

Samsung Galaxy Ring: First Impressions

Best of Show: The Coolest Gadgets of CES 2024
240111-site-best-of-ces-2024-1

Best of Show: The Coolest Gadgets of CES 2024

Latest Products All latest products

2025 Audi Q6, SQ6 E-Tron: Audi's Newest EV Is Its Most Compelling
cnet-audiq6

2025 Audi Q6, SQ6 E-Tron: Audi's Newest EV Is Its Most Compelling

Hands-On with Ford's Free Tesla Charging Adapter
pic3

Hands-On with Ford's Free Tesla Charging Adapter

Nuro R3 is an Adorable Self-Driving Snack Bar
240320-site-nuro-r3-first-look-v1

Nuro R3 is an Adorable Self-Driving Snack Bar

First Look: The $349 Nothing Phone 2A Aims to Brighten Your Day
240304-site-nothing-phone-2-first-look-v3

First Look: The $349 Nothing Phone 2A Aims to Brighten Your Day

Best of MWC 2024: Bendable Screens, AI Wearables and More
240229-site-best-of-show-at-mwc

Best of MWC 2024: Bendable Screens, AI Wearables and More

This Concept Laptop from Lenovo Has a Transparent Display
240225-site-lenovo-translucent-laptop-concept-v3

This Concept Laptop from Lenovo Has a Transparent Display

Latest How To All how to videos

Tips and Tricks for the AirPods Pro 2
airpods-pro-2

Tips and Tricks for the AirPods Pro 2

How to Watch the Solar Eclipse Safely From Your Phone
screenshot-2024-04-03-at-15-47-11.png

How to Watch the Solar Eclipse Safely From Your Phone

Windows 11 Tips and Hidden Features
240311-site-windows-11-hidden-tips-and-tricks-v2

Windows 11 Tips and Hidden Features

Vision Pro App Walkthrough -- VisionOS 1.0.3
VisionOS 1.0.3

Vision Pro App Walkthrough -- VisionOS 1.0.3

Tips and Tricks for the Galaxy S24 Ultra
240216-site-galaxy-s24-ultra-tips-and-hidden-features-2

Tips and Tricks for the Galaxy S24 Ultra

TikTok Is Now on the Apple Vision Pro
tiktok-on-vision-pro-clean

TikTok Is Now on the Apple Vision Pro