ICE bans put mild hybrids under threat

Once seen as a useful next step before a plug-in vehicle, might consumers think twice about a 48-volt solution as EVs find favour? By Freddie Holmes

As bans of the internal combustion engine (ICE) loom over the next decade, questions must be raised as to the long-term validity of partially electrified powertrains. Neither fully electric nor powered entirely by gasoline or diesel, they sit in a grey area of the industry which is moving at pace toward a zero emissions future. As today’s drivers consider their options over the next decade, will 48-volt (48V) systems be anything more than a stand-in solution?

Special report: Hybrid vehicle systems

In Europe, ACEA figures show that hybrid cars remain popular among buyers, accounting for 18.4% of all new models sold in the first quarter of 2021—exceeding plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) which took an 8.2% share. Hybrids remain the largest category of alternatively-powered passenger cars in the European Union, with registrations rising “nearly everywhere” in the region. From January to March, hybrid sales were up 101.6% over the first quarter of 2020. ACEA figures lump together standard hybrids and mild hybrids in this category.

Convenience vs compliance

The attraction of a modern 48V model is fair and for many it will offer a first taste of electrification without the change in ownership associated with a plug-in vehicle. The technology can

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