In January 2014, Navigant Research forecast a slow start through the end of this decade but then a quick ramp from 2020 to 2023 for light-duty vehicles with 48V electrical subsystems, with sales reaching nearly 13.5 million worldwide by 2023. (Earlier post.) In an update, Navigant has significantly pared back its expectations for 48V growth, now forecasting that global annual sales of new cars with any form of 48V system are now not expected to exceed 1 million until after 2020, after which growth will be strong.
|2014 forecast. Click to enlarge.
|2015 forecast. Click to enlarge.
The evolution of 48V systems has slowed down since the initial Navigant Research report on this topic in 2013. At that time, enthusiasm was strong for a rapid rollout of the technology that would offer significant fuel economy benefit at a lower cost premium than a full or mild hybrid. A year and a half later, and the practicalities of production have delayed the initial introductions by at least a year and caused a major adjustment in estimations of how quickly the technology will move into volume production. The anticipated benefits remain the same, but the timing has slipped, as it often does when radically new designs are implemented.
While the previous analysis was focused on the 48V stop-start system, it has become clear that fuel savings alone will not be enough to justify the initial cost. The first implementation is likely to be a high-end luxury vehicle from Audi that features a 48V electric supercharger. Customers are typically more willing to pay extra for performance than economy, and getting both makes it even more attractive. Once the 48V subsystem is established, it will likely be easier to add other high power components, such as motors and heaters, after development is complete.