HEVs on the roll

All major car manufacturers are expected to feature Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) as part of their product portfolio by the end of the decade, according to a new study by Frost & Sullivan.

The study claims that HEVs will reach an estimated Europe-wide penetration of about 3% during the same timeframe. In terms of shipments, the HEV market is projected to grow from approximately 900 units in 2000 to 450,000 units by 2010.

The mild HEVs segment is expected to account for the lion’s share of sales amassed in the European HEV market. Between 2010 and 2015, the penetration rate for HEVs is expected to almost triple as high-volume production accelerates. By 2015, the penetration rate is expected to be around 8 to 10%, with the majority of hybrid applications being constituted by mild systems.

Julia Reuter, Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan notes: ‘Market participants are following diverse strategies and are choosing different degrees of hybridisation in order to develop the most effective solution for the European market. PSA Group is considering the progressive introduction of three hybrid levels (mini, mild and full HEVs), while the Toyota Motor Corporation is expected to target the market mainly with full hybrids and both Renault’s and Fiat Auto’s development is concentrated on mild hybrids.’

‘Ford of Europe is vying for the role of fuel economy leader and sees mild HEVs as an important enabling technology, whereas Volkswagen regards 15% of fuel economy the optimum degree of hybridisation,’ she adds.

Adam Opel and DaimlerChrysler are also developing hybrid configurations and are set to launch their models during the second half of the decade. As yet, Honda Motor Corporation is the only vehicle manufacturer to have commercialised mild hybrids in Europe and – supported by the launch of its Civic Hybrid in Spring 2003 – is poised to lead the European mild HEV market until around 2005. BMW is expected to choose the hydrogen path and not to commit to hybrid electric vehicles.

Although some full HEV models have been available for a number of years in other parts of the world – mainly in Japan and North America – the Toyota Prius, launched in 2000, is still the only full hybrid powertrain commercially available in Europe.

Frost & Sullivan does not expect that full hybrids will be made available in Europe by other manufacturers in the next five years. Market participants have singled out the PSA Group and Renault-Nissan as potential new market entrants. The two French automakers are expected to introduce their full hybrid models around 2008. However, Frost & Sullivan cautions that uptake of full hybrids will be sluggish throughout the decade.

Reuter notes that: ‘We are confident that European vehicle manufacturers will follow the mild HEV route. While R&D outlay in the full hybrid powertrain sector is substantial, the European Market is more focused on CO2 rather than NOX emission reduction. This makes full hybridisation a less prominent issue than in other markets, such as Japan and North America.’

Honda Motor Corporation is the only manufacturer that currently offers a mild hybrid electric vehicle in Europe. The Honda Insight, regarded by many as little more than a prototype vehicle, is expected to be replaced by the Honda Civic Hybrid in Spring 2003.

Petrol-powered HEVs are likely to lead the way in terms of overall revenue generation until the end of this decade. Although vehicle manufacturers are not excluding diesel-powered HEVs, most of the major automakers are considering implementing their first HEV models with a petrol ICE.

Frost & Sullivan highlights the UK as the most potent force in the adoption of hybrid electric vehicles in Europe. France will take second place, with growth being pushed by regional players such as PSA, actively pursuing the launch of mild hybrids. In the long term, mild HEVs will most likely be establishing themselves in Germany, and propel the nation to one of the leading HEV markets in Europe by 2010.

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