A potent example of our journey from racetrack to road, the Automotive Motor Power Unit (AMPU) builds on our many years of experience in developing inverters using advanced materials to achieve low weight, high efficiency and race-winning power in Formula 1 and Formula E, the revolutionary all-electric racing series.
The inverter sits at the heart of the electrified powertrain, acting as the control junction between the battery and the motor, transforming DC (Direct Current) voltage from the battery into an AC (Alternating Current) supply for the electric motor, for which the inverter also fulfils all the necessary safety functions.
McLaren Applied’s AMPU is a next-generation inverter using silicon carbide (SiC) technology which enables us to increase the switching frequency significantly, therefore allowing the use of faster, more efficient and lightweight motors. Optimised switching methodology increases efficiency and further reduces mass, giving greater range and improving car performance.
Silicon carbide is a highly durable crystalline compound of silicon and carbon, resistant to high temperatures and offering high electrical conductivity. This enables a step change from traditional semiconductor technology, which loses more energy as heat during the power-conversion process. Silicon carbide inverters offer considerable efficiency gains versus conventional inverters based around silicon semiconductors because they produce less heat and are less temperature-sensitive, and therefore have lower cooling demands. They also occupy a smaller form factor, making them ideal for use in electric vehicles.
The AMPU is intended for automotive as well as motorsport applications, and conforms to all the relevant automotive industry standards including ISO26262 and ISO6469 while retaining a class-leading power-to-weight ratio.
It’s a simple case of mathematics: greater efficiency improves range, cuts charging times and can reduce the cost of batteries – key virtues that can provide a race-winning advantage in motor sport and drive customer uptake of electric vehicles in the wider automotive space.