Diesels and Hybrids Gaining U.S. Marketshare

Freedonia study forecasts diesels and hybrid-electric technologies will power a much larger percentage of all new light vehicles in 2014, while fuel cells remain a more distant promise.

Published: 25-Jan-2006

There will be a significant shift in the product mix of powerplants used in light vehicles, for the US market, with diesel engines and hybrid-electric powerplants beginning to take share away from spark ignition internal combustion engines, according to a new report from the Ohio industrial research firm Freedonia Group.

The fuel price spike that occurred in 2005 created new interest in fuel-efficient powertrain technologies, which has boosted demand for hybrid-electric vehicles and, to an extent, for diesel engines. As a result, diesels and hybrid-electric technologies are forecast to power a much larger percentage of all new light vehicles in 2014. Fuel cells remain a more distant promise. These and other trends are presented in Hybrid Electric Vehicles & Competing Automotive Powerplants, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm.

Despite rapid gains in alternative powerplant types, the conventional spark ignition internal combustion engine (ICE) will remain the dominant powerplant technology in the US throughout the forecast period. The spark ignition ICE’s continued ability to cost-effectively meet tighter emissions standards yet provide high levels of power and driveability will ensure its position in the marketplace. The diesel ICE has recently emerged as a legitimate substitute for the spark ignition engine in the US light vehicle market both from a business and a regulatory perspective.

The tremendous success of the technology in Europe, where it is on the verge of capturing 50 percent of the light vehicle market, amply demonstrates the advances made in light diesel direct injection technology in the past decade. Growth will be robust, due in part to the introduction of low-sulphur fuels (scheduled for late 2006).

The market for hybrid-electric ICEs will expand significantly from a relatively small base in 2004. Demand is being driven both by increased concerns regarding fuel prices and the additional performance HEVs can offer in acceleration. Two types of hybrids are currently being developed: full hybrids, with large high voltage battery packs; and mild hybrids, which provide less electric power to operate the vehicle but can be more easily integrated into existing ICE drivetrains and are more cost effective. Fuel cell-powered vehicles will emerge slowly in the next decade.

Significant but apparently soluble vehicle-related engineering challenges as well as daunting fueling infrastructure requirements will limit commercialisation.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles & Competing Automotive Powerplants (published 01/2006, 291 pages) is available for $4,200 from The Freedonia Group, Inc., 767 Beta Drive, Cleveland, OH 44143-2326. For further details, please contact Corinne Gangloff by

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