Since 1997, the VDA has been looking into questions relating to higher vehicle electrical system voltage to meet the growing power demand of modern motor vehicles. The first deliberations assumed that a 42 V system would be possible. Ultimately, however, a 48 V system will shortly find its way into new vehicles. The technical equipment in motor vehicles is changing constantly and very rapidly. Many functions that were once mechanical have been converted into electrical functions in recent times. The increasing electrification of motor vehicles means that 12 V batteries have now reached the absolute limit of their capacity, however. That is why carmakers and their suppliers have now developed a 48 V electrical system. Braking energy recovery and stop/start systems are the driving forces between this 48 V technology, which has the ability to transfer more energy to consumers.
The 48 V electrical system also provides a basis for hybrid power systems. Its greater kilowatt output allows implementation of functions such as electric starting, boosting, stop-start driving in traffic jams, parking and efficient energy recuperation to be implemented. Many systems cannot be electrified properly without this higher voltage, for example air-conditioning systems, active chassis controls, high-performance heating systems or an electric turbocharger. This will not only increase the efficiency of vehicles, but also their comfort and safety levels. The mass production of the first 48 V partial electrical system is expected to start in 2015, initially in upper segment cars. With its manufacturers and suppliers, the VDA has prepared VDA Recommendation No. 320 on the standard development of a 48 V electrical system.