A control system for an electric or hybrid electric vehicle includes a vehicle system controller and a control circuit having an electric immersion heater. The heater is electrically connected to the vehicle's high voltage bus and is thermally coupled to a coolant loop containing a heater core for the vehicle's climate control system. The system controller responds to cabin heat requests from the climate control system by generating a pulse width modulated signal that is used by the control circuit to operate the heater at a duty cycle appropriate for the amount of cabin heating requested. The control system also uses the heater to dissipate excess energy produced by an auxiliary power unit and to provide electric braking when regenerative braking is not desirable and manual braking is not necessary. The control system further utilizes the heater to provide a safe discharge of a bank of energy storage capacitors following disconnection of the battery or one of the high voltage connectors used to transmit high voltage operating power to the various vehicle systems. The control circuit includes a high voltage clamping circuit that monitors the voltage on the bus and operates the heater to clamp down the bus voltage when it exceeds a pre-selected maximum voltage. The control system can also be used to phase in operation of the heater when the bus voltage exceeds a lower threshold voltage and can be used to phase out the auxiliary power unit charging and regenerative braking when the battery becomes fully charged.
The Government of the United States of America has rights in this invention pursuant to Subcontract No. ZCB-3-13032-01 under Prime Contract No. DE-AC36-83CH10093 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy.