Currently, the U.S. has roughly 250 million vehicles on the roads, of which less than 2 percent are hybrids and plug-ins of all kinds.
But that could all change as we edge closer to the year 2025 and EPA standards.
The U.S. has roughly 250 million vehicles on the roads, of which less than 2 percent are hybrids and plug-ins of all kinds.
Nonetheless, both technologies are important because they’re at the leading edge of the electrification of the automobile.
If you think about it, a car is one of the last major consumer appliances that doesn’t run on electricity.
Not only are most home appliances electric–though not all, certainly–so are outdoor appliances like weed-whackers, lawn mowers, and the like.
We won’t all be driving plug-in cars tomorrow. Or by 2020. Or even by 2050.
But the proportion of electrically-run accessories and powertrains in the fleet will increase significantly starting … well, about now.
If you buy a smaller car from pretty much any maker these days, you may (or may not) have noticed that its power steering is no longer hydraulic.
Instead, a majority of new cars are now fitted with electric power steering (EPS) that uses an electric motor to move the steering rack or arms, which saves weight and power.
Hybrids and plug-in cars also now have electric air-conditioning compressors, so that the climate control remains on even when a hybrid’s engine switches off.
Those compressors are still more expensive than the old compressors driven by a belt running off the engine’s crankshaft pulley, and many of them require a high-voltage battery pack found only in hybrids or electrics.
But that’s another accessory that will move toward electrification.
Again, it’s all in service of meeting the much tougher 2025 fuel-economy rules, while automakers do their absolute best to keep changes to user perceptions of how cars actually function to a minimum–or invisible.