Everything you need to know about the new automotive USB Type-C connector and why you should definitely integrate it into your vehicle.
USB is a term that we are all familiar with and has become an integral part of everyday life. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or PC – all electronic communication devices have a USB connection. Currently, USB Type-A is the most common type of connector. However, the new generation USB Type-C is rapidly advancing and will soon replace its predecessor. The automotive sector will follow accordingly, and convert all its customer interfaces to the USB Type-C standard – all in the very near future.
Do you want to prepare your vehicle for the future and are looking for a multi-functional automotive connector system, which can be used to transmit data rates of more than 10 Gbps and charging currents of up to 5 A in your vehicle?
We have developed the ideal solution for you. In this article, you will find all important information about the new connector system, what you need to consider when integrating it into vehicles, and why it is an absolute must-have in the vehicle of the future.
Structure of the new automotive connector system
Switching to the new connector generation USB-C in vehicles is absolutely necessary. What if you could benefit from the versatility of a USB-C connector system with all its possibilities – data and charging – in vehicles?
This led to the idea of using an established connector from the entertainment electronics area and developing it into a robust connector system for automotive use: the new USB-C connector C-KLIC. The most important adaptation of the tried-and-tested connector system was the additional housing design with a coding and locking function as well as the optional installation of a CPA.
Thanks to its high-quality specifications of the USB organization – with more than 10,000 mating cycles and a high number of pins – the selected USB-C connector seemed to be the perfect choice. On top of data and power supply, the high number of available contacts enables additional functions such as lighting and temperature monitoring. A coded housing additionally allows the use of all 24 pins specifically (proprietary), as the flip function of the connector is omitted.
The feature of the modular structure of the whole connector is the option to connect a variety of cables via a small, individually adaptable circuit board, and thereby provide different functions. The big advantage of this connector system is its multi-functionality: whether the focus is on data transmission or power supply – the connector and the accompanying interface are always the same.
Thus, you only need to release one single connector, while still offering multiple functions in the vehicle. In addition, the connector component on the circuit board (PCB header) remains unchanged. This provides savings on potential modification costs.
Applications – C-KLIC, an absolute all-rounder
With the USB-based connector system, you can focus on the new “USB Power Delivery” charging technology and the USB 4.0 data transmission capability (up to 40 Gbps). You also have the option to transmit data independently of USB via standard protocols such as PCIe or Display Port. Thanks to the modular structure of the system, you can fully utilize its flexibility and versatility and realize a wide variety of applications in different combinations. Find out more about the possible applications below.
Use Case 1: focus on power
With this application, you utilize the USB Power Delivery technology. This allows the provision of up to 100 W (5 A @ 20 V) for charging mobile end devices in the vehicle. At the same time, it offers your customers a USB 2.0 data transmission rate of up to 480 Mbps.
Due to the high power transmission rate (5 A) and data functionality, we have developed an optimized cable for these purposes. To enable the longest possible transmission paths, the voltage drop (ground drop) is limited along the cable length. Our optimized cable ensures a maximum ground drop of 80 mV/m.
Thanks to this concept, data and power can be transmitted over an extended cable length. This allows you to save installation space in the dashboard by replacing a relatively large USB-C module with a compact USB-C female connector in the form of a customer interface.
You can move the charging electronics that are usually installed in the USB module and generate high power loss (heat) in a nearby control device, which supplies the USB-C customer interface with power. In most cases, control devices have more available space and heat can be dissipated more effectively.
Thus, you can save installation space of up to 60 % in the dashboard, while easily solving temperature issues as well (build-up of heat due to power loss).
Use case 2: focus on USB data
With the second application, you can transmit data up to 10 Gbps based on the USB protocol. For this purpose, a special cable with four differential data pairs (four lanes) is used, in order to transmit the corresponding data protocols and data quantities.
Thanks to the numerous available contacts of the USB-C connector system, you can realize Multi-Gig data, as well as other signals and features such as USB 2.0, CC communication or lighting. The optional USB alternate mode standard also allows you to transmit image and video data. Thus, an additional video interface can be saved. Already available USB alternate modes include HDMI, Display Port, MHL or Thunderbolt – which have already been integrated into the USB 4.0 specification.
By integrating all mentioned functions in only one connector, you save considerable installation space on your circuit board, as there is no need for a variety of additional connector components for data or power. This also delivers cost savings.
Same functionality on both sides
Use case 3: focus on data, not based on USB
The C-KLIC system also supports data transmission not based on USB in the Multi-Gig range. Thanks to the four differential high-speed data pairs, you can execute standard data protocols such as PCIe, Display Port, HDMI or Ethernet applications. Therefore, the C-KLIC connector system can be used in the multimedia area and it can also be integrated into the on-board power system. Point-to-point connections between two control devices can easily be realized. Specially adapted cables with appropriate pin assignments for your individual transmission path can also be realized at any time (proprietary applications).
As a developer working for an automotive manufacturer, what do I need to consider when integrating the connector into vehicles?
First, you need to release a new connector system. However, this doesn’t take too much effort. The qualification and preparation of the documentation is 100 % on the supplier´s side (i.e. ours), since being a long-term supplier of the automotive industry, we have a detailed knowledge of the requirements. In addition, you can use the connector for various applications, thanks to its multi-functionality.
We can provide components (PCB connectors, etc.) and cables for test installations at any time, to support you with the integration process in the vehicle through preliminary tests. These tests can be conducted by our highly qualified employees in our accredited in-house test lab.
Four reasons why you should definitely integrate C-KLIC into your vehicle
- USB Type-C is the new global USB standard and will soon replace the USB Type-A connector. Thus, its use in vehicles is absolutely inevitable.
- With only a single release of the new connector system, you can offer multiple functions at once and work with only one and the same connector.
- Thanks to the individual pin assignment and the use of different released cable variants, you benefit from a freely configurable, scalable system. A large variety of available contacts enables additional functions such as lighting, temperature monitoring or control signals at any time.
- The fully shielded system meets all the requirements for the future and, alongside USB-based transmission protocols, offers a wide range of additional data transmission standards for Multi-Gig applications.
Summary & conclusion
The connection between smartphones and vehicles is becoming more and more technically sophisticated. Current specifications include power supply with 5 A and up to 20 V, data rates of well over 1 Gbps or other signal types such as alternate modes in an ever-shrinking installation space. These requirements can only be met with a flexible, parameterizable solution that provides an application-specific number of high-performing pins. At the same time, there is an urgent need for the miniaturization of components. The intelligent combination of an established consumer connector with an automotive housing design results in a USB Type-C connector system that presents an ideal solution for future vehicle generations.
FAQs on C-KLIC
The system was designed and optimized for the USB 3.2 Gen1 standard. Additionally, higher transmission rates of up to 10 Gbps are also possible. This also enables the transmission of protocols such as PCIe or Display Port.
No, in principle most standard protocols up to 10 Gbps and higher, such as PCIe or Display Port, can be considered. Automotive Ethernet can be realized under certain conditions.
Yes, when using C-KLIC a maximum current of 5 A at a voltage of up to 20 V can be transmitted. Thus, connected devices (tablet PCs, smartphones, etc.) can be supplied or charged.
Yes, there are PCB variants with 90° (horizontal) and 180° (vertical) design. These variants can be processed using the pin-in-paste technology.
Yes, all common codings according to the automotive standards can be realized in the prescribed colors (as required).
No, this function is omitted due to the coded housing suitable for automotive use. Thus, all 24 pins of the connector can be used specifically (proprietarily).
Transmission lengths of up to 8 meters could be already realized with suitable chipsets.
Yes, there are handling instructions available. Please find them under the following link.