Industrial Automation

Why EV Cable Selection Matters in Electric Vehicle Manufacturing  

Mike Shen
In electric vehicles, signal transmission, power supply and driving control are impacted by the quality of the EV cables you choose.


The electric vehicle (EV) industry has seen leapfrog development over the past few years.


In 2023, there were 14.2 million new EV cars delivered, which is an increase of 35% compared to 2022. In comparison, light vehicle sales increased by only 11% from 2022 to 2023.


Adopting vehicles that run on pure electricity or hybrid power greatly reduces oil consumption, decreases greenhouse gas emissions, protects the environment and provides consumers with cost-effective product choices.


The advancements happening in the EV industry not only promote the elevation of the automotive manufacturing industry, but also drive technological progress and development in many related fields, such as artificial intelligence, semiconductor chip manufacturing, information communication, data storage and processing.


As the EV market continues to make significant progress, more customers will choose to drive EVs.


But along with the rapid development of EVs comes something critical not to overlook: the importance of EV cable selection and application.


Inside the Internal Makeup of an Electric Vehicle


The internal system of an EV consists of three modules:

  • A computing unit, which includes the processor and computing platform to support human-machine interaction and path planning

  • Sensors to monitor visuals, speed and environmental factors, along with satellite positioning systems and laser/millimeter wave radar, to provide data for computing units

  • A wire harness and wire control system made up of various power supply cables, control cables and communication cables to provide power, signal and data transmission to support driving control and multimedia entertainment


Because computing units and sensors act as the brain and facial features of EVs, their importance is evident and often top of mind for consumers and practitioners in the automotive manufacturing industry. When it comes to wire harnesses and wire control systems, however, these systems may not be as deeply understood—and may even be seen as an opportunity to reduce production costs.


But this is a dangerous misconception.


3 EV Applications Where Cable Quality Matters

Acting as the EV’s nervous system—the transmission medium between data collection and processing—wire harnesses and wire control systems are critical in EVs as compared to traditional vehicles, especially in these three areas.


1. Signal Transmission

In traditional-fuel vehicles, signal data transmission occurs through communications cables for radio, reverse radar or rearview images. These features do not have a crucial impact on vehicle drivability or safety. Even if cables are damaged, are broken or have poor anti-interference performance, the consequences are often limited to lack of wireless radio signals or blurry reverse images.


In EVs, however, the number and importance of communication cables have greatly increased. To connect various sensors, such as radars, positioning antennas and cameras, multiple RF coaxial cables or Ethernet cables are installed to connect sensors and provide real-time data for the computing unit.


If the signal-transmission reliability of these EV cables is not guaranteed, then the lack of real-time positioning, route planning and even distance and obstacle identification will cause accidents that can have fatal consequences. Therefore, strict standards are required for EV cable specifications, including material selection, product quality and electrical performance.


2. Power Supply

Traditional-fuel vehicles usually have either a 12V or 24V battery installed to provide power to the vehicle engine, as well as to lights, air conditioning and multimedia systems.


Therefore, low-voltage cables are usually applied, and their quality and reliability requirements are not as high. For EVs, electricity is the core energy source. With consumers’ demand for longer-distance driving from a single charge, the voltage requirements for the EV battery pack and motor have significantly increased. Today, 800V and 1000V are mainstream configurations, and 1200V will soon be put into use. The possibility of short circuits and vehicle self-ignition caused by quality issues with EV cables has also significantly increased.


Therefore, the voltage resistance, current-carrying capacity, heat-dissipation performance and stability requirements of power cables used in EVs are much higher than those of traditional-fuel vehicles.


3. Driving Control

Traditional-fuel vehicles use hydraulic and mechanical transmission modes and do not require a wire control system. In future EVs, the wire control system will be mainly composed of a drive-by-wire, brake-by-wire and steer-by-wire, replacing traditional mechanical connections and hydraulic/pneumatic auxiliary devices.


The development of wire control technology, especially the maturity of wheel edge motors and hub motors, will have disruptive performance improvements:


  • Braking response speed will be faster, shrinking from the 100-millisecond level of mechanical braking to the 10-millisecond level of motor braking. At the same time, control accuracy will be higher, greatly improving the safety performance of EVs.

  • The structure will be simple and compact. By using soft cables instead of hard transmission components, interior space can be increased by 20% to accommodate more battery packs, while reducing the difficulty of internal design and the wear of hard components, saving production and usage costs.

  • Transmission efficiency will be higher, and the combination of motor and flexible cable mode will replace the mechanical transmission shaft, greatly reducing the friction loss between mechanical components. Operational efficiency will be increased by about 10%, which enables EVs to achieve a single charging range of over 1,000 km.


Count on Belden for EV Cable Solutions

With the continuous development of automotive electrification and intelligence, the importance of cables as a medium for signal data and power transmission is also increasing. Choosing high-performance EV cable products will greatly improve the performance and safety of electric vehicles.


As a well-known cable expert, Belden has over 120 years of experience in cable design and production and has provided cable solutions for many well-known domestic and foreign automobile manufacturing enterprises.


If you need help selecting EV cables to integrate into your manufacturing process, then we can help.


Learn more about our industrial automation solutions.


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