Navigating the E-Mobility Industry

While electric drivetrains are definitely here to stay, some OEMS are starting to emphasize the performance and driving experience of these electric vehicles above the fuel economy - an interesting takeaway from the SAE Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies symposium in La Jolla, California that I attended last week.

It is important for us to go to events like this to hear the many different perspectives and opinions about where the market is trending. Since it is often hard to find one consistent message, I take bits and pieces of what I learn and share with my team to help drive business decisions.

Here are some notable findings that were presented at the conference:

  • While vehicle electrification is here to stay, so is the internal combustion engine.  The ICE will continue to be a part of the powertrain landscape for a long time coming. It is likely, however, that the ICE design will continue to adapt and complement the electric drivetrain technology.
  • Start and stop systems are gaining traction in the industry, with lead acid batteries expected to have a solid share in this market in the near term.
  • Recent trends indicate that sales of mild and moderate hybrids are flat while the sales of strong hybrids are enjoying relatively strong growth.  That's a trend we'll keep our eyes on.
  • Nickel metal hydride and Lithium ion batteries are expected to continue to be the favored energy storage solutions for most hybrid / electric vehicles in the foreseeable future.  Advancements in alternative technologies, like lithium sulfur batteries, have potential to be longer term solutions.
  • The overall cost of the battery pack, power electronics, and other components remains a key factor preventing electric vehicles from being more cost competitive with traditional ICE vehicles.
  • Developing the infrastructure for plug-in vehicles was a topic that received considerable attention.  There were interesting presentations covering topics ranging from consumer' charging habits to DC fast charging and dynamic wireless charging.

This conference provided additional confirmation that there are and will remain to be many different ways to engineer an electric drivetrain. This means we need to have a holistic understanding of various vehicle systems to stay ahead of the game.  For my team, it will be important to continue taking a systems approach to our development efforts.

Mike Scarpati E-Mobility Industry Manager at BASF Corporation Mike Scarpati is the e-mobility industry manager at BASF Corporation. He is responsible for leading the cross-business unit team that examines industry trends and develops material solutions that will position BASF as the leading supplier of chemistries within the e-mobility market.