APC discusses its Automotive Technology Roadmap

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As socio-political needs move quicker than ever, APC predicts a shift to whole-life environmental regulation and increased fragmentation of powertrain strategies

“After decades of evolution, vehicle technology is now at an inflexion point, changing faster than at any time in the last 100 years. That presents a tremendous opportunity for British businesses,” said Advanced Propulsion Centre CEO Ian Constance.

“This new analysis will help investors, innovators and government understand which technologies need to be developed as we drive at increasing speed to low-carbon transport, helping them make the decisions that will ensure the UK remains a global player in 2030’s US$1tn global market for low- and zero tailpipe emission vehicle technologies.”

As well as providing insight into the innovations required to deliver a step-change in vehicle emissions, APC predicts fundamental changes that will have a dramatic impact on the way automotive innovation is planned an evaluated. The most significant of these is the move from vehicle-level regulations to a focus on end-to-end sustainability.

“Most future powertrain options require substantial battery capacity, but the environmental impact of these systems cannot be controlled through traditional vehicle-focused regulation,” explained the APC’s head of technology trends, Dave OudeNijeweme.

“This means a different approach to decision making is required, even before we consider trends in the availability of raw materials. The Roadmap will be of value to decision makers across many sectors, providing insights into areas of growing complexity and illuminating the impact of new business models such as mobility as a service.”

With 10% of UK manufacturing automotive, supporting the commercialization of high-impact innovations will help British businesses – from technology innovators and suppliers to vehicle manufacturers – grow profitably in a fast-changing global market.

“Through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, we are able to facilitate investment of £1bn (US$1.3bn) of government and industry money to help British businesses validate and commercialize their innovations. New technologies disappear because the UK has traditionally lacked the market pull innovators need to bridge this most challenging phase of innovation,” added OudeNijeweme.

As would be expected, the electrification of future powertrains will feature prominently, but “this should not be confused with a prediction of mass adoption of full EVs,” emphasized OudeNijeweme.

“What we see is the rapid introduction of a diverse range of electrification technologies, including mild hybrids, full hybrids, plug-in hybrids, fuel cell electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles. Clearly the majority of these still rely on internal combustion engines so continuing advances in that area remain important.”

Growing electrification presents new approaches for internal combustion engine design. While some vehicle manufacturers will achieve ultra-low emissions by developing increasingly sophisticated IC engines, others may choose to simplify engine design by focusing on optimization of a narrow operating region.

This will enable greater levels of synergy between the ICE and powertrain electrification and permit further optimization of the engine, such as the use of novel combustion cycles.

Very high levels of integration are also predicted in electric drives, with the e-machine, transmission and power electronics coming together to create a single, lightweight, tightly-packaged and lower cost unit with greatly reduced complexity.

“These units operate in an exceptionally demanding environment that is a great example of the critical importance of ‘automotive grade’ to ensure durability,” noted OudeNijeweme.

“Part of the role of the APC is to help innovators from outside our industry understand these requirements and to set up programs and partnerships that lead to the exceptionally robust yet lightweight and affordable technologies our industry excels at.”

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