for the following article i want:
the outhors connection to the subject:
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sources are credible? why?what clues lead you to this , about the language, information, readability and sophistication or lack thereof in the ideas and refletion on the topic? is the author an authority on your topice or a reporter?a professor? or student? is the information current? is your topice one about which current thinking changes rapidly?does the writing reflect this?are there out of date links?
Electronic Business, Oct 2002 v28 i10 p64(5)
Hybrid autos REV up: but will SUV-addicted buyers opt for an environmentally friendly car that saves on gas but commands a premium price? (Automotive Electronics). John Thackray.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2002 Reed Business Information
They're quiet as a golf cart; they're a little funky looking--in that Volkswagen beetle, so-ugly-you-love-'em way--and best of all they consume gas in dainty sips. SUV gas-guzzlers, move your tank-size, parking-space-hogging, girth aside! There's a new acronym trying to slip into the garage.
The hybrid electric vehicle, or HEV, which incorporates an internal combustion engine that recharges batteries, is out to win the hearts and minds of auto buyers. HEV optimists point to two overriding trends: 1) the increasing number of automakers who are now offering HEVs (Toyota, Honda, Nissan) or plan to introduce them in the next few years (Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler); and 2) the upturn in retail sales, which has perhaps reached a take-off threshold.
Toyota has sold a total of 100,000 of all types of HEVs worldwide in the last five years and boasts that it will crank out 300,000 HEVs annually by 2005, as more car buyers show a preference for lower emissions and better mileage. Even in the U.S market, where at-the-pump prices are a quarter those of Japan or Europe, "The total HEV industry could be as large as one-half-million units by 2007," says Thad Malesh, director of alternative power technologies at J.D. Power & Associates, Westlake Village, CA-based consultants to the auto industry. "Most people don't realize that [the HEV market] has that potential."
These predictions contrast with the less-than-glorious record of the HEV so far. Toyota, which launched the first HEV, the Prius in 1997, has experienced sales considerably below forecast, in large part because of sticker shock triggered by its $20,450 price tag, which sells at a considerable discount to its manufacturing costs. HEV's sell at a premium price. Consumers can do the numbers, and thus far, it's hard to justify the expense (see "Money and mileage," page 68).
Even so, the little gas misers likely will gain better acceptance in the next few years. Why? Because carmakers are moving away from. the pure, and expensive, goals of the lowest possible emissions and the highest mileage numbers. Instead, they're building a new breed of HEVs with smaller sticker premiums and more modest emission-reduction and mileage-enhancement targets. The result is called, in industry jargon, a "mild-HEV."
These new hybrid hybrids are expected to gain momentum in the next few years. And hybrid vehicles will spark new opportunities for electronic component suppliers, and will drive advancements in battery technology. HEVs and mild-HEVs may be stingy on fuel and emissions, but their consumption of components is robust--and it's an appetite the chip industry is happy to satisfy.
Mileage and mild-HEVs
Honda is one of the first carmakers to branch out beyond the HEV with a mild-HEV. It introduced a mild-HEV version of the Honda Civic earlier this year. Where the radical Insight HEV gets 70 mpg on the highway and 61 mpg in the city, the HEV Civic gets 51 mpg on the highway and 46 in the city. That's still 40% better gas mileage than the conventional Civic (although the conventional version sells for $6,000 less).
The Toyota Prius sells on its appeal as a statement of the driver's environmental piety, but the mild-HEVs are more attuned to market realities in a country where gas guzzling is an accepted addiction. "If you do the math, you can see that we can actually save significantly more fuel converting a 20-mpg vehicle into a hybrid than a 30-mpg vehicle, especially if it's a vehicle that sells in high volumes, not a niche vehicle," says Tom Stephens, group vice president, GM Powertrain. GM no doubt is mindful that its fleet mileages are computed under the federal CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards and those set by several states. Beginning in 2004, the company's Silverado and GMC Sierra truck models will have an HEV option, at a yet-to-be-determined price premium.
"It's clear that at this point in time the market has driven us to mild hybrids. There is still a lot of cost associated with a full hybrid. The benefit/cost relationship is not strong enough to make the switch yet," says Jean Botti, chief technologist for the Dynamics and Propulsion Sector of Delphi Corp., Troy, MI. "Mild hybrids have a great chance because they fulfill a lot of needs: fuel economy, range, acceptable cost range and they can be used for boost-assist for smaller and cleaner engines."
In late 2003, Ford Motor plans to launch the first hybrid production model from a U.S automaker. It's an HEV version of its popular Escape SUV which the company predicts will sell in the tens of thousands, and will contain, beneath-the-hood, four classic ingredients of a full hybrid. "One, is the ability to shut down the engine when you don't need it, when you are slowing down or stopped," says Prabhakar Patil, chief program engineer for the HEV Escape. "Two, a downsized gas engine that uses the electrical system not only to make up, but actually to enhance, acceleration performance. Third, is regenerative braking: where you use most of the braking energy and store it in the battery and draw from it when you accelerate. Fourth is the ability to run in a pure electric mode, when it is most efficient, such as city stop-and-go traffic." He adds: "As you add more and more of these elements, the power levels that the electrical system needs to provide go up dramatically."
Components (and we don't mean stereos)
Good news., obviously, to electronic component and system suppliers. Many of the features of the HEV are scaled down versions of ingredients of pure electric vehicles. The HEV Escape will have a humongous 300-volt battery pack that can deliver the peak power of a conventional EV battery, but without the ponderous weight and scale of EV batteries. It also contains "a lot of power electronics, like insulated gate bi-polar transistors, which act as switches. They have the ability to switch 80 kilowatts of power out of small pieces of silicon," says Patil. "Also, there are a large number of electronic controls. The Escape HEV has three additional controls to the standard gas model." One of these controls regenerative braking; two manage the torque output of each motor; and another manages the battery. A vehicle system controller also sits on the others and manages how and where the power is provided in response to driver demand, explains Patil.
"We foresee a lot of opportunities for electronic providers and microprocessor makers to grow because of substantially increased [electronic] content over conventional vehicles in terms of microprocessors and associate controllers," Patil says.
has taken a simpler and lower cost approach with most of its planned HEVs. Whereas the Prius and Insight have both the gas engine and the electric motor driving the car's crankshaft, in the DaimlerChrysler design there are segregated powertrains. The gas engine drives the rear wheels, and an independent electrical motor and battery together power the front axle. The controller module responds to driver prompts, shifting torque between the two, which creates 20% to 30% better mileage over comparable nonhybrids. Sometime next year the company will market its first HEV, but has not yet announced which model line.
With some of these same components, but a much bigger electrical engine, batteries and peripherals, the DaimlerChrysler engineers have designed a Godzilla HEV electronic extravaganza, the Dodge Ram pick-up HEV, dubbed the "contractors special," due out in 2004. It uses "the same electrical componentry that is used to propel and brake the vehicle, [and] regenerative braking and power assist during accelerations will be used as a field generator when parked. We feel this will be a strong additional feature. It also is capable of 20 kilowatts volts of continuous power, which is enough to power five or six households simultaneously," says Larry Oswald, head of U.S. hybrid engineering at DaimlerChrysler More than a truck, Oswald is betting that contractors will flock in droves to hook up saws, power lathes, drills and presses to what is, in effect, a generator under the hood.
Chips under the hood
HEVs are just one manifestation of the increasing contribution of electronics to vehicle control and design, which includes several competing applications for mileage enhancement and emissions reduction. A study by Munich, Germany, consultants Roland Berger predicts that the value of electronic systems could grow from an average of 22% of vehicle content today to as much as 40% by 2010. About 80% to 90% of new innovations today, in the upper-class market segments, are related to electronics, where incidentally European carmakers are in the vanguard.
For example, sales of electronic power steering systems, which improve gas consumption, were 1.5 million units in 1997, roughly 2 million in 2000 and are expected to reach 11.4 million units by 2007, according to a Roland Berger study. "A great deal of effort is going into electric steering, braking, water pumps, heating and air conditioning, tension control--even to the point where some people are experimenting with electronic valve actuation," says Richard Smith, senior vice president of development at Maxwell Technologies Inc., a San Diego-based maker of power and computing components and automated test instruments.
"Over the next two decades, there will be greater peration of vehicles with some percentage of electric traction--ranging from mild- to full-hybrids, to fuel cell power," says Giorgio Rizzoni, professor of mechanical engineering and director of Ohio State's Center for Automotive Research and Intelligent Transportation. "This means that you are going to have to have aboard the vehicle the means for a high-voltage electrical bus, a suite of power electronic devices to do DC-to-DC power conversion, or inverters for AC motors, for battery management, energy system management and so on."
Rizzoni adds: "The primary impact of this new revolution on the electronics industry is going to be that there will be a new, large market for low-cost, highly reliable, electronics devices and systems." However, he cautions exuberant would-be suppliers to remember that the auto industry has challenging requirements for bullet-proof devices built at very low cost.
Batteries--included, but weak
Batteries are perhaps the weakest link in the chain. "One thing that appears to be true of all electric vehicles is that automakers use the batteries gently and carefully, they don't get as much power as they might, because they are keenly aware of the fact that the battery pack is likely to be the least reliable, least durable component," says Rizzoni.
