British engineering and consultancy firm Ricardo has developed an advanced 48V hybrid system that could feature on multiple car models and cut CO2 emissions by 15%.
Unlike similar 48V systems created by other brands, such as Mercedes, the Ricardo system has been designed to be compatible with multiple platforms and petrol and diesel engines, meaning it could be used by several car makers on a wide range of models.
To demonstrate the benefits the system can bring in efficiency, Ricardo has fitted it to a Ford Focus 1.5-litre TDCi, which has been part of three years of laboratory and road testing and delivered a 10-12% reduction in fuel consumption and 88g/km CO2 output – 11g less than a regular Focus can manage.
Ricardo says the efficiency improvements its system offers would be enough to ensure models can comfortably fall below the requirements of strict Euro 6b emissions limits, while also offering better value for money than alternative methods.
The firm says each gram of CO2 saved equates to about €80 in cost (around £67), which is claimed to be considerably cheaper than the costs involved in developing a plug-in hybrid system, for example.
Using a 48V hybrid system has other benefits too: it allows cheaper models to keep using affordable, latest-spec lead-acid batteries without the need for complicated control systems.
The hybrid project has been headed up by Ricardo as part of the UK’s Adept programme, which is part-funded by the government to promote the development of electrified powertrains.
Although Ricardo hasn’t revealed any potential future customers yet, its chief engineer, Gareth Milton, suggested manufacturers were already showing an interest.
“There is a lot of interest in all the major automotive markets, in the use of 48V hybridisation – for both gasoline and diesel powertrains. Ricardo is constantly in dialogue with the major automakers about the potential of new technologies.”
Milton said the system could make it to market before the end of this decade, adding: “There is a major leap between a technology demonstrator and a market-ready product. We would expect to see some examples of 48V technology on the market within the next two to three years.”