21st Century Powertrain: electrification, fuel and future – APRIL 2017 UPDATE

Technical trends and developments in the 5 major powertrain technologies of the 21st century. Updated for April 2017 with new analysis, discussion of events and developments in the past quarter, and revised outlook to assess their likely impact.

UPDATED: The quarterly research update adds analysis, discussion of events and developments in the past quarter, and a revised outlook to assess their likely impact. Topics covered include the current state of review of the US 2022 – 2025 CAFÉ standards, impact on EV sales of conservative US politics, as well as a summary and full results of the 2017 Autelligence Future of Powertrain Survey. 

Non-linear improvements in computer power have caused profound disruption in many industries. In automotive, a lot of attention has been focused on smart cars and connectivity.

But a huge disruption is already happening in powertrain development, driven by the electronic control units (ECUs) in light duty vehicles, as they improve and engineers learn how to use them.

The 21st century powertrain is an integrated and jointly developed combination of IC engines, batteries, transmissions (sometimes), generator/motors and complex control systems.  While these hybrids started out as a specialist choice, most automakers agreed that electrification of most powertrains will occur to some degree by 2025.

So, electrification will become the new normal. The question is how much electrification.

“21st Century Powertrain: electrification, fuel and future” examines the impact of these developments on the five major elements of the future powertrain:

  • Internal combustion engines
  • Transmissions
  • Control Systems
  • Batteries
  • Electric Motors

The report looks at technical trends and developments in each of these areas, and projects how those trends might develop by 2025 to 2030. It establishes the consensus view about developments, and then challenges it with Key Uncertainties, Trends and Potential Disruptors.

Each chapter summarizes these for each of the technology areas, and then pulls them together into plausible, alternate scenarios to the central outlook to help planners “bookend” the best and worst cases.

What is unique about this report?

Building on a series of in-depth studies of different powertrain technologies, as well as Autelligence surveys of experts, this report aims to offer a wider perspective on a cluster of the key issues around the consensus that has built up on the path of powertrain development in the automotive industry in the next decade.

The report is also more than a one-off download – includes strategic analysis of 12 key companies in the sector and quarterly updates of development in powertrain electrification completed, analysed and written by the report author.

Key strategic questions addressed

The report addresses four key strategic questions, the answers to which will determine the near term future of automotive powertrains:

  1. What is the probability that the emissions and fuel economy regulations projected for 2021 through 2025 will remain as currently envisioned? If they change, in what direction?
  2. How important is fuel price among the pressures put on automakers, compared with other issues? What is the likelihood that fuel prices will remain at the relatively low levels of 2016?
  3. How will battery prices develop? How close is $100/kWh?
  4. What is the likelihood that a significant technical disruptor will be introduced in the next few years – significant enough and early enough to challenge the industry’s consensus view for 2030?
  5. What is the likelihood that the current trends in powertrain developments will achieve their goals if no technical disruptor emerges?

More about Autelligence

About Us
Report Methodology

Other recent Autelligence powertrain reports:

Gasoline spark ignition engines: trends and emerging technologies
Turbochargers and superchargers – major trends and the future of forced induction
Fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen capacity – developments, technology and infrastructure
Emerging technologies and market trends in automotive transmissions
Engine development – transformation and opportunity

Chapter 1: Introduction 6

1.1 Consumer attitudes count 6
1.2 Scenarios and developments – the Consensus View 7
1.3 The shape of technical disruptors and innovations 9
1.4 Key questions, uncertainties, and trends 10

Chapter 2: Overview of market drivers and regulatory requirements worldwide 11

2.1 Criteria and GHG emissions 12
2.2 Fuel economy 14
2.3 Test cycles – the day of reckoning 17
2.4 Fuel availability and affordability 20
2.5 Plug-in sales 24
2.6 Government incentives – its effect on automakers 25
2.6.1 California 26
2.6.2 China 26

Chapter 2 Summary – forecasts and uncertainties 27

Chapter 3: Gasoline engine developments for light duty vehicles 29

3.1 Better fuel economy, more soot 30
3.2 Technology map – a quilt, not a blanket 31
3.2.1 Potential disruptors and innovations 32
Chapter 3 Summary – forecasts and uncertainties 34

Chapter 4: Diesel engine developments for light duty vehicles 36

4.1 Technology – strengths and weaknesses 36
4.2 Growth constrained by high diesel fuel prices and demand 37
Chapter 4 Summary – diesel forecasts and trends 38

Chapter 5: Electric battery storage 40

5.1 Background and batteries – development progresses 41
5.2 Economics and price – is $100/kWh valid? 43
5.3 Battery progress and projections 46
5.4 Battery suppliers 48
5.5 Potential disruptors and innovations in energy batteries 48
5.6 Charging a battery 50
Chapter 5 Summary – forecasts and uncertainties for electric battery storage 51

