Barb Samardzich, Vice President Product Development, Ford of Europe, said there is not one “silver bullet” approach to powertrain strategies and propulsion systems will always have to deliver value to the customer. She claimed, “consumers are rational” and the technology would have to be cost-effective for “millions of customers”.
Samardzich continued that regional fuel costs and government policy would determine consumer purchasing decisions. She stressed that key to Ford’s global powertrain strategy was its “down-sized” Ecoboost engines, which deliver important reductions in CO2 emissions. While Ford has adopted an integrated approach to powertrain technologies and will launch a Focus-sized electric vehicle in Europe by the end of 2012, Samardzich believed that there was still potential for significant efficiency gains from traditional engine technology, and that globally it would remain the dominant form of propulsion well into the future.
Thierry Koskas, Global Head of EV, Renault, suggested that its group of companies had embarked on a bold EV strategy and anticipated it would sell 1.5 million EVs by 2016. Koskas remained optimistic that its range of EVs, to include the ZOE supermini in Europe from October this year, will address customer demands about range and offer considerable driver appeal, thanks to the quietness of the powertrain and the slickness of the gearbox. Koskas said that his company had already received more than 14,000 orders and EV was set to hit the mainstream.
Rounding off the stream on innovation in ultra-low carbon, Dr Henri Winand, CEO, Intelligent Energy, discussed his company’s hydrogen fuel cells strategy. He stressed the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, emphasising that they had the capability of rapid refuelling and could offer similar range to traditional ICE technology, with the advantage of zero emissions and no compromise in performance.
The stream concluded with an interesting Q&A, and one of the final remarks came from Richard Bruce, Managing Director, OLEV, who asked what the panel thought would be the dominant powertrain by 2040. The panel found it a challenging question but all agreed it would be most likely to consist of a portfolio of technologies to meet a variety of driver needs.
Click through for more news from the 2012 SMMT International Automotive Summit.