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In the wake of the diesel vehicle emissions scandal, electric and hybrid electric vehicles are sure to make further inroads in the market, especially in Europe, where diesel-fueled vehicles account for around 35% of the fleet. So BASF's announcement that it is expanding its range of engineering plastics for the dynamic EV and HEV market couldn't be more timely.

September 30, 2015

2 Min Read
Electric vehicles call for tailor-made engineering plastics

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Engineering plastics portfolio is tailored for use in EVs and HEVs.

Tailor-made Ultramid polyamide (PA) and Ultradur polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) materials are now available globally for equipping vehicle interior and exterior high-voltage plug-in connectors with precisely fitting characteristics. The special PA and PBT grades reportedly meet the demands on flame retardancy, color stability, mechanics and electrical isolation. They therefore allow automotive manufacturers to save on weight and installation space around the battery and at the same time help to improve safety in e-mobility.

One example is the connectors for hybrid and electric vehicles which TE Connectivity (Schaffhausen, Switzerland) has developed from various Ultramid PS grades for numerous automotive companies in close collaboration with BASF. "Components for battery-powered vehicles are evolving all the time, and each automotive manufacturer has special requirements", says Wolfgang Balles, responsible at TE Connectivity for product development hybrid and electric mobility. Franz Janson, head of Global Resin Material Platform at TE, adds: "That is why for us, as a company that operates globally, it is vital to have a cooperation partner like BASF with which we can find the ideal combination of material and part. This is the only way that we can deliver safe and reliable components to the mass market."

The high-voltage connectors can be identified by their typical orange color (color masterbatch from BASF Color Solutions). The light-colorable PA used is color stable and resistant to thermal aging. Particularly in the sensitive range of high voltages the color coding of the individual components is safety-relevant: It needs to remain highly visible for at least ten years.

BASF optimized the connector locks using its simulation tool Ultrasim: Ultrasim precisely predicted the lock-in behavior of the component in processing and in use, enabling savings in production time and costs.

Ultramid and Ultradur grades pass the test according to the tighter IEC standard 62196-1 and the glow wire test according to IEC 60695-2-11 - at 850°C for parts made from isolating matter which holds conducting parts, and at 650°C for all other parts made from isolating matter. The materials for plug-in connectors close to the battery are resistant to high temperatures as well as coolants and incorporate flame retardants when required. They make for low-warpage, tight and creep-resistant parts. The materials used for plug-in connectors in the charging system are noted among other things for their flame retardance, impact strength and creep resistance as well as excellent isolation properties. The portfolio also includes plastics which contain halogen-free flame retardant and comply with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS).

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