Fleet electrification

Fleet electrification

Driving automotive electrification

A wide variety of electric and hybrid cars are already available in automakers’ showrooms. Yet a strategic Ricardo white paper argues that if automakers are to meet their targets for environmental and commercial sustainability, further innovations will be necessary in both electrified powertrain technology and in product development processes.

The global automotive industry is in a period of profound and unprecedented change. Reeling from the aftershock of the VW ‘dieselgate’ scandal, and with tough new regulations on real driving emissions (RDE) and fuel economy beginning to bite, the industry needs to make urgent progress in improving its environmental impact. Indeed, the trend towards electrification of the new vehicle fleet is already well underway, with a vast array of hybrids and battery electric vehicles taking their place in the showrooms alongside more conventional products, many of which now boast mild or micro levels of hybridization such as stop-start.

But while this change appears to be setting the right direction for environmental sustainability, two key questions still arise: are the volumes of electrified powertrain vehicles sufficient to deliver the targets set by regulators?

And can this be achieved while also ensuring the life-blood of profit that the automakers require for their own longterm survival?

These are just some of the issues that Ricardo has set out to address in a strategic white paper, Driving Automotive Electrification, published in June 2017. Bringing together the perspectives of the company’s vehicle technology and market forecasting experts from the technical and strategic consulting teams as well as from Ricardo Innovations, Ricardo Energy & Environment and Ricardo Software, the paper sets out a vision for the future of powertrain electrification.

“Our aim in publishing this paper was to go beyond the sometimes simplistic extrapolation of market demands and technological trends that are the basis of so many projections for the future of the automotive industry,”

 Steve Sapsford, Ricardo director of business strategy

“We wanted to look at a deeper level at the costs and economics of market demand, and question how electrification can be driven into massmarket segments. To achieve this, as we have shown in our paper, will require a much more value-driven proposition than is reflected in the electrified products of today.”

A valuable contribution to the debate on electrification

Uncertainty still surrounds the specific powertrain electrification solutions likely to be favoured by the major markets over the coming decade and beyond. Against this background, the white paper Driving Automotive Electrification is intended as an objective contribution to the debate as to how this challenge can be met. As Ricardo’s chief operating officer Mark Garrett concludes: “Powertrain electrification will require a wide range of potential solutions that enable reduced CO2 emissions and air quality targets to be achieved. However, manufacturing and development costs remain a key challenge. In our paper, we present our vision as to how these challenges can be overcome in a manner that can deliver on both environmental and commercial sustainability goals. “I hope that other members of the auto industry find this a useful contribution to the debate on the future of powertrain electrification and encourage other experts to add their contributions to this informed debate.”

Read the full article in RQ Q3 2017