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Energy independent vehicles: the biggest market to come

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By Julien Happich

In the coming decades the improvement and choice of land vehicle powertrain will mainly be dictated by emissions conformance at best cost/ performance compromise, not independently performance, cost and fuel economy as in the past, explains IDTechEx’ Chairman Dr Peter Harrop.

And as laws tighten and technology improves, upfront cost, cost of ownership and resale price issues are likely to favour pure electric vehicles over conventional ICE or hybrid solutions, Harrop expects. Pure electric is already the norm for most small land e-vehicles such as electric bicycles, mobility for the disabled, scooters, e-tuktuks, e-rickshaws and other micro EVs, such as “quadricycle” homologation in Europe, he notes in the report.

Taking indoor forklifts, electric airport ground support equipment (GSE), but also three-wheeled micro EVs as examples, IDTechEx’ Chairman observes that many microcars are jumping directly from ICE to pure electric.

But the real findings of this report is the arrival of new powertrains including 48V mild hybrids (MH) (set to replace much conventional ICE and non-plug-in strong hybrid) and energy independent vehicles (EIV), the ultimate goal for an emission-free future.

Powertrain options for land vehicles
Source: IDTechEx Research report, “Future Powertrains 2016-2036

The Immortus car currently fundraising for manufacture in Australia is an example of an EIV as is the NFH-H tourist microbus already on sale in China. Both rely on unusually efficient, large areas of photovoltaics for power and nothing else. Indeed, the tourist bus is available without battery in ultra-light lizard mode, waking with the daylight.

EIVs may be headed to a multibillion dollar business in 10-15 years, according to IDTechEx, mimicking the EIV airships and planes that stay aloft for 5-10 years, already the subject of billions of dollars investment by NASA, Facebook, Google etc. today.

EIV powertrain impact will be huge from enabling the developing world and remote communities to defense. EIV land vehicles could be a $250bn business in 20-30 years, according to the new report.

The world record breaking Nuon Solar Team from the Netherlands, with their solar racers crossing Australia fastest, has already spawned five startups and other solar racers have set records for photovoltaics and motor efficiency on land vehicles. Meanwhile, we are moving from range anxiety to range excess with PEVs as we await “unlimited” range of EIVs, Harrop notes.

At the other extreme of making existing ICE powertrains have three electric modes – silent take-off, creeping in traffic and maintained-speed “active” coasting – are the 48V mild hybrids.

It is the lowest cost route to an electric vehicle at the larger C and D sizes of car and larger vehicles such as vans, trucks and buses. Following first series production in 2017, and even then not yet in EV form, it is possible that 48V mild hybrids will peak at over $250bn in yearly sales before pure electric takes over because currently they look to be the only low cost way that manufacturers can meet the tough 2030 emissions legislation with minimal hassle, not because they are a “poor man’s EV”, though that will help to sell them as will the fuel economy.

The report reviews a number of disruptive technologies that could affect the future powertrain landscape, and finally looks at various car market evolutions depending on which business models regulation could favour. IDTechEx Research gives ten year forecasts for EVs, hybrid and pure electric, in 46 categories and runs various scenarios.

One of them could see a collapse in sales of both conventional ICE and mild hybrid as mainstream pure electric vehicles take over when they are the most attractive and affordable option in the view of most mainstream buyers.

Visit IDTechEx Research at www.IDTechEx.com/powertrains

 

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