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Sergio on 48V power, mpg

by David Zatz on

For decades, the auto industry has standardized on 12-volt electrical systems. That level of voltage is low enough to usually not be lethal, and to be easy to contain; and still to be much more efficient than the old six-volt standard. However, even years ago, some suppliers and car companies alike have suggested it was high time to go to 48 volts.

Now, it appears that will happen, at Fiat Chrysler. Sergio Marchionne, CEO, said today that “We’ll be introducing belt-starter generators, 48-volt systems in most of our cars that provide hybrid solutions.”  (Allpar had predicted belt-starter generator systems over a year ago.)

Mr. Marchionne also noted that at some point, between autonomous driving and ride-share services, that demand would drop — “Are we going to drop from the current 17.5 or 18 million cars down to 12? If that happens, I think the transition is painful…”

As Chrysler launched its first home-grown hybrid, Mr. Marchionne also noted the cost issues, albeit with lower battery prices than before; and said, regarding the current fuel economy targets, “There’s nothing wrong with wanting ambitious targets. We need to understand, and you see it when you walk and stand in all this hype around the hybrids and self-driving cars and everything else, technology is undoubtedly available for us to make those numbers. The question is what is the cost of meeting them, provided the technology on the marketplace? Is it going to fundamentally change the demand function of cars in units?”


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