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Polymer composites have great potential in hybrid vehicles- a slow growing market

Polymer composites have great potential in hybrid vehicles- a slow growing market

Hybrid vehicles are an eco-friendly; fuel-efficient alternative to traditional, petrol-fueled vehicles. A hybrid car uses two or more sources of energy to propel itself, combining the best features of the internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric motor, thus improving fuel economy without sacrificing performance. Most often, a standard ICE is combined with an electric motor and battery pack- the electric motor moves the vehicle at slow speeds, and the gas engine propels the car when it needs to move faster. The use of an electric motor can greatly increase gas mileage, and while the electric motor is in operation, the vehicle does not pollute.
Lead primarily by steady growth in US and Japanese markets, the hybrid car market is slowly growing. From 9,500 in 2000 to 100,000 in 2004, hybrid vehicles have grown. By the end of 2005, the number of hybrid cars on American roads grew to 212,000, accounting for 1.3% of the total U.S. light-vehicle market, as per ABI Research.
Plug-in electric and hybrid electric vehicles are over-hyped and won�t meet many car companies� 2020 sales targets, according to JD Power & Associates. Battery-powered and hybrid-electric cars will only capture around 7.3% of all car sales by 2020. Hence, electric car sales will only account for 5.2 mln sales out of 70.9 mln cars sold in 2020. Concerns about electric car looks, design, power and range were the largest holdout points for customers considering electric cars over internal-combustion vehicles. Most electric cars have limited range when compared to hybrid-electric cars - which use both an internal combustion engine and battery technology to improve mileage - and cars powered by internal combustion engines. Electric cars are typically more expensive than cars powered by internal combustion engines. The Leaf, considered one of the cheaper options for a plug-in electric car, costs around $33,000. The Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid-electric car, is another incredibly popular hybrid option but costs around $40,000. The U.S. government set an ambitious goal of having more than 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015, which it said is on track to meet. But there is a chance that electric car sales could exceed that target globally if demand in China is more aggressive than originally expected. Sales of plug-in electric and hybrid-electric cars might have totaled nearly 1 million last year accounting for 2.2% of all vehicles sold. If rising oil prices and global warming concerns continue to effect consumer buying preferences, it is likely that the hybrid car market forecasts will be adjusted upwards as more and more models are introduced into the market to meet the growing demand.
Despite consumer enthusiasm for hybrid vehicles, manufacturers have been slow to integrate hybrid technologies into trucks and buses. Some manufacturers consider the efficiency of diesel engines too hard to beat, while others await fuel-cell technologies that can be integrated with commercial drive trains; still others are producing and testing concept vehicles they hope will be the cornerstones of commercial hybrid fleets, as per NextGen Research. NextGen forecasts the global commercial hybrid vehicle market will triple, from a tepid 8,653 units in 2008 to more than 27,000 units in 2013. Market is predicted to begin to grow more quickly in 2010, as the global economic downturn ends and the testing of hybrid vehicles in commercial fleets is completed. Commercial vehicles can't just implement the consumer hybrid scenario of downsizing the internal combustion engine and adding an electric motor, because trucks, vans and buses need a certain level of power to make it up hills (especially when carrying full loads), and smaller engines would strain to accomplish that. Already-heavy commercial vehicles would need sizeable, heavy battery packs to support an electric motor solution large enough to help propel the vehicle, but that additional weight would place more strain on the motor and the engine, and could reduce cargo capacities. For the benefits of hybrid technology to be realized, the appropriate type of hybrid technology must be matched to a specific duty cycle.
The global electric and hybrid car market will reach US$100.5 bln in 2014-2015, according to automobile makers from Taiwan and China. Electric and hybrid car shipments worldwide are projected to reach 4-5 million units in 2014-2015. Both Taiwanese government and companies have initiated various programs to fuse electric car technology with Taiwan's competitive advantages in information communication technology to develop smart electric cars. Taiwan aims to complete 10 testing projects over the next three years, which should bring total shipments on the island to 3,000 units. Target for 2015 is to ship 60,000 Taiwan-developed electric cars domestically, to China and other markets worldwide. In the next three years, Beijing alone, plans to put 10,000 electric public transportation buses and 30,000 electric cars on the road for testing.
