A new research study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value indicates that virtually every passenger car in America will be equipped with some type of hybrid powertrain by the end of the next decade. The report, "Automotive 2020 Global Study: Clarity Beyond the Chaos," polled 125 key industry executives in 15 countries, including representatives from the 10 largest automakers, plus primary component suppliers and other strategic-thinkers from professional, academic and government organizations. Their consensus was that hybridization will continue at an accelerated pace, with powertrains assisted by lithium-ion batteries dominating the motoring scene. All-electric plug-in vehicles with range capabilities of 100 miles or more also will become increasingly common. While they concluded that hydrogen fuel cell cars are destined to have some presence, continuing cost issues, especially with infrastructure, are expected to keep their volumes fairly modest. The outlook is brighter for bio fuels, especially second- and third-generation non-food stock-based ones, although traditional fossil fuels are still likely to be used in up to 65 percent of vehicles.
The IBM study, which was presented at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars conference, also provided some fresh insights regarding the nature of both the tomorrow's industry structure and of the way buyers will view their personal mobility choices. Sanjay Rishi, Vice President and Global Automotive Industry Leader for IBM, summed up the changes by noting "Basic transportation will no longer be enough for increasingly empowered consumers. They want an automotive experience that matches their lifestyles and lets them move seamlessly from life inside the vehicle to their world outside."
To realize those wishes, the study postulates that buyers will require the purchase of their primary vehicle to include limited access to a portfolio of alternatives that can be used as needed for various recreational or other event-specific purposes. It also contends that the overriding need to be connected and informed will spawn even more intensive technological innovation, spanning everything from state-of-the-art audio/navigation/on-line entertainment packages to active safety/crash avoidance systems and remote vehicle prognostics.