The New Alternatives

May 27, 2019

Fuel Cells, Batteries, Supercapacitors and Alternative Fuels. Alternative powertrains are on the rise, whether in private cars or commercial vehicles.
But yet these technologies are struggling with problems such as long charging times or high prices. At this year’s New Mobility World, companies and visionaries presented their products, projects and ideas for cost-optimised and future-proof battery systems, the hybridisation of fuel cell drivetrains and the future of fast charging.

“The Full Charge”

Requirements for future-proof Battery Systems for the successful Electrification of Commercial Vehicles

Michael Schönberger spoke to the audience about Webasto’s three key products for the e-mobility market: Electric operated heating, battery systems, and charging solutions. Their idea for empowering electric mobility? Cost-optimisation. Schönberger highlighted the problems of individual battery development: High development costs, long lead times, and low project volumes which are all causes of the slow speed of electrification. To change this dilemma, Webasto created a battery that fits most applications – from light to heavy-duty vehicles. This universal battery will be adaptable for different use cases. By designing a universal battery packet, Webasto was able to reduce costs by using the economies of scale to their advantage and implement a cost-efficient mass production which creates a cost competitive battery system with a short time to market.

Natural Power – Driving the Future

Next up was Mario Männlein from Iveco. He emphasised that we need a larger quantity of biofuel to reduce our CO2-emissions – and biofuels already proved that NOx, particles and noise can already be reduced significantly today by using biofuels. The optimal solution to use and implement biofuels is, in Männlein’s opinion, LNG. Why? Because LNG is already a proven technology, and biofuel can be added to the LNG-fuel mix, thus reducing emissions significantly when compared to Diesel as a fuel.

Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine

The new highly efficient Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine as ideal Powertrain for Commercial Vehicles

Thomas Korn, CEO of Keyou, highlighted the new EU directive as an example of regulation on CO2 reduction that we desperately need. It is Korn’s view that combustion engines wouldn’t even need to be banned directly. That’s because hydrogen is a good fuel and substitute, even for combustion engines. With a few new developments in technology, manufacturers could build a new generation of engines powered by hydrogen. The benefits: Due to its higher density and energy efficiency, hydrogen would become a major factor for long rides, which is a proven weak point of classic electric engines. Additionally, batteries are way more expensive than hydrogen tanks. However, classic fuel cells are more a case for private cars. Hydrogen combustion would be the perfect solution for heavy-duty vehicles.

Photo by Frank Wang on Unsplash