A Hybrid and Fuel Cell Vehicle Future? 2002-01-1908
There is much interest and debate on which advanced vehicle technologies will be common in the future. Public expectations seem to be running high with great promise of non-polluting, high efficiency vehicles. For the vehicles to reach high volume production though, the characteristics of these vehicles will need to meet customer demands for price, performance, driveability and comfort. The ideal propulsion system solution may well be different for the various vehicle applications (SUV, passenger car, city bus) as well as in different world markets. Currently there appears to be a significant divide between the benefits of hybrid vehicles and the incremental price consumers may be willing to pay. This raises the question as to what type of hybrids will be seen on the roads in the future. This paper reviews the future advanced vehicle concepts and focuses on the probable prime candidate for near term mass market - the mild hybrid. The various advanced vehicles are compared from the current purchasing standpoint of vehicle fuel economy and likely incremental cost. Other customer requirements are discussed. The concerns about vehicle price outweighing the benefits to the public at large seems valid. The Mild hybrid may have the potential to provide the right cost-benefit balance in the short term, until the prices of full hybrids and fuel cell vehicles comes down significantly.