Plugged in: hybrid e-cars to attract greatest demand by 2019

13 Jan 2014

Plugged-in hybrids will be the most sought-after e-vehicles by 2019, according to KPMG’s annual auto survey. Technology leadership will dictate the survival of car-makers in the turbulent auto industry, it claims.

Plug-in vehicles are expected to attract the greatest demand of any e-vehicle in all markets, the report said. Fuel cell vehicles are also experiencing a rise in popularity, with 69pc of car-makers considering this technology as critical to future growth.

“Continuing consumer concern with fuel efficiency and pollution is urging auto-makers to focus on plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell technologies for the near future,” said Mathieu Meyer, global head of Automotive and a partner with KPMG in Germany.

“Since the development of e-vehicle technology takes time, in parallel, auto-makers are also maintaining a strong grasp on downsizing the internal combustion engine to meet the needs of the current marketplace.”

Despite confidence in plug-in vehicles, the majority of investment from auto-makers will continue to be in downsizing conventional engines, which could slow down advances in e-vehicles.

Seventy-six per cent of respondents say that engine downsizing and optimisation is a key issue, compared to just 59pc for battery-powered technologies.

Technology leadership

As auto-makers consider ways to grow organically, technology leadership could be critical to the survival of a company.

“The demand for autonomous driving is leading auto-makers to become mobility solutions providers,” Meyer said.

“There is a strong correlation between technological leadership and the ability to remain independent and we can see this from the importance that auto-makers are placing on technological advances to enhance their mobile solutions.”

With more software technology intrinsic to today’s vehicles, the self-driving car becomes a real possibility for the marketplace.

However, only 14pc of respondents feel that self-driving cars represent one of the key industry trends, although these figures differ widely by country. In the BRIC countries, the expectations for self-driving cars are higher (23pc) than in the established markets (11pc).

As the world’s population grows, patterns of vehicle use and ownership are changing and mobility solutions, like car sharing, are becoming increasingly popular.

Many of the major automotive brands are moving into this space, even though it doesn’t always necessarily involve a physical automobile, but a range of transportation options. 

Almost half of survey respondents feel that mobility solutions can deliver a profit within the next five years.

“The growing trend of autonomous driving [the self-driving car] can have a further positive impact on the development of mobility solutions,” Meyer said.

“The ability to ‘order’ a car to ‘arrive’ when you want it, and go where you want to go may make it unnecessary to actually own the car. This could greatly contribute to the rise of mobility solutions models, perhaps eliminating the need to own a second family car.”

Audi e-tron image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years