Automotive Engineers are trying to revolutionize the car industry by shifting to advanced bio-fuels, hydrogen fuel cells, etc. But it will take many years to develop an infrastructure for these technologies. But a similar innovation can be achieved earlier and in a simpler manner by reducing the cost of the car and increasing its efficiency. We know that the hybrids present in the market today, though give high miles per gallon (mpg) , but it is accompanied by its high price.
A simple change in the technology of the present hybrids could bring down their cost tremendously. This technology is called the P2 technology which stands for a parallel two clutch system. The main reason for its acceptability does not lie in its futuristic technology but rather in its cost effective engineering. It is undoubtedly the next phase of hybrid revolution.
What is Hybrid P2 Technology
Unlike other hybrids, it only requires a single motor, a standard transmission and two clutches. This clutch is used to operate the gas engine and the electric motor separately without the need for two separate engines. This is where the cost saving comes in. With the P2 technology, the cost can be reduced by more than one-thirds. While P2 hybrid cars have clear advantages, they also face a problem when starting the engine when running down the road in electric mode. Different car manufacturers are trying to find ways to cope up with this problem. The following diagram explains the functioning of the P2 Hybrid System
The fuel efficient hybrid cars have surely secured a place for the richer class of people but its high price has kept the hybrids far from the reach of most new car buyers. The P2 technology is sure to bring its price down and make the hybrids affordable enough for widespread use.
Advantages and Limitations of P2 Hybrid Cars
Key advantages include:
- The major advantage is its low cost which will open the hybrid market for all customers.
- The P2 system gives better regenerative braking.
- The P2 technology does not require a torque converter and hence its cost is reduced further.
- They use high power lithium-ion batteries which are smaller, lighter and have a low cost.
- Vehicle Load is reduced by using only single motor and other lighter parts.
Key limitations of P2 Hybrids
- Inability to start the engine while running on electric mode only.
- Some buyers might disagree with the P2 hybrids being the technology of the future, since we are actually going backwards by reintroducing the complex clutch system which was declared obsolete a long time back.
- The driving may not be as smooth with the manual transmission and their might be more wear and tear because of the complex gear system.
Comparison with other Hybrids
Honda uses the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) System where the gas engine and the electric motor are bolted together through a single clutch and a single motor. In this system, the electric motor and the gas engine run simultaneously all the time. With the P2 clutch, we can transfer the full load on electric motor and shut down the gas engine. Thus the efficiency of electric motor can be used without the addition of a separate motor. Toyota and Ford have also been successful in freeing the electric motor from the engine (Powersplit Technology) but by using an extra motor, thus adding to its cost.
P2 Hybrid Market
The first hybrids using the P2 technology are the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and the Infiniti M35 Hybrid. Mercedes, Volkswagen, Toyota and BMW are already developing the P2 hybrids. We must applaud the efforts of the companies who have dared to think beyond the existing and quite successful hybrid technologies like the IMA (in Honda) or the Powersplit (in Toyota and Ford), and come up with this truly revolutionary technology of the future hybrids.
Bosch, the leading manufacturer of car components, has realised the potential of P2 system. It is not just a passing idea, but it is soon going to be implemented. Hence Bosch is the world’s first manufacturer to enter mass production with a P2 Hybrid system. It is already being used in Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne.
Impact of P2 on Hybrid Market
The California Air Resource Board, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other government bodies are working on a legislation that would require a vehicle to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards. To meet these standards, the P2 technology will penetrate the mass market and will become a standard on vehicles. These standards can be implemented as early as 2020. Thus, the P2 technology is going to be adapted universally by all the car manufacturers.
The future will see cheaper hybrids in the coming years running on P2 technology. This drop in price combined with the push from the proposed standards will definitely give a boost to the P2 technology in the coming times.