Johnson Controls 48-volt lithium-ion micro-hybrid batteryEnlarge Photo
Public concerns over diesel cars, and their ebbing sales, have become a well-documented phenomenon in Europe after decades of popularity.
When the VW diesel scandal exposed deliberate cheating, and real-world testing revealed that virtually no diesels certified for sale actually met emission limits, automakers across the industry adopted rapid plans to electrify their vehicle lineups.
One immediate solution will be fitting 48-volt mild-hybrid systems to gasoline engines.
While affordable long-range electric cars and necessary charging infrastructure remain on the horizon, mild hybrids offer a way to meet increasing stringent EU emission standards—the ones diesel was supposed to comply with.
The 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show offered evidence of quicker-than-anticipated transitions to mild hybrids by many automakers.
After Volvo's announcement that it would electrify its entire portfolio by 2019, the list of makers and marques that pledged to do the same quickly grew, as detailed in a Reuters report.
Johnson Controls 12-volt lithium titanate batteryEnlarge Photo
Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, and more declared every one of their future cars would come with some form of electrification.
When automakers make these electrified promises, 48-volt hybrids are often at the forefront because they offer a cost-effective manner to boost efficiency by cutting fuel consumption at idle.
Mild-hybrid systems feature a larger starter motor that can recover braking energy to recharge the battery and send some additional power to the driveline.
The approach is implemented without redesigning essential components, since a car's standard 12-volt system pairs with the larger starter motor to handle the extra power.
Mild hybrids also offer an added bonus: they're $600 to $1,000 less expensive to build than an equivalent diesel-powered car.
Evercore ISI, a brokerage, believes by 2020 that 48-volt hybrid sales will outpace plug-in hybrids and battery-electric cars as mild-hybrid vehicles officially begin to replace diesel-powered cars as a de facto transportation choice.
Gas pumpEnlarge Photo
Furthermore, by 2025, 55 percent of all new cars sold will feature a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.
The hybrid systems arrive at an opportune time as well; the European Union will roll out its next round of emission cuts in 2021.
The EU will also introduce new "real driving emission" measurements to replace the current New European Driving Cycle tests, which do not reflect real-world driving behaviors accurately.
Next decade, individual countries will begin an aggressive offensive on fossil-fuel powered cars, too; Norway and the Netherlands plan to ban the sale of new cars powered solely by gasoline or diesel in 2025.