Announcing All Cars to be Hybrid by 2020?

While hybrids currently only represent a small portion of the automotive market, it is quickly growing amidst rising fuel prices and concerns over global warming. Some consumers even find it difficult to purchase a hybrid as wait times are long for popular models, and thus dealers are charging more. These difficulties may disappear, however, as a report released this week, Automotive 2020: Clarity beyond the Chaos, put out by IBM’s Institute for Business value, is saying that by 2020 all vehicles for purchase will be hybrids.

The findings in the report, based on interviews with 125 automotive executives covering 15 countries, show that finally, if slowly, attitudes and strategic shifts are changing within the industry. One executive noted that “in the next ten years, we will experience more change than in the 50 years before.” Certainly from a technological point of view this is entirely accurate as batteries, electrical regulation systems, fuel cells, biodiesel engines, and even the infrastructure to support these changes will need to be developed and improved, model over model. The surprising bad news of out this, depending on how you look at it is that fossil fuels will still comprise 2/3 of the market at that time, a great reduction from today, but one we were hoping to be even lower. Still, progress is progress.

The report also tells of the death of the inefficient corn-based ethanol, but supports cellulosic-ethanol production, made from inedible plant matter. Batteries and systems will be ubiquitous and the focus will be on improvement, but best of all, fuel cells, while remaining a “viable alternative”, will represent only a small portion of the market (hoorah!). What portion of the vehicles will be pure electric remains unclear, but with the quickly advancing technology in power storage, there is little reason to not expect an EV to run the distance of a present-day gasoline-powered car on a full tank. The report follows Toyota’s announcement that all of their vehicles will have hybrid engines by 2020, but of course Toyota is ahead of the game when it comes to greener cars, so will competitors be able to boast the same claim by that time?

jozef winter

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