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November 4, 2009
New Automotive Standards

A few days ago, I discussed OptiFuse’s new 58 volt fuse offering.  Shortly thereafter, I received an e-mail from one of our customers.

"Jim, What does it matter if OptiFuse now has 58V fuses, cars still run on a 12V battery?"

An interesting question indeed...

Several months ago I was talking with a friend who is a Corvette enthusiast.  He explained to me that the electrical wiring of a new Corvette now weighed more than the engine due to all of the onboard computer and power systems requirements.

Vehicle manufacturers have wrestled with this problem for many years.  Back in the 1970’s the electrical power requirement for a typical car was 800 to 1500 watts.  Today, the electrical requirements have grown to 3000-7000 watts. 

Remember for a moment that power is equal to the voltage multiplied by the current (Watts = Volts x Amps).  If the power requirement triples and the voltage remains constant, the current must also triple.

If you now triple the current, you must also increase the wire size.  A #16 AWG wire can readily handle up to 15A whereas it takes a wire size of #8 AWG to handle a 45A current.  The weight and cost of a #8 wire is typically three times more than that of the #16 wire.

If there was a way to lower the current requirements, then the weight and the cost can also be reduced. 

Now the best (and really only) way to reduce the current requirements is to increase the system voltage (in order to keep the same power).

Recently, a consortium of 20 leading automotive manufacturers along with MIT was created (unfortunately no fuse company including Bussmann or Littelfuse was invited to join this consortium).  The consortium supports the conversion of the current 12V system to a new 42V system although there are some competing factions who are trying to raise the voltage standard even higher.

The advantages of the new 42V system are many:

  • Lower wire costs due to smaller wire gauges
  • Smaller / less expensive electrical connectors
  • Reduced overall vehicle weight
  • Improved fuel efficiency
  • Reduced auto emissions
  • Better vehicle handling
  • Reduced road noise and vibration
OptiFuse manufactures a complete line of higher rated fuses to meet the new standards of the vehicles or day and the future.

Thank you again for your continued support of OptiFuse as we help to provide our customers not only what they need today but also what they need in the future

Jim Kalb


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