Barriers to Designing Electric Vehicles

red electric vehicle plugged into charging station

The automotive industry is on the fast track to improving e-mobility—the development of electric-powered drivetrains is predicted to shift vehicle design away from the use of fossil fuels and carbon gas emissions.


Regulatory groups and governments are making the push for the growing e-mobility movement. Incentives such as priority parking and tax breaks indicate the trend is on the rise and is being taken seriously by consumers and automotive manufacturers. With incentives like these and the exigence of clean energy and fuel costs, why haven’t electric vehicles taken a sweep of all vehicle line ups? 


Several technical barriers are preventing electric cars from being the majority of transportation on the road, including range, battery performance, and cost. 


Increase Range

Current battery technology struggles to meet consumer's expectations of range and charging time. Traditional combustion engine vehicles today can drive around 400 miles before needing to be refueled. Electric vehicle range is improving—most EVs can travel over 100 miles, with some models reaching ranges of over 300 miles. And while refueling a conventional car takes only minutes, battery models can take 3 to 12 hours to charge. In best cases, some fast-charging models can reach 80% capacity with 30 minutes of charging. These improvements are promising, but the necessary modifications will take significant time and resources to accomplish. 


electric volkswagon golf with thermal results


Understand Environments

Electric vehicles also face challenges among extreme temperatures. Batteries are like Goldilocks; they only function optimally in the right environment. Too hot or too cold, and the battery's performance will fall short. In cold climates, a battery's performance can decrease by as much as 40%. 


Create More Price Points

In most markets, EVs are still considered luxury vehicles and can be more costly than traditional cars to purchase. But, studies show that electric vehicles may be a better deal in the long run with accumulated savings on fuel and maintenance. If consumers can swing the initial price tag for an EV, they may see savings. 


Electric vehicles are also poised to make up more of the market in years to come. More models will undoubtedly mean a wider variety of price points to choose from, making purchasing decisions less arduous for prospective buyers. 


As many OEMs have stated, they will roll out new electric models in the years to come. As they do, engineers are creating solutions to these challenges for EVs to become a more significant percentage of the market. 


Overcome Challenges Using Simulation

To successfully bring new electric fleets to market, engineers must attempt new approaches to discover solutions to these challenges without blowing budgets and production timelines. Using simulation, they can validate solutions before creating costly physical prototypes. 


thermal simulation rendering of battery pack


Simulation also allows engineers to understand how the different subsystems are affected by the design changes made in another system. For example, if changes are made to the HVAC system, that could mean a more significant draw of energy from the battery. An advanced simulation technique enables engineers to know what trade-offs will take place so that they can optimize the entire system.


Advanced simulation techniques will also take environmental data into account and help engineers predict the range of EVs for various driving scenarios and climates. 


Despite the advantages of new design practices, some OEMs are struggling to keep up. If companies continue with "business as usual," they will fail to be competitive as others will create better products, test them under various conditions, and optimize for all systems while still getting to market faster.


When engineers utilize full vehicle simulations, they can create innovative solutions faster while remaining on schedule and budget. 


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