Vehicle Electrification Charges Ahead

December 01, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

The worldwide hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) market is expected to grow 100% in 2009. Passenger cars get a lot of the press related to these vehicles, but some of the better opportunities will be found in commercial, off-road and small, task-oriented vehicles. These developments are highlighted in a new global analysis from Darnell Group, "Vehicle Electrification: Market Forces and Demand Characteristics."

This report looks at both emerging hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) and plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV) electric propulsion technologies, along with trends in the battery chemistries used with them. It also examines some of the issues related to infrastructure development for PHEVs. In these cases, fleet managers and operators will be evaluating the costs and benefits of HEVs and PHEVs, so a cost analysis is also included in this study.

Five years ago, 99% of global hybrid sales were from the US, Canada, Japan, UK and France. Today, the hybrid market has spread to nearly 50 countries, with dramatic growth in the Netherlands, Greece and Israel. Nissan Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. foresee a big push by automakers to bring pure electric vehicles to market, predicting that 10% of all vehicles globally will be electric by 2020. Even with drops in fuel prices and the current downturn in auto sales, hybrids will continue to sell. The economic slowdown will translate to lower quantities because of a lower overall market base, but given the attention on fuel efficiency, the hybrid base demand will increase, according to automotive industry reports.

The Commercial/Fleet Vehicle segment is the most targeted application for vehicle electrification, particularly buses. Many companies are also going after the "heavy-duty" segments, which includes both Heavy Duty Trucks and Agriculture/Construction Vehicles. The most mature of the existing markets for electrification is the small, task-oriented vehicle (STOV) market (including Off-Road Utility Vehicles and Turf Care). The STOV market relies more on electric architectures as an alternative to internal combustion engines, such as golf carts and forklifts. The hybrid-electric bus market is coming out it its "emerging" status, with companies beginning to lock down contracts.

This comprehensive analysis also considers the direction of technology development and industry standards. Both of these areas are rapidly evolving and will have significant impact on the adoption rates and the commercial opportunities that develop for makers of HEV components, sub-systems, and systems.

Further information can be found here.