Emerging opportunities

According to a Freedonia study, Global demand for hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) will grow twenty percent annually through 2010. Gains for these fuel-efficient vehicles will be driven by erratic fuel prices, increased emissions regulations and lowering HEV cost disparities. The US, Western Europe and Japan will remain the top markets, with
China catching up fast.

Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) combine the benefits of gasoline engines and electric motors and can be configured to obtain different objectives, such as improved fuel economy, increased power, or additional auxiliary power for electronic devices and power tools.

Some of the advanced technologies typically used by hybrids include:

Regenerative Braking
The electric motor applies resistance to the drivetrain causing the wheels to slow down. In return, the energy from the wheels turns the motor, which functions as a generator, converting energy normally wasted during coasting and braking into electricity, which is stored in a battery until needed by the electric motor.

Electric Motor Drive/Assist
The electric motor provides additional power to assist the engine in accelerating, passing, or hill climbing. This allows a smaller, more efficient engine to be used. In some vehicles, the motor alone provides power for low-speed driving conditions where internal combustion engines are least efficient.

Automatic Start/Shutoff
Automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop and restarts it when the accelerator is pressed. This prevents wasted energy from idling.

All of these systems have electronics that manage, monitor, and control these functions.