The global market for advanced automotive batteries will likely reach $500 million by 2009, as the annual production of hybrid electric vehicles exceeds 1 million cars, according to Dr. Menahem Anderman, a battery consultant in Oregon Park, CA. Although he adds the caveat that this will only happen if there are some big technological improvements that enable the journey from the present day 12-volt, lead-acid battery to a minimum of 42-volt capability. According to him, the three likeliest candidates are valve-regulated lead acid, nickel metal hydride and lithium ion batteries. Close on their heels is another energy storage contender: the ultra-capacitor or double-layer electrochemical capacitor. It's an energy storage device with characteristics midway between those of batteries and conventional capacitors. An ultra-capacitor stores thousands of times more energy than a conventional capacitor, and its power density exceeds that of batteries by 100% to 500% or more. Their prices have recently come down enough to gain a place in DaimlerChrysler and GM mild-HEVs that will appear in two years.
Capacitors will facilitate distributed power in the future. "The whole concept of how you harness and distribute power around the car is being rethought so that future cars will look more and more like electrical plants and systems," Smith says. "Mild- or light-hybrids need a high-power storage pack. Very high currents are death to batteries. That is where ultra-capacitors come in: They can absorb very high doses quickly and discharge power more quickly," says Smith.
The real significance of the emergence of HEVs, pure or hybrid, is not that they will sweep the world, but that they're a vital phase on the road to more revolutionary car designs powered by fuel cells, which will be supported by reams of power electronics. Ever the technological leader in this domain, this summer Toyota announced plans to sell 20 fuel-cell powered vehicles annually in Japan and the U.S. The numbers may seem trivial, but it could be a significant leap forward for the long-awaited technology.
And guess what? These fuel cells are a hybrid of electric and hydrogen power. And Toyota has said all its future fuel-cell power-trains will be hybrids. "I'd characterize the switch to hybrid propulsion as a big change in [automobile] technology. In 1935, the last production-model electric car was built in the United States. Since then, basically we've been refining the internal combustion engine. The next step will be fuel-cell vehicles," pledges DaimlerChrysler's Oswald.
In the meantime, HEVs and mild-HEVs will be quietly passing by pumps and drafting those sun-blocking SUVs.
share of vehicle production cost (%)
SOURCE: ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS
Note: Table made from bar graph
RELATED ARTICLE: Money and mileage
ENVIRONMENTALISTS LOVE HEVs, but it's hard to make a financial case for them when you do a dollars-and-cents comparison between them and high-mpg conventional autos.
Ward's Auto World. (July 1, 2001) compared the economics of the HEV Toyota Prius against the gasoline-powered Toyota Echo. The latter costs 'about $12,700. The Prius costs $20,450, a difference of $7,750; The Echo, with an automatic, transmission, gets an average of 34 mpg (highway and 'city driving); that will cost most drivers about $730 in annual fuel costs, at $1.70 a gallon. The Prius gets a combined 48 mpg, which translates into an annual fuel cost of $530, 'which represents a $200 a year savings. Because of the Prius' $7,750 premium, the magazine says, "It would take you 38 years to make up the price difference in fuel economy savings. Even at $5 a gallon it would take 12 years to make up the price difference, so it's s no surprise that Japanese. consumers have largely ignored these cars."
Ditto European consumers, which is why perhaps no local car manufacturer has announced plans to introduce one. Volk swagen's Audi division tried in 1997 when it unveiled a hybrid "Duo," with a new Siemens electric power unit, but it was withdrawn due to poor consumer acceptance.
And U.S. automakers have had a history of showing prototype HEVs that fizzle out. "Many of their projects have been delayed," says Paul Hansen, publisher of the Hansen Report on Automotive Electronics, Rye, NH. But another sales assist for HEVs is coming courtesy of the IRS, which will grant buyers a tax deduction of up to $2,000 the year of purchase, to subsidize the incremental cost of? The data to the IRS hybridization. (Manufacturers have supplied for it to compute actual numbers.) Better yet, for consumers who don't take deductions, there also is legislation in congress that would, if passed, grant American HEV buyers a $2,500 federal 'tax credit. Just enough, perhaps, to make buyers mulling options at the car lot drive away in a hybrid.
U.S. Department of Energy, fuel Economy information
U.S. Department of Energy, office of Transportation Technologies' information on hybrid vehicles
Toyota's Prius Web page
Honda's Insight Central Web site
Honda's Civic Hybrid Web site
Ford's Web site on coming hybrid cars
John Thackray is a freelance business writer based in New York city. Reach him by e-mail at .
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