Will the transport sector follow passenger cars’ in a move towards electrification? TNB asked Mary Gustanski of Delphi Technologies, one of the industry’s leading technology suppliers, for her insights.
With so much talk of future technology in the automotive world, it’s easy to be swept up in all the excitement and believe it’s only a matter of time before every vehicle on our roads is fully electric.
While manufacturers are investing heavily in new, zero emission technology, other fuel types will still have a significant role to play long into the future. This is especially true for the long-haul and heavy goods sector, where ever-evolving diesel technology could have a longer future than many imagine.
This is certainly the view of Mary Gustanski, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer with Delphi Technologies, one of the leading global suppliers of powertrain technologies to the vehicle manufacturers.
“For long-haul trucks, diesel is likely to remain the prime solution with electrification growing in popularity for urban applications. In the short term, no other fuel source will be able to offer the haulage industry better emissions, range, affordability or usability than a modern direct injection diesel engine.”
In her role, Gustanski is ideally placed to take a long-term view of where technology developments are going, and what manufacturers of commercial vehicles are asking for.
Delphi Technologies says it has contracts to supply state-of-the-art diesel fuel injection and engine management systems stretching beyond the next decade. “That’s why we are investing in new injector technology for medium-heavy duty applications, using an ultra-fast 1 mm microvalve that will enable another significant step in emissions and fuel economy,” continues Gustanski. “We already have significant commitments from global vehicle manufacturers, giving us confidence to enter pilot production here in the UK.”
Heavy-duty petrol trucks may not be on the horizon, but other fuels certainly are. The dual fuel CNG-diesel injector (for heavy duty applications) jointly developed by Delphi Technologies and Westport recently entered production. “The trend will be towards the right fuel – and the right level of electrification – for each application.”
In the medium-heavy duty segments, Delphi Technologies believes that a wide range of electrification strategies will be employed. “We see growing demand for flexible, scalable technologies that allow powertrains to be optimised for how and where they are used,” says Gustanski. “We are accelerating our investments in areas such next-generation supercapacitors, high-efficiency inverters and systems for intelligent driving using data from the cloud.”
An example is the new Viper high voltage power switch. This tiny device is a key subsystem inside the company’s latest inverters; vital high-voltage systems that transform direct current from the batteries to alternating current for the e-drive motor. Their efficiency has a big impact on vehicle performance and range.
Electrification has traditionally not been light or compact, both of which are critical to operators who need to carry paying passengers or cargo. Delphi says it’s new inverter is 30-40 percent smaller and lighter than the competition as well as being more efficient, providing a glimpse at how new approaches will gradually make electrification – hybrids and pure EV – more attractive for CV applications.
Revealing more of the company’s technology roadmap, Gustanski says her global engineering team is already working with CV customers on electrification at up to 800 Volts. “Higher voltages allow smaller, lighter electrification systems, increasing vehicle capacity and allowing faster charging to help keep them working,” she concludes.