It’s no secret that vehicle air conditioning systems require a significant amount of energy in order to operate. On hybrids and electric vehicles, the problem is more acute since in many cases the systems draws power from the vehicle’s battery pack, restricting range and further taxing the battery and electrical system.
In an effort to help combat these issues, Denso has developed an in-line electric cooling compressor initially being used on new Ford electrified vehicles that places the inverter inline with the motor instead of above it.
According to Denso spokesperson Bridgette LaRose, the new design will also be appearing on other brand electrified vehicles yet in the pipeline, but she was not at liberty to name them prior to their official launch.
So what is this improved compressor about, and why should electrified vehicle owners care? In short, it is said to yield a cascade of benefits including that the unit is lighter and quieter than previous models. The compressor retains the same cooling capacity as Denso’s existing units, but is more efficient, thus it draws less power from the electrical system. For EVs, this means more traveling range when the air-conditioning system is operating.
Similarly, for hybrid vehicles its efficiency means less reliance on the internal combustion engine to provide A/C system power, thus reducing energy consumption and emissions.
Besides cooling a vehicle’s cabin, the compressor also provides much needed cooling for vehicles’ lithium ion battery packs (in the case of liquid-cooled batteries), improving peak performance, range and longevity.
The new compressor made its global debut on the 2012 Ford Focus Electric and will also be incorporated on the 2013 Ford Fusion and C-Max Hybrid and Plug-in Energi models.
It’s the latest in a development of electric compressors first introduced by Denso in 2005 that incorporate an inverter to drive the built-in motor. Because it uses miniaturized, simplified circuits and higher density mountings yielding significantly reduced physical size, it helps reduce vehicle weight while improving under hood accessibility.