Automakers take 48V powertrains to the mass market

Many brands are launching mild hybrid variants of popular models, but will it be enough to meet CO2 targets? By Freddie Holmes

Where does 48V technology plug in to the future of mobility?

With such a low base to work with, the growth rate of electric vehicles (EVs) has been impressive in recent years. However, the percentage share of new registrations still dwindles in single figures, with gasoline and diesel continuing to dominate the market.

According to figures from the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), electrically chargeable vehicles (ECVs) in the EU accounted for just 6.8% of all vehicles sold in the first quarter of 2020, despite the fact that ECV sales more than doubled over the first three months of the year. Hybrid vehicles, which include a range of different architectures, took a 9.4% share of the market, with 232,525 units representing a 45% gain over the previous year.

The long-term target of achieving a fully electric fleet should not be overlooked, but high volumes of 48-volt (48V) models may better satisfy the short-term needs of the market.

BMW 48V mild hybrid powertrain
BMW now offers mild hybrid powertrains across more than 50 model variants

Low voltage, high reward

BMW has made a particular push to integrate 48V technology across its portfolio. Since…