Chapter 6: New business models and user acceptance of electric vehicles 52

6.1 Mobility as a service 52
6.2 Personal BEVs, fun tempered by range 53
6.3 Synthetic fuels 55
Chapter 6 Summary – forecasts and uncertainties 55

Chapter 7: Trends and projections – a scenario approach 57

7.1 Common assumptions 58
7.2 Low Tech Scenario – less technology and electrification than the Consensus View 58
7.3 High Tech Scenario – accelerated development of high tech combustion and electrified technologies 59

Appendix A: Powertrain systems overview 61

A.1 Electrification of the powertrain 63
A.2 Technology and architectures 64

Appendix B: Transmissions for light duty vehicles 69

B.1 Types of transmissions – terms of reference 69
Appendix B Summary – forecasts and uncertainties 70

Appendix C: Electric drive system developments for light duty vehicles 72

C.1 Electric motors 73
C.2 Power electronics 74
C.3 Integrated units 74
C.4 48V hybrid developments 77

Appendix C Summary – forecasts and uncertainties for electric traction drive systems 78

Appendix D December 2016 Quarterly Research Update: 

Likely impact of the Trump election
Potential revisions of the 2025 US CAFE standards
New analysis of likely developments in battery costs

Appendix E April 2017 Quarterly Research Update: 

The US 2022 – 2025 CAFÉ Standards: Finalized and then – again – up for review
EV Sales up worldwide as conservative politics in US dampens incentives
Black Swan Alert – the Opposed Piston Engine
2017 Autelligence Future of Powertrain Survey

Company profiles 79

BorgWarner 79
Bosch 81
Continental 83
Delphi 85
Eaton 87
Hitachi Automotive Systems 89
Honeywell 91
Magneti Marelli 93
Ricardo 95
Schaeffler 97
Valeo 99
ZF Friedrichshafen 101

Table of figures

Figure 1.1: In a survey conducted by Morpace, the conventional ICE engine remains consumers’ number one choice, followed closely by hybrids and GTDI as second and third 7

Figure 1.2: Data presenting Continental’s Powertrain Outlook for Global private and light vehicle engine production through 2024, referred to in this report as the Consensus View 8

Figure 2.1: The need to harmonize conflicting demands on automakers is the challenge today 11

Figure 2.2: Summary of regulations, timing of important worldwide criteria, and GHG emissions regulations 12

Figure 2.3: Vehicle criteria emissions standards worldwide tend to follow various versions of either European Union or North American/United States regulations. This chart shows worldwide the known conformance roughly to EU standards. 13

Figure 2.4: Why Chinese regulations matter – the Chinese market is now the largest in the world and expected to stay that way 14

Figure 2.5: A concise view of the fuel economy challenges as stated in 2014 by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles 15

Figure 2.6: Uncertainty remains in future fuel economy/CO2 regulations in the US, because of the “midterm evaluation”, where regulators and automakers will map out future feasibility 16

Figure 2.7: Cars are tested using fixed dynamometers on specific schedules on rolling, or chassis, dynamometers. Their emissions are measured over the cycles. 18

Figure 2.8: An example of a test cycle conducted on a chassis dyno, this is the proposed worldwide, harmonized test cycle as of 2013 18

Figure 2.9: Portable emissions measurement systems will be a key element in RDE test 19

Figure 2.10: The US Energy Information Agency (EIA) projects gasoline prices in North America to remain well below $4/gal through 2025 in its 2015 Annual Energy Outlook in the Low Oil Price Scenario 21

Figure 2.11: Sales of HEV vehicles sold and marketed in the USA as HEVs wax and wane, in concert with inflation adjusted fuel prices among other factors 22

Figure 2.12: The Innovation Diffusion curve is well accepted approach to understanding the demographics of potential users 23

Figure 2.13: Fifteen years after introduction, HEVs have not broken out of the demographic group that are willing to try anything 24

Figure 2.14: Worldwide sales of EVs and PHEVs increased through 2015, led by China and Western Europe 25

Figure 3.1: Efficient turbocharged gasoline direct engines, GTDI, make engines more efficient over a wider range of loads and speeds, improving fuel economy 30

Figure 3.2: Note the vast differences in take rates for various engine technologies by region predicted by IHS Automotive by 2020 31

Figure 3.3: Ricardo advocates incremental costs towards achieving needed improvements in fuel economy 32

Figure 3.4: Steady improvements in fuel consumption per unit of horsepower is shown 35

Figure 4.1: ExxonMobil projects that commercial transport will drive future fuel demand, driving up a demand for diesel 37

Figure 5.1: This illustration shows the inner workings of a lithium-ion battery 41

Figure 5.2: Notional diagram of battery operation for the three recognised modes of electrified powertrains, illustrating why batteries are oversized 42

Figure 5.3: Specification for commercialising a suitable battery for an electric vehicle 43

Figure 5.4: Using basic assumptions, $100/kWh provides cost parity to a fuel efficient passenger car in North America 44

