Jaguar Land Rover has opened a new test center to ensure its latest generation of power-hungry electric cars won’t mess up TV screens and smartphones.
The new facility in Warwickshire will ensure electronics are protected from its cars and vice versa, a growing challenge as battery-powered vehicles connect to more and more data. The new Range Rover Sport, which launched earlier this year, was the first vehicle to undergo the tests, blasted with 4G, 5G, WiFi and GPS signals to ensure it could cope.
For most people, the memory of a passing car turning a television screen into static electricity will be distant, but the phenomenon is likely to return because of electric vehicles.
Electric cars are more susceptible to radio wave interference because they operate at higher voltages with more current, which can provide a stronger electromagnetic field.
Jaguar Land Rover’s Peter Phillips said: “Electric vehicles are much more difficult” due to the higher electrical power they handle.
“If you have an electric vehicle today, you take your electric vehicle home, you plug it into your charger in the garage, what you don’t want while the car is charging is that it causes interference with the radio or television at home,” he said, adding that without testing, plugging in a lawn mower while your car is charging could also turn off the charger.
Aside from the higher voltage issues, the range of sensors and safety devices added to all cars – combustion and battery-powered – is another challenge. Cameras, radars and other sensors must be free of interference to function.
“Automation is part of it,” Phillips added. “Some radar systems on cars operate on the electromagnetic radio spectrum, standalone adaptive cruise control has radar in front of the car.”
Automakers must adhere to strict rules to be able to sell their cars in most markets and comply with the law.
But beyond the legal grounds, automakers want Bluetooth and WiFi working in their cars so drivers can listen to music, receive calls while driving, and get live map data.
In practice, strict regulations have made it possible to start and run a car without disturbing a neighbour’s enjoyment of a television program, but the rapidly changing nature of electric car technology makes testing cautious.
Jaguar Land Rover plans to make the Jaguar range fully electric by 2025 and phase out petrol around 10 years later. The company is the UK’s second largest car manufacturer.