In August 2016, Delphi pronounced the end of 12V.
It has reached the end of the road, according to Mary Gustanski, Delphi Automotive's vice president of engineering and program management. IDTechEx has detailed such a roadmap in its 2016 report,Mild Hybrid 48V Vehicles 2016-2031 .
In an interview with Automotive News, she explained developing electrical architectures will have to support:
- All the components for autonomous driving — cameras, radar, lidar sensors, computers, etc.
- A greater array of drivetrain components, such as the oil and water pumps, that will switch from mechanical to electrical power.
- An assortment of hybrid-drive parts that will propel the car under electric power.
- More computing power that will improve vehicles' connectivity, not just to the Internet, but to other vehicles and buildings, traffic signals and other structures in the environment.
Delphi estimates that adding 48-volt capability could cost around $1,200 per vehicle but hybridization and the electrification of energy-hungry components will be essential to meet tighter fuel economy standards.
U.S. regulators seek fleetwide fuel economy target of 50 - 52.6 mpg by the 2025 model year, down from 54.5 mpg mostly as a result of increased sales of less fuel-efficient pickups and SUVs.
But credits for such things as environmentally friendly air conditioners and stop-start systems means that the actual fuel economy rating on the window sticker will be less than 54.5 mpg in nine years, and vehicles still will meet the target it is argued.
Indeed, full-line automakers heavily dependent on pickups and SUVs — General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — have to improve fuel economy by a challenging 5% each year yet downsizing and downspeeding engines has reduced the amount of power available for the ever-increasing electrical load.
"Automakers have ... the most effective and efficient engines ever, yet the pull for features and functionality is at its highest," she said.
Not every electrical component will switch to 48-volts however. She argues that lights, radios, electric windows and door locks, for example, will stay 12-volt. Delphi's vision is that vehicles with 48-volt systems would also have a strong regenerative braking system to capture much of the energy lost when a vehicle slows down.
48-volt's time appears to have arrived, claims Gustanki.
Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx adds, "There are still details to clarify. In India for example, they are going for lead acid mild hybrids and they are the subject of trials of various 48V options but in our interviews, the major automotive companies really see lead as something to be abandoned as soon as practicable. Another thing playing out is the extent some automakers expensively race into pure electric, minimising involvement in anything else. Bear in mind that several parts of the world are planning to ban all but pure electric new vehicles at dates roughly coinciding with the dates when today's new vehicle developments result in product for sale."
Top image: Delphi Automotive
Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing. Europe 2017 on 10 - 11 May 2017 in Berlin, Germany hosted by IDTechEx.