Figure 5.5: Using the same cost model using average electricity prices in Germany and $250/kWhr seems a reasonable cost for battery storage to achieve price parity with gasoline passenger cars 45

Figure 5.6: Current status of energy batteries against end-of-life goals as evaluated by USABC and USCAR in December, 2015 46

Figure 5.7: One research group, Lux Research, predicts battery prices falling into the $200/kWhr range by 2025 47

Figure 5.8: General Motors revealed its cost per kWh for cells and their projected glide path to 2022 47

Figure 5.9: Motivation for pursuing advanced electric batteries – the potential to rival gasoline energy density 49

Figure 5.10: According to Bloomberg, automotive traction battery costs could potentially bottom out at $100/kWh by 2025 through 2030 50

Figure 6.1: With an appropriately sized battery for a range of 150 miles, a BEV costs less to operate than a comparable ICE powered car 53

Figure 6.2: Data compiled by General Motors indicates that greater than 70% of potential EV buyers would be satisfied with a BEV that had a range greater than 200 miles on a single charge 55

Figure 7.1: Continental’s vision of a light duty market dominated by conventional powertrains by 2025 is commonly held in the industry, within certain parameters (reformatted), in millions of units worldwide 57

Figure 7.2: A variant chart from the Consensus View of light duty powertrains based on a scenario with drivers that favor lower technology powertrains, in millions of units worldwide 59

Figure 7.3: An aggressively optimistic projection of electrified and high technology light duty powertrain distributions as a variant on the Consensus Model, in millions of units worldwide. 60

Figure A.1: Conventional powertrain systems have a single source of energy and torque, generated from an internal combustion engine transferred via the crankshaft 61

Figure A.2: According to BCG, improvements to powertrain – especially engines – outweighs all other potential conventional improvements automakers could make 62

Figure A.3: Generalised torque/speed curve. All ICEs, particularly gasoline, exhibit BSFC maps like this with worse efficiency under low, or part load. 63

Figure A.4: MY 2014 vehicle production that meets future US CAFE CO2 emissions targets, from 2016 to the proposed 2025 targets, according to data from the US EPA 64

Figure A.5: An example of some of the most common architecture models for “full” HEV systems 65

Figure A.6: This chart from Continental is good way to view the various options of electrification, from simple start-stop to a full electric vehicle, in terms of fuel economy at the point of use 66

Figure A.7: Comparison of idealised torque curve for an electric motor and an ICE engine, showing how they complement each other 67

Figure A.8: The decision landscape between electrification and conventional improvements to meet future fuel economy and CO2 regulations 68

Figure B.1: Global transmission sales (millions) projected to 2020 70

Figure B.2: The differences in the number of speeds in an automatic planetary gear transmission means the engine will operate more frequently at its most fuel efficient load/speed point 71

Figure C.1: The basic electric drive traction system, here shown as part of a hybrid electric system 72

Figure C.2: GKN Automotive showcased its new eTwinsterR torque-vectoring electric drive system for hybrid vehicles 75

Figure C.3: ZF’s electric drive system positioned centrally on the axle is also available as a unit fully integrated into a new modular rear axle concept 76

Figure C.4: Some in the industry are using the term ‘P4 Hybrid’ to describe the electrified axle configuration 76

Figure C.5: Continental predicts that saving fuel increases with each level of integration. Energy management can make more comprehensive use of an ICE and electrical energy 77

Table of tables

Table 2.1: Forecasts of key market driver questions summarized with probabilities assigned 28

Table 3.1: Forecasts of key engine technology questions summarised with probabilities assigned 35

Table 4.1: Forecasts of key engine technology questions summarized with probabilities assigned 39

Table 5.1: Approximate recharging times per SAE for PEVs and BEVs 51

Table 5.2: Forecasts of key battery electric storage questions summarised with probabilities assigned 51

Table 6.1: Summary of potential disruptors 56

Table C.1: Essential elements of electric traction drive systems 73

Table C.2: Essential elements of electric traction drive systems with “stretch” 78

Author: Bruce Morey
Publisher: Autelligence
Published: April 2017
Pages: 120
Format: PDF

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What the industry is saying

“Gone are the days when a gasoline engine and a transmission designed independently would meet a customer’s expectations. Today’s customer is demanding unprecedented technology integration that requires unprecedented engineering and supplier partnerships.” Dan Nicholson, Vice President, GM Global Propulsion Systems

“With many automotive markets worldwide, e-mobility is still a niche market. However, this will quickly change when lawmakers introduce stricter international emissions limits in the coming years.” Jörg Grotendorst, Head of the ZF E-Mobility Division

“Electrification has to come to Europe to meet tougher emission standards and the diesel is going to pay the highest toll. This will cause huge challenges for automakers and suppliers because they will need to change their powertrain manufacturing infrastructure.”  Stefano Aversa, deputy chairman, AlixPartners


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