Powertrain Electrification Challenges
Why sustainable transport has become an imperative, and what challenges are being faced to develop "greener" systems.
With global CO2 levels rocketing up to 403.5 parts per million, an estimated 53 million people dying per year for toxic emissions, and temperatures steadily increasing as a result of green-house-effect, in the automotive propulsion field something’s-gotta-give.
If the future of the automotive industry is spelt out so clearly, what is keeping companies from defintively shifting towards greener technologies?
When talking “electrification”, the challenges engineering offices are tackling can be summed up as follows: mileage autonomy, weight reduction and cost-benefit ratio for the consumer.
With low fuel consumptions and emission levels in mind, producers aim at elongating the CHARGE LIFE of electrical propulsion system, as much as possible. Of course in a hybrid technology, when the electrical system’s charge dies, the traditional propulsion system can be activated. But switching to ICE propulsion too frequently, would defeat the object, wouldn’t it?
This is why producers are working on ENERGY RECOVERY SOLUTIONS, like regenerative braking ones.
The battery in itself is also an area engineers are looking into, both to limit the aging deterioration (which over time reduces capacity) and develop longer-range-batteries. The objective being to provide a decent electrically generated mileage for the driver, even in extremely cold days, when low temperatures reduce range.
That said, longer range batteries are going to be bulkier and heavier…which brings up the next challenge: WEIGHT REDUCTION. A bigger battery may well increase mileage, but at what “weight” expense? Companies from the sports car market, using hybrid powertrain technologies to further enhance vehicle performance will obviously be greatly concerned by vehicle weight too.
Last but not least, let’s talk about COST-BENEFIT RATIO in the B2C market. Hybrid vehicles are still more expensive than traditional vehicles. Rational consumers will purchase at a higher price, only if and when there is a proven ROI over time, determined by savings on fuel expenses, for example.
Cost is another point mass consumption automotive companies are still struggling on, mainly because of high-performance, high-capacity battery unit’s production expense.
Electrification may well be an imperative, but it’s not an easy challenge to meet…