German automaker pushing the boundaries of shock protection hazard limits
With the increase of electrical components and their thirst for more power, Audi is playing with boosting the voltage for certain electrical subsystems.
Instead of relying on existing 12V systems, which carry lots of amperage and need heavy gauge cables, Audi is looking to create an additional 48V system for use by electric compressors and dynamic chassis control components.
The 48V system is instrumental in the first component mentioned – the electric compressor – as it can force air into the engine without causing parasitic load on the engine itself. It can also be run independently of engine speed.
However, these 48V systems do cause a problem in that spikes in voltage could possibly go above the 60V shock-hazard protection limit.
In the 1990s, automakers agreed to move away from 12V systems and toward 42V systems, but little effort was made to implement the new standard. 42V was specifically chosen so ripples in voltage wouldn’t go above 60V.