Wired Down – The University of Washington Increases Consumer Acceptability

The University of Washington (UW) EcoCAR 2 electrical team’s main goal for Year 3 is to make the vehicle’s high and low voltage wiring systems both more serviceable and more compact. The electrical team lead, Brian Magnuson, comments, “Our goal is to have zero time troubleshooting in the pits and move directly into Safety Technical Inspection at the competition.”

The UW electrical team works on their vehicle

The UW electrical team works on their vehicle

The electrical team took two junction boxes (one for distributing negative voltage and one for distributing positive voltage) and consolidated them into one high voltage junction box. This junction box distributes power from the energy storage system to all the high voltage components on the vehicle. Installing the box was a several step process: first, the available cable routing paths throughout the vehicle were planned out to maximize accessibility. Next, the team sourced all the parts including lugs, standoffs, fasteners, cord grips, heat shrink and copper bus bars. Then the team removed the old junction boxes and installed the newly manufactured box, while maintaining as much cable length as possible within the vehicle to minimize replacement.

Junction boxes provide a safe way to distribute power to high voltage components, such as the team’s electric motor and inverter system. Consolidating two junction boxes into one drastically improved consumer acceptability by moving most high voltage wiring out of the trunk. The new design put all the components in one compact package instead of two, which increased trunk space and allowed for easier servicing of the high voltage distribution system. These enhancements are important for advancing consumer acceptability, serviceability, and safety. “We are very dedicated to quality of the work put forth,” Magnuson commented. “We don’t want human error to cost extra maintenance time during the competition.” The electrical team will continue to refine the systems until the final competition in June.

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