Electric vehicle startup Faraday Future (FF) applied for more than 100 patents over the last year and today it confirmed having been granted its first one. The patent covers a new assembly process for FF’s power inverter called “FF Echelon Inverter.”
The inverter is surprisingly small (see comparison pictures below) and FF claims it achieves 20-30% greater power density than their competitors’ applications. The company didn’t name any competitor in particular, but Tesla’s Model S inverter has a peak power capability of 320 kW.
The FF Echelon Inverter was developed by the startup growing in-house engineering, which we extensively covered in the past, and led by Senior Director of Electric Drive Silva Hiti.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Hiti holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech. She developed systems for GM’s EV1 and spent most of her career leading electric power conversion controls at the automaker, before joining Faraday around the time of its inception in late 2014.
The company tried to reduce the mechanical complexity of its inverter, keeping only the its essential elements, and working their way up from a new architecture. Hiti on the challenge:
“Condensing the number of transistors and other complex components enhances the inverter’s overall stability and dependability allowing us to accomplish far more, with fewer materials.”
Here are both FF’s and Tesla’s inverters:
Tesla manufactures its drive inverter in-house at its Fremont factory, but the company is reportedly using proven off-the-shelf insulated-gate bipolar transistor packages.
It is a different approach, but not necessarily a bad one.
Power electronics market analyst Alex Avron was quite surprised after testing the Model S P85D and finding out what power inverter technology Tesla is using:
“They used 20 years old power module packaging technology to build the fastest electric luxury car on earth. It’s that simple.”
Along with Hiti, Young Mok Doo and Steven Schulz are also named as inventors on Faraday Future’s first patent. They also both worked on the EV1 program and spent most of their respective career working on electric drive systems at GM.
FF unveiled its first concept car earlier this year at CES and the startup is currently trying to overcome some challenges in order to build a $1 billion electric factory in Nevada and bring its first car to market in 2017.