Micro Hybrids maintain lead position in EV/HEV markets

December 07, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Vehicles with start/stop system and kinetic energy recuperation to charge the batteries, also known as micro-hybrids, will remain the dominant hybrid and electric vehicle type up to at least 2022, says IMS Research. The market researcher estimates that around 58 million of these vehicles will be produced in 2022 - 89 percent of the total hybrid and electric vehicle production market.

Every major OEM is producing this type of vehicle as they recognise the CO2 saving benefits from the enabling technology. Ben Scott, analyst with IMS Research explains, “The benefits of stop/start systems are clear. Depending on driving profile, the reduction in CO2 emissions can be up to 5 percent.” OEMs are producing this type of vehicle as they look to comply with regional legislation on CO2 emission.

In contrast to full hybrids, micro hybrids don't have an electric power train; the kinetic reclaimed during braking is used only to recharge the battery. For this reason, micro hybrids are not strictly hybrid vehicles. Since they are much simpler and cheaper than full-fledged hybrid cars, the proportion these vehicles represent of the total hybrid and electric vehicle production market is expected to increase from 77 percent in 2010 to 89 percent in 2022.

In its report 'Opportunities for System and Semiconductor Manufacturers in Hybrid and Electric Vehicles' IMS Research points out that sales to date of 'true' hybrid and electric vehicles have not performed as expected. Low consumer interest has resulted in poor sales, exacerbated by the current global economic situation. “There is still the issue of range anxiety with a lack of charging infrastructure and battery technology that needs to evolve further and reduce in price,” says Scott. These issues are definitely in the minds of OEMs, which is why they are choosing the ‘safe’ option of microhybrids as a cost-effective way to meet emissions legislation.

While the short to midterm belongs to the stop/start system, in the long run hydrogen might represent the best ‘fuel’ solution. In an effort to re-engage consumer interest and ‘shake-up’ the ‘true’ hybrid and electric vehicle market, some OEMs are introducing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles e.g. Hyundai’s ix35 fuel cell SUV. Sedans and SUVs are most likely to adopt hydrogen fuel cell technology for two reasons. Firstly, these vehicles are physically large enough to store