Electrification in the mobility sector will see greater benefits delivered to end users via intelligent components.
With automotive manufacturers such as Nissan planning to sell at least 1 million electric vehicles annually by 2022, and Audi set to reach 800,000 by 2025, it is clear that the electrification of vehicles is gathering momentum in the mobility sector. EVs are projected to account for 19% of the market by 2030, with full and plug-in hybrids accounting for 11% and internal-combustion- engine only and mild-hybrid vehicles the remaining 70%.
The introduction of many new models will require that the entire supply chain work together to address production challenges as well as face consumer skepticism head-on. In this complex landscape, one of the key challenges is convincing customers that switching to electric is a viable alternative.
Many are reluctant to forego the immediate convenience of conventional fuels for a wait of up to an hour to charge their car. As a result, in addition to researching and developing full-electric vehicles, manufacturers are providing options that offer intermediate steps on the road to full electrification.
Hybrid vehicles will be a key stepping-stone in the decade to come, as they provide a solid compromise between reliability, range and the need to provide customers with mobility options that are as close to zero emissions as possible. They are a good way for customers to transition, and the expectation is that the infrastructure and technology will evolve to provide a viable, fully electric alternative to ICE powertrains at affordable prices.
In terms of development, close cooperation between manufacturer and supplier is a must, particularly as the requirements at a component level can entirely differ for electric or hybrid vehicles. Many require special properties, such as electrical or thermal conductivity, and sealing solutions in particular are adapting rapidly to intelligently deliver greater benefits to the end user.
A perfect example of this can be found in sensor technology, which will be prevalent in electric vehicles due to its natural affinity with the power source. By using smart sealing solutions with sensors embedded, the integrity of the seal can be ensured and a wide range of activities within the vehicle can be monitored.
An integrated sensor could monitor or track functionality, for example, or other elements such as temperature, humidity or leakage – delivering data to the vehicle itself or to the manufacturer or driver.
Predictive maintenance and predictive analytics also will be possible, as the sensors within certain seals will be able to detect whether parts are wearing or are close to failure. This ensures their replacement can be scheduled before such an event leads to unscheduled downtime of the vehicle or even potential safety issues. This active data will be key to realizing the full potential of sensor technology, even to the point of monitoring certain elements of driver behavior.
As a result of this progressive trend toward electrification, working with a components supplier that has the experience and expertise to take on a co-engineering role – providing reliable support and input from conception to completion of a project – will be vital.
In doing so, the full potential of electrification can be realized, delivering more benefits to the driving public.
Andreas Minatti (above) is Head of Business Development for the Mobility unit of Datwyler, which he joined in 2010 with a focus on fuel & powertrain components.