Many leading car audio brands are investigating offering amplifiers specifically tailored to electric vehicles (EVs).
EV sales are expected to triple by 2025. Leading industry members say by about 2026, you can expect the aftermarket will be widely focusing on audio products for these vehicles. And because different EVs have different battery voltages (one may be at 16 volts, another at 24 volts), suppliers are investigating offering amplifiers at different voltages to match the levels on different EV models.
Some dealers are beginning to specialize in EV audio such as SoundFX, based in Delaware. Tint World of Longwood and Orlando, FL, also works on a lot of EVs. Owner Pete Muller said, “We see more EVs show up every week in each store. They offer some challenges from the installation side. We’re looking to all vendors to provide new products that are vehicle specific, say to a Tesla Model 3. Those products are not here yet, but that’s what will drive those sales.”
Other 12 volt retail buyers told us they too are looking to suppliers to offer amplifiers that are designed to work with the different battery voltages in EVs.
For their part, 12 volt manufacturers hope the OEMs will agree on a standard voltage for EVs, (such as 24 volts, for example). They hope to see a standard within the next several years. Suppliers such as AAMP Global, DD Audio and JL Audio already make 24 volt amplifiers–AAMP does so for the commercial automotive markets in Europe, DD Audio for the aviation industry and JL Audio for marine applications.
DD Audio’s Kevin Doyle said “…changing a 12V product to a 24V is not a big deal at all and would actually decrease the manufacturing cost of the products…. Higher voltage lowers the need for amperage which in turn let’s designers use less materials to get the same power levels.”
KENWOOD and KICKER are also looking into EV amplifiers. “This is something KENWOOD has been researching and discussing for several years. There will be a time when we will have an entirely new set of products that will work with electric vehicles. It’s definitely something we’re actively staying on top of,” said Seth Halstead.
Joe Hobart, KICKER Director of Electrical Engineering said, “Currently there are two main problems we see when trying to integrate with an electric vehicle. The first is the voltage, as many car audio amps have an over voltage protection built in that activates somewhere around the 16v mark. As some EVs have a 15v-16v fixed rail it can cause these amps to go in and out of protection. ”
He added, “The second is these low voltage rails are current limited and if you pull too much current from them, it can set trouble codes and even cause issues with the vehicle. There are ways dealers are currently working around these issues, but we do see a time when we might need to make amplifiers with different input voltages and different design characteristics to make the most out of the energy available to us.”
AAMP Global’s Kevin Kuenzie said, ” I would expect if a different voltage requirement is needed for a specific vehicle type, AAMP would be able to address it.”
Then there is the possibility of an amplifier offering a switch to change from one voltage level to another.
Kuenzie said, “In regards to adapting to multiple voltage standards on one platform, [switchable voltage on a single product] it would be based on product type. Some categories we would be able to provide a selectable universal type application and some would require specifically designed product.”
For a glimpse of how many EVs will saturate the market in the near future, Consumer Reports lists the following:
Ford said half of its global sales will be in EVs by 2030.
Honda expects 40 percent of its lineup will be EVs by 2030.
General Motors will have 20 EVs in the US market by 2025 and all models with be electric by 2035.
About a third of Toyota’s global auto production will be fully EV by 2030.
Mercedes-Benz said its all-new vehicles from 2025 on will be electric-only.
BMW said it will bring a dozen new EVs to market by 2025.
In the meantime, some dealers are finding it hard to make the transition to working on EVs. Josh Mojica of GNC Customs, IN, explained, “People call and ask if we’ve ever worked on one [Tesla], we say no.” And then the customer moves on. “But sooner or later we’re going to have to bite the bullet,” he said.
Photo: Tint World Orlando