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Auto execs don't see electric battery future

KPMG survey polled 1,000 auto industry executives on future propulsion

Published: February 27, 2017, 2:30 AM
Updated: March 2, 2017, 4:28 AM

Combined Charging System plug

A recent global auto industry executive survey suggests the people in charge of what cars consumers will buy in the future don’t believe that electrification will spell the end of the internal combustion engine (ICE), but diesel is headed for extinction.

Electric motor drive - The Mirai’s 113-kilowatt electric motor generates 151 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque. The only emission from the process is water vapour. The system can launch this mid-size sedan (similar in size to the Camry) to 100 km/h in about nine seconds. There is no transmission; the power output is fed directly to the front wheels. As a result, overtaking moves and highway merging aren’t as immediate as a car with conventional gearbox which downshifts in response to such demands. Still, I think most drivers would find the rate of acceleration from launch, as well as passing, to be more than adequate.

The recent KPMG study has shown that electric batteries have taken over the top automotive technology spot from connectivity and digitization, but executives believe electric vehicles that match their ICE counterparts are still a long way off.

“Revolutionary electric drivetrains still need time for implementation and cannot be easily integrated into existing platform concepts,” states the KPMG 2017 Global Automotive Executive Survey, which polled about 1,000 executives from various facets of the global auto industry, including vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and other auto industry businesses.

Of the executives polled, 62% believe the current crop of electric vehicles will fail not because of the vehicles themselves, but because of the infrastructure preventing owners from using them in much the same way they would use their gasoline vehicles. But, 78% believe that fuel cell vehicles will eventually outsell battery vehicles (again, for the infrastructure and need-to-recharge reasons). And, 76% believe that ICE vehicles will remain viable for a long time yet.

Audi Q7 2008 diesel

But perhaps most interesting is that 53% of executives polled think that diesel is on its way out, due primarily to the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal. Granted that is the majority of respondents, but it’s also very close to an even split (though the remainder were themselves evenly split between uncertainty and diesel’s survival), indicating that the future is still uncertain for diesel for personal vehicle applications (although, as a technology that has been around since the birth of the engine, some 120 years ago).