According to a new report from Frost & Sullivan, almost 7% of all medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles manufactured globally in 2020 will feature hybrid-electric powertrains.
North America will be the key region for the manufacturing of these vehicles, the company says. Of the approximately 307,000 MD and HD hybrid electric trucks that will be produced in 2020, nearly half will be manufactured in North America. This dominance will allow domestic OEMs and suppliers to ‘not only benefit from the local market's growth, but also cement leadership positions in South America and Asia.’
‘Of all alternative powertrain technologies, hybrid technology places the least pressure on existing infrastructure, which is why a multitude of OEMs are offering this technology in one or more model lines within the medium/heavy truck and bus markets,’ says Bharani Lakshminarasimhan, a Frost & Sullivan analyst.
However, the company notes that hybrid-electric vehicles could be ‘upstaged by nascent battery technology’ or by commercial vehicles powered by propane autogas or natural gas.
In turn, OEMs are focusing on advancements in power electronics and batteries in order to stave off competition.
‘Power electronics is emerging as a key focal point for OEMs, some of which are looking at vertically integrating this aspect of the hybrid-electric powertrain system,’ Lakshminarasimhan notes. ‘This is underlining the need for virtual integration of suppliers with OEMs, as it will enable suppliers to assume the research and development responsibilities of OEMs.’
In the future, both module and component suppliers' margins will shrink as OEMs begin exerting pricing pressures with growing volumes, Frost & Sullivan says. Duty cycle restriction of current hybrids indicate a need for concerted strategies aimed at developing vehicles and products that deliver the highest efficiencies in targeted vocations and duty cycles. OEMs have to develop duty cycle-focused product platforms, while suppliers should work on virtual integration to ensure sustainable market growth and development.