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LINDSAY BROOKE IS Editor-in-Chief of Automotive Engineering, the monthly magazine of SAE International. It was 1979 when I jumped ship to R&T from the Society of Automotive Engineers (its interim name; originally it was “Automobile” not “Automotive”). I recall later that we tried to pirate Lindsay from SAE, but he stayed on. Clearly, to good effect.
Automotive Engineering continues with its insider authority, with Lindsay’s May 2022 editorial exemplary of this. Here are tidbits gleaned from his “Reconsidering Hybrids.”
Expert Discussions. Lindsay’s sources are panel discussions, among them at the 2022 SAE WCX World Congress. Based on these, Lindsay derives two conclusions: Don’t oversell the end of ICE (the internal combustion engine). And, when assessing EV futures, don’t forget hybrids.
Complex Times. Mobility-industry planning, Lindsay says, “currently faces more uncertainty than at any period in recent memory. It’s not a good time to bet on EV sales forecasts and ICE-end dates that seemed unrealistic even before Covid, the chip crisis, and Putin’s war of obliteration. Unforeseen externalities have a way of altering outlooks.”
Hybrid Fit. Much of the industry agrees, Lindsay says, that “hybrid-electric propulsion will play a significant role in global vehicle electrification and CO2 reduction in the next decade.”
Toyota. Lindsay writes, “One-quarter of Toyota’s vehicle sales in 2021 were electrified vehicles, most of them hybrids. The company that created the modern hybrid and made them aspirational, profitable, and reliable is assembling a pragmatic portfolio—hybrid- and plug-in hybrid vehicles, BEVs, and fuel-cell EVs. ‘We don’t believe a one-size-fits-all approach will work,’ Dante Boutell, VP of powertrain design for Toyota North America, told the SAE audience.”
A Danger of Overcommitting EVs? Lindsay says, “Honda is expanding standard-hybrid offerings across its lineup as it continues fuel-cell and EV collaborations with GM. Citing these uncertain times, the CEO of BMW and CTO of Mercedes each recently warned that overcommitting on EVs could leave them vulnerable in vehicle sales and in the procurement and cost of strategic raw materials.”
Lindsay cites BMW boss Oliver Zipse at a media gathering during the New York auto show: “When you look at the technology coming out, we must be careful because at the same time you increase dependency on very few countries.”
And China? Lindsay cites analyses by engineering consultants FEV: that “China’s best-selling ‘new energy vehicle’ is a series-hybrid SUV with a 40-kWh battery.” This is seen as something of a revival after the country’s BEV binge in the ‘new energy’ category.
A Two-platform Strategy. “Admittedly,” Lindsay says, “having both hybrids and BEVs with a single vehicle segment may require OEMs to adopt a two-platform strategy to optimize each powertrain’s benefits. That approach is counter to what EV advocates say is a key advantage of battery-electrics: reduced build complexity and bill-of-material.”
However, Lindsay cites FEV: “OEMs will need ‘a significant share’ of hybrid electric vehicles, in addition to BEVs, to comply with 2030 EU CO2 laws.”
Range, a Significant Hybrid Spiff. “Range between fill-ups (or charges) is a major selling point for hybrids,” Lindsay notes. “They are vastly superior to even the priciest EVs in this metric. Ford’s new $21,000 Maverick hybrid can deliver over 500 miles of driving range, beating Cadillac’s $59,000 Lyriq EV and Tesla’s $40,000 Model Y each by about 200 miles.”
More Than a Bridge to BEV. Lindsay writes, “Hybrids ultimately may only be a ‘bridge’ to an all-EV future, but OEMs who have fully committed to EVs in the short term may end up regretting their decisions. While traditional ICEs are heading for a sundown, hybridized combustion engines will power perhaps one third of new vehicles for at least the next decade, and millions beyond it.”
Lindsay quotes Dave Filipe, VP of hardware modules at Ford: “Let’s just say that by , it’s a 50/50 mix of ICE and BEV. But that 50-percent ICE is going to be heavily influenced by the hybrid.” ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022
Thanks for this, Dennis. Out here in the mountain west — we’re in Cheyenne, Wyoming — there are trips we make that at this point would not be possible with a BEV. The charging stations aren’t there yet. A hybrid, such as the Maverick with a 500 mile range, remains a practical choice.
Dennis, I’m especially pleased with my hybrid. Since new in Oct. and through the winter, with a 400HP AWD Volvo S60 hybrid in SE Pa, and with ~33% of miles propelled by electrons: 91.6 gal in 4766 miles for 52mpg, perhaps twice the nat’l fleet average. Charging cost is about $9.50 per month.
From the Volvo app: Over the last three months: 59% of days totaled 22 miles or less, 21% of days from 23 miles to 49, and 20% of days with 50 miles or more.
Most importantly, this car has twice as many primary energy sources as all the rest. One is a govm’t regulated utility, and the other, free market gas stations.
I have followed the same arc as many. I love the idea of BEVs, but the more I researched the more I realized a hybrid is the logical choice until both a better battery technology (higher energy density = faster charging) and infrastructure.
Like most Europeans (and I think still Americans), the vast majority of our driving is short daily trips where we could drive all-electric, but multiple trips per year of 3-6+ hours of driving. We would hate it if we ended up having to tack on another hour of time to the long drive to north Chechia sitting while waiting for the car to fill up. My wife’s parents don’t have a driveway either, so we’d have to find someplace to fill up after arrival. There are other issues: non-functional charging stations (reducing range) and detours that take us off our “charging path.” Both would give us serious range anxiety.
On my walk/bike to work (about 500 meters), I go by a taxi stand. I estimate on average I pass by 30 times a week. For the last few months, I’ve been actively noticing the taxi vehicle types. Toyota Priuses are 33%+ of ALL taxis, and hybrids are 85%+.
Vienna is VERY far ahead of the alternative fuels curve. We’ve had electric buses since 2013, and two full lines have been running all-electric since 2020. 2023 we’ll get full-size (12 meter) eBuses, as well as a hydrogen-electric line. Yet we still “only” have 1900 public/semi-public charging stations.
It is unclear how many Vienna Taxi stands have any kind of charging. We have only 10 (in Vienna and Graz) stands with new Matrix conductive charging plates (definitely the way of the future).
If taxis are now nearly all hybrids, knowing that by 2025 all Austrian taxis must have emission-free drives, then for personal vehicles a hybrid is (for me) clearly the way to go.