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Electronics are critical to today's vehicles

Electronic systems have become all-encompassing in the automotive world. There is not a modern car, truck, commercial or agricultural vehicle that does not have electronic systems at the heart of their design. It is now common to find that electronics represents around one-third of the value of the vehicle - even more in some prestige models - and this has a major impact on how the vehicle works.

So many of the functions of a vehicle are dependent on electronics that a failure of the electronics system means the vehicle is simply unable to work. The effects of such a failure can range from the simple inconvenience for a car driver, the costly stoppage of an industrial plant or, for vehicles working in critical roles such as the emergency services, the difference between life and death.

To complicate matters further, these electronic systems are required to work in everyday situations that are actually extremely harsh. Extremes of temperature, shock and vibration, water and dust can all contribute to the failure of an electronic system. At the same time, the demand for increased functionality in today's vehicles are driving a growth in capabilities, and a consequent trend to pack more into smaller space. This means that the demands placed on individual components are high.

The electrical connections that passive components depend upon are particularly vulnerable. Automotive components are subject to vibrations that can vary widely from low- to high-frequency, depending upon their location within the vehicle. In addition, the shocks generated by travelling over rough roads, or even just the slamming of a door, can place large acceleration loads on solder joints. Finally, there may be differential expansion generated by extremes of temperature.

All of these factors can contribute to severe strains on solder joints, potentially leading to their mechanical failure. In turn, this may result in intermittent shorting or the complete failure of the electrical circuit, rendering the system inoperative.

Our friends at KEMET are manufacturers of a wide range of passive components. They have been investigating the design of the termination of their multi-layer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) to minimise the effects generated by the bending of the printed circuit board (PCB). They have created a white paper that explains the benefits of introducing a conductive-epoxy layer, whilst investigating the layer's effects on the electrical characteristics of the capacitor. Click here to read the full white paper.

The white paper is an example of the commitment shown by KEMET to providing passive components that can meet and exceed the demands of the modern automotive industry, as exemplified by the AEC-Q200 standard that certifies components for automotive use. KEMET's range of passive components are ideal for a wide range of automotive applications:

  • Safety - ranging from passenger restraint systems, anti-lock brakes and lane-detection systems to the latest trends in driverless vehicles.
  • Powertrain - engine management systems and electric motors and the latest kinetic energy recovery systems.
  • Infotainment - systems including driver controls, in-car entertainment, information systems and navigation displays.
  • Electric & Hybrid vehicles - battery and energy management systems.


Connector Geek is Dave in real life. With 29 years in the industry, Dave still likes talking about connectors almost as much as being a Dad to his two kids. He still loves Lego too...

3 Nov 2016, 13:39