Lux: micro-hybrids will provide the most economical path for automakers to meet 2025 fuel efficiency targets
While battery-electric vehicles, super-light carbon fiber composites, and hydrogen fuel cells will all be available, a new report from Lux Research has concluded that micro-hybrids will provide the most economical route—$1,700 additional average vehicle cost—to meet aggressive fuel efficiency targets in 2025: 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) in the US and 95 g CO2/km in Europe.
The Lux report—Building the Car of 2025: How to Cost-Effectively Get to 54.5 MPG Using the Right Mix of Advanced Technologies—concluded that nearly half of the improvements required to meet the targets will come from improvements in micro-hybrid technology, notably through improved batteries, while lighter structural materials will contribute 39% and improved fuels will add 13%.
Lux Research analysts built a data-driven model and evaluated the innovations necessary to meet ambitious 2025 fuel efficiency targets, and their impact on automobile prices. Among their findings:
Micro-hybrids lead the charge based on energy storage advances. Innovation in micro-hybrid technologies will be the biggest factor in the march towards greater fuel efficiency, contributing 48% of the improvements required to meet 2025 targets. Falling prices of lithium-ion batteries, lighter and better-performing 12V and 48V batteries, and better supercapacitors are among the changes powering energy storage.
Lighter materials are key. Lighter structural materials are at the heart of fuel efficiency and would contribute a hefty 39% of the targeted improvements for 2025. Carmakers such as Ford and GM have ongoing partnerships with companies like Alcoa and Nanosteel Company that develop materials to reduce weight.
Alternative fuels help. A third, albeit smaller, factor driving fuel efficiency is innovation in alternative fuels. About 13% of the improved 2025 targets will come from increased Research Octane Number (RON) content due to increasing biofuel blending mandates. Brazil has the highest target of 27.5% for ethanol, while the US aims for 20% by 2022 for all renewable fuels. India and Thailand have set 20% targets, while Europe lags at 10%.
The report is part of the Lux Research Advanced Materials, Energy Storage, Autonomous Systems 2.0, and Alternative Fuels Intelligence services.