Automotive executives foresee a big future for plug-in hybrids over the next five years but are less bullish on the future of pure EVs, a new study says.
Asked to name the "electric vehicle technology that will attract the most consumer demand" in a KMPG International survey, 36 percent of auto execs chose plug-in hybrids, while only 11 percent cited battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). The results reflected a sharp change over the past year, with plug-in hybrids rising by 15 percentage points while BEVs dropped by five during that time.
"There's a consensus developing that the plug-in hybrid is probably the best long-term way to go," David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), told Design News. "Plug-ins offer stop-start and regenerative braking. They also get their power from the grid and don't have the range issues that pure electrics have." Cole noted that CAR's studies have shown trends similar to those cited by KPMG.
KPMG's study, "Global Automotive Executive Survey 2013," showed that automotive managers are more inclined to invest in plug-in hybrid technology than in pure EV batteries. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they were considering big investments in plug-in hybrids, while just 8 percent said they see battery technology as a focus of large investment.
Cole, who is in close contact with auto industry engineers, said the study reflects what automakers have gradually come to understand -- that pure electrics are a smaller niche, while plug-in hybrids present an opportunity for a larger market share. "To people inside the industry, this has been clear for a few years," Cole told us. "We've seen annual sales between 23,000 and 24,000 for the Volt, and they're still rising. On the other side, Nissan Leaf sales are down."
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the study, however, may be the fact that the internal combustion engine remains a strong option in the minds of auto executives. Eighty-five percent of the respondents in the KPMG survey considered downsizing of the IC engine as their best chance for fuel efficiency and emissions gains over the next decade. That's particularly so in such countries as China and Brazil, where much development money still flows toward conventional powertrain technology, the study said. It's also the case in the US, where Ford Motor Co. recently announced availability of a one-liter engine targeted at the worldwide market.
Such trends could be a sign that newer powertrain technologies are taking longer than expected to emerge, according to KPMG: "The results show an increasing realization that the electric vehicle is not quite the savior that many had hoped for."
Cole concurred that the internal combustion engine is still considered the best bet for reaching the CAFE mandate of 54.5 mpg by 2025. "We won't be writing the epitaph for the internal combustion engine for a really long time. It could be around for 50 more years."
@Charles: the way to compensate for the less energy per unit volume of CNG is to put more of it in the tank, often by means of going to a higher pressure. Instead of 2000 PSI, use tankes that run at 5000 or even 10,000PSI. One other possibility that I have not seen implemented is getting that gas to do some work as it expands, prior to combustion. Running the alternator with a turbine driven by the gas as it drops from the very high tank presure to the 300PSI injection presure is an interesting option.
Another option is reforming the natural gas mix into propane, which can be a liquid at more reasonable pressures. That may not be as easy as I wish, but it would work.
William, you obviously have never really looked under the hood of a car in the last 30 years if you think that an electric is more complicated than an ICE. about 5 moving parts vs. hundreds, and electronics on every system of that engine, all controlled by a computer. Talk about electronics? I once diagnosed a fuel supply problem in a JEEP grand cherokee. There were 5 different electronic devices involved in simply delivering fuel to the engine, and that wasn't including the injectors themselves and the electronics involved in gettint just the right mixture of gasses in each chamber. Your old fashioned desire to stick to old technology is not fooling anyone who is actually visiting reality. You fool very few with your constant drooling over antiquated technology.
Ever driven an electric golf cart? Do you think they need complicated drivetrains... Nope. They don't have gears at all. Will they go fast? Yup. (without a governor, they are incredibly and dangerously fast) I commonly drive golf carts, with only a few lead-acid batteries in them 15 miles on one charge (2 rounds). Granted... it's not Li with complicated cooling (which is not that complicated only). But it shows the simplicity of electric.
And... Don't put words in my mouth, I never said anything about a 25 mile electric, you (William K) just say that as smoke and mirrors to try and support and un-supportable point.
***The future of cars is H2 and fuel cells. Simple... clean... renewable... fast.
You can argue about batteries all you want, but I will take a tank of H2 and drive farther on one tankful using a fuel cell, than anything that takes gas of any form. This is the future, and the technology is here today.
I do agree with William K, in that high pressure is the way to carry more energy, but it should be H2 we are compressing in our vehicles for energy. Also made, is a good point about Americans and there overall challenge with mechanics like pumping gas. Devices are being designed with this in mind, to make it easy for people to 'pump' H2 gas into thier cars. It can be done, and is being done in Norway and Europe where they have re-fueling stations that... get this... humans actually manage to use these refueling stations on a daily basis.
AND... get this... you can run H2 gas in your ICE!!!!
Just change the timing to just after top dead center and run a new fuel line and mount an H2 canister where the gas tank used to be. You can still have your antiquated technology with hundreds of moving part and electronic devices and computers, and no one will care, because you will have the repair bills, and your car will spit out water instead of noxious fumes.
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