Automotive supplier Delphi says it has already signed up two major automakers to use its 48 volt mild hybrid system. It predicts 10% of all new cars will use 48 volt mild hybrid systems by the year 2025. Delphi claims its system provides 70% of the benefits of hybrid system — like that used in the Toyota Prius — for less than 1/3 the cost. It says its system would add between $1,000 and 2,000 dollars to the price of a new automobile. It won’t say which automakers are interested in its mild system, but it is currently using a Euro-spec Honda Civic with a 1.6 liter diesel engine to demonstrate the technology. That  may be a hint about one company that is interested.Mild Hybrid Infographic

Federal regulations require extensive shielding of any automotive electrical systems that operate on 60 volts or more. That shielding is required to protect drivers, passengers and emergency workers from the possibility of electrical shock. It adds weight and cost to any vehicle. 48 volt systems require no such special shielding.

The Delphi system relies on the car’s alternator and regenerative braking to keep its battery charged. While it may provide some assist to the engine, it’s main purpose is to power accessories. Things like air conditioning compressors, water pumps, power steering systems, and emergency braking technology can be operated electrically. The more chores the mild hybrid system can handle, the less fuel the engine needs to burn and the lower the carbon emissions it produces. Delphi expects production to begin in about 18 months.

“This is not only a significant step forward with reinventing the electrical architecture for dual voltage capability, it is also a triumph of software,” said Jeff Owens, Delphi’s chief technology officer. “This intelligent approach to vehicle power, wiring and data management will not only improve fuel efficiency, but also enable a world-class driving experience while providing additional power for active safety systems and increased connectivity.”

By 2025, Delphi expects there will be 11 million cars on the road worldwide using 48 volt mild hybrid technology. Because they will consume less fuel, the company says they will save 4 billion gallons of fuel over their lifetime. The lower carbon emissions made possible by the technology will be important for all car makers as they struggle to meet tougher standards in Europe, China, and the US.

Source: Detroit Free Press Image credit: Delphi