Global sales of hybrid vehicles, estimated at 384,000 vehicles in 2006, will reach 1.1 mln units in 2010 and 2 mln units by 2015, according to a new study by Advanced Automotive Batteries. The corresponding HEV-battery market, estimated at US$600 mln in 2006, is expected to grow to US$1.4 bln in 2010 and US$2.3 bln in 2015. For vehicles-Toyota, with a 2006 market share of 78%, will remain the clear market leader with a projected share of 60% in 2015. Next in line will be Honda, Ford and General Motors, with a projected combined market share of 25% in 2015; other automakers will account for the remaining 15%. NiMH batteries will continue to be the dominant HEV-battery technology through 2010, but are likely to later concede market share to Li-ion batteries. The report suggests that Li-ion batteries can capture 5% of the market by 2010, and 36% by 2015. Two Japanese battery producers, Panasonic EV Energy and Sanyo, share more than 85% of the current NIMH HEV battery market. Both companies are also developing Li-ion battery solutions for this market where more than a dozen additional battery makers from Japan, Korea, and the US are intending to compete. Many commercial and government fleet managers are increasingly relying on hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) to help protect their budgets from increasing fuel costs and reduce emissions of their fleets as per Pike Research. Fleet managers who calculate a lifetime cost for their vehicles are able to look past the higher initial costs for vehicles by looking at the overall cost including fuel and maintenance. In many areas with inexpensive fuel, these lifetime costs are still higher for hybrid vehicles than traditional vehicles, resulting in the need for grants, tax incentives or marketing benefits to justify the higher cost. Fleet managers mandated to reduce emissions often look to HEVs to replace traditional vehicles in order to meet emission reduction requirements. As they become available, fleet managers are also interested in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), though concerns about vehicle size and available may limit fleet applications of these vehicles initially. Pike Research anticipates that the fleet market for hybrid electric passenger cars and light duty trucks is expected to grow at a rate of 18% between 2010 and 2015, resulting in sales of more than 740,000 hybrid fleet vehicles worldwide in 2015. Hybrids will account for 3.7% of global light duty vehicle fleet sales in 2015, while the largest single market, the United States, will see hybrids reach 7.4% of light duty vehicle fleet sales.
Most of the interior auto components consist of plastic composites, which utilize the lightweight material and make the material stronger. Plastic composites are used increasingly as they provide significant savings in mass and tooling investment, as well as advantages in parts consolidation, corrosion resistance, opportunities for model differentiation and improvements in noise, vibration and harshness. Polymer composites have potential in the following parts of hybrid vehicles:
Hoods: Compared to steel a composite hood can have 30-40% saving in mass and a 60-70% reduction in tooling investment.
Fenders: Composites offer 25-35% reduction in mass and a 55-65% reduction in tooling investment. The fenders could be consolidated into a single composite piece from four separate metal parts. Unique styling is also possible, as is the integration of wheel lip mouldings.
Deck lids: Savings of 25-35% by consolidating four metal parts into a two-piece composite deck lid assembly is achievable. Lowers weight helps to increase fuel economy. Composites reduce tooling investment by 50-60%. Using sheet moulding compound (SMC) on deck lids also allows the transmission of radio frequency (RF) waves so that antennas for communication, navigation and audio systems can be seamlessly integrated.
Battery modules: These modules contain the vehicle's battery pack, electronic controller, wiring harness and other components and often are comprised of several metal stampings. Using composites it is to reduce the module to a two-piece moulding, resulting in major mass and tooling investment savings. Another advantage of composites is that they do not conduct electricity, so they provide an extra measure of safety compared to metal battery modules. They also enhance battery life because they do not corrode and allow integrated airflow cooling in the module's tunnel.
Floor pans: Composites when used to replace large structures made up of numerous steel stampings welded together can achieve a mass reduction of 30-40% with tooling investment savings of up to 60% by using a lightweight core in a single-sandwich mould.
Trunk compartments: Using structural low-density composites in a one-piece moulding can reduce mass up to 50% in trunk compartments. Composites can replace six to eight metal stampings in the complex geometry of the trunk at a saving of up to 70% in tooling investment.
Bumper beams: Composite front and rear bumper reinforcements can offer mass savings in the 30-40% range. Carbon fiber composites can improve crash worthiness.
 
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