SAE WORLD CONGRESS: Now is the right time to purchase an electric vehicle, automakers say

DETROIT — To meet the future, companies are racing to meet stringent CO2 standards by improving to cut emissions and improve fuel economy.  These answers were addressed at the 2016 SAE World Congress held at Cobo Center in Detroit.  Hybrids, battery electric vehicles and hydrogen-based fuel cell vehicles continue to play a role along with the technologies that support these efforts.

Joel Maguire, Director of Electrification and Trends at Borg Warner announced that hybrid technologies offer affordability in price and great fuel economy such as greater than 45 miles per gallon.

“The modular battery pack is quiet and what customers want.  They also want consistent performance,” says Maguire.  “Cracking the code of battery electric cars is range.  We are on the cusp of solving range anxiety.  These vehicles appeal to 30 percent of customers about 80 percent of the time.”  Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV’s) are affordable, usually under $30,000 range.  Useable electric range is fast and fun.  It can go from 0-60 mph in less than seven seconds.

Urban fleets and car sharing has great use for BEV’s.  Fleet operations have very low maintenance, predictable operating costs, and off-peak charging.  “Technology behind that is a propulsion system and a battery system that’s fun like on the Volt,” adds Maguire.  “Affordability is a key element.  The cost of this propulsion system is higher but moving lower.  BEV range is no longer an issue.  Long range BEV’s will change the eMobility landscape.”

Kevin Layden, Director of Electrified Programs and Engineering at Ford Motor Company says, “I am highly confident there will be more electrified vehicles in the future.  Society, people have got the same idea, we got to use less fuel, so we got to get into electrification.” Fuel economy regulations will outpace technology.  Electrification vehicles have a clear role in the portfolio.

“Auto manufacturers have come a long way in improving fuel economy and reducing harmful emissions.  Ford Motor Company is making that commitment.”  There is a patchwork of incentives for electrified vehicles in several states and around the world.  As electrified system costs continue to decrease, cost of ownership becomes more and more attractive to the customer.  Hybrids will deliver more things that customers want. Customers want fuel economy, and performance that meets regulations.  “What’s not to like about that?”

Jackie Birdsall, Executive Engineer at Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America Inc., noted that at Toyota, we are just not a car company, we are a mobility company.  The move towards electrification is important.

“The Prius has a hybrid synergy drive train technology.  The new Mirai is a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and is the turning point as it plans on selling 30,000 vehicles by 2020. At Toyota, we are always looking to bring new value and technology for the future,” adds Birdsall.

Yasuyuki Sando, Senior Chief Engineer at Honda Research and Development explained, “Traveling is human nature.  Transport is in our DNA.  Honda has initiatives to expand environmentally friendly vehicles.  We are looking towards zero emissions with the development of hybrid electric vehicles (HEV’s) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV’s).  Expanding renewable energy reduces CO2.  Our Clarity fuel cell output is 103 kW, and motor output is 130 kW.  Filling time is only three minutes, and cruising range is 750 km. (about 466 miles).  The high efficiency package with the fuel cell powertrain is mounted under the hood.

Honda can extract electric power through hydrogen stations.  The technology for the two-motor hybrid system is i-MMD.  The advantage of this system is the CO2 reduction effect.  The PHEV has full use of a small battery.  Long drives can be supplemented with gasoline BEV’s, due to shorter range and longer filling time, and another vehicle may have to be used.

“In order to maintain joy and freedom of mobility while addressing global environment concerns, expanded use of renewable electric power while considering energy storage is critical,” adds Sando.

A question and answer session followed:

What will draw customers to drive electrified vehicles?

Larry Nitz, Executive Director at General Motors, answered: “Education is the key. Most people don’t understand the EV range, total range and customers don’t understand our marketing strategy.  Jackie added “The issue is just getting the customer into the vehicle.  Then they can appreciate the features of the electric vehicle.

How are you gonna change this?

Layden answered,  “My wife tried the electric Fusion and once you experience it, why doesn’t everyone have one?  The intimidation factor is huge.  It’s so easy and convenient.”



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