CAMBRIDGE, U.K. – Sales of internal-combustion and hybrid powertrains are poised to collapse within 20 years, a U.K. emerging-technology research consultancy predicts.
Claiming expected advances in electric-vehicle technology will be a game-changer, IDTechEx predicts all other powertrain options will start to be squeezed out of the marketplace by 2036.
Its report, Future Powertrains 2016-2036, suggests emissions legislation and end-user costs will be the main drivers of this radical shift.
The consultancy cites EVs’ success in the small-utility market where the technology has become the norm for electric bicycles, mobility for the disabled, scooters and even e-rickshaws. Other examples of EV success include indoor forklifts and electric airport ground-support equipment such as aircraft tow trucks.
The report notes officials with Terra Motors of Japan told IDTechEx it is importing 500,000 3-wheeled micro-EVs yearly from China, while in India, the ICE 3-wheeler replacement potential is over 5 million. The Philippines, with 3.2 million motorized “tuk-tuks” facing replacement due to extreme pollution, has announced it soon will put 1 million EVs on its roads.
The report suggests the real shift will begin with the imminent introduction of 48V mild hybrids (http://tinyurl.com/ztua26u) that use small combustion engines and are set to replace many conventional ICE engines and non-plug-in hybrids.
For the future, the report looks toward the dawn of energy-independent vehicles such as those using solar power. It points to examples including the Immortus car currently fundraising for manufacture in Australia, as well as the NFH-H tourist microbus already on sale in China.
Both rely on large, unusually efficient areas of photovoltaics for power and nothing else. Indeed, the tourist bus is available “without a battery in ultra-light ‘lizard’ mode, waking with the daylight.”
IDTechEx Chairman Peter Harrop, author of the report, tells WardsAuto: “True electric vehicles are going to be the winners in the end. The date you can argue about, but in the meantime there will be winners and losers, different from the past, and those players who keep up and pay attention will do very well while it will be a brutal shake-out for those who do not pay attention.”
Harrop says the disruption of the global automotive industry will see several preconceptions associated with current powertrain innovations being overturned.
“I have never known an industry where everything is changing, and that is what electric vehicles are doing,” Harrop says. “If you go to Imperial College in London you’ll see cars that store electricity in their bodywork – one thing doing two jobs is the way forward.”
Fuel-Cell Technology Already Headed for Obsolescence?
Even fuel-cell technology will succumb to EVs requiring no infrastructure by being able to self-generate power, whether through solar or wind energy or a combination of both, he says.
Fuel-cell technology using energy-burning processes will face the same legislative emissions constraints as ICEs and alternative power systems will not help it either.
“Fuel-cell technology using solar energy to create electricity to then make hydrogen to then make electricity for the car? C’mon!” Harrop says. “The process, laid in series, loses some 50% efficiency even before it reaches the vehicle. What really is interesting is the NIV (energy-independent vehicle). You can see these in use right now.”
He cites the example of billions of dollars invested by NASA, Facebook and Google and others in EIV airships and airplanes able to stay airborne for five to 10 years, and estimates the impact of this powertrain will become a $250 billion business in 20-30 years.
“There are cars being designed that, when parked, have a little propeller pop up to generate quite a lot of energy as a wind turbine,” Harrop says. “So multiple energy harvesting will be the name of the game, and the endgame is not vehicles that are simply electrical but ones that are energy-autonomous.
“It’s an autonomy marriage made in heaven with the vehicle doing the task and navigating by itself while also being autonomous in creating its own power – a truly elegant and exciting endgame.”