48 volt hybrid systems is a trending topic in the automotive industry. While most hybrid cars on the market today have complex high voltage systems, manufacturers are now highlighting the benefits of more cost-effective systems based on 48 Volt.
The so-called mild hybrids offer similar advantages as existing hybrid system by using the electric motor for starting, coasting and braking, reducing both fuel consumption and emissions. The trade-off when reducing the system voltage is that the power is also reduced. Most mild hybrids have access to around 10 to 20 kW of electric power, 5 to 10 times less than in the typical full hybrid. This is enough to handle most of the cases where the combustion engine performs poorly on its own.
The same technology can off course also be applied to other machines, such as loaders, dumpers and forklifts. As in cars, the engine must be oversized in order to deal with the tasks you rarely perform. An oversized engine is a particularly bad solution when working with intermittent duty cycles which is what you normally do with Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM).
By applying 48V hybrid technology the diesel engine can be sized for the average workload and the electric system will lend a hand when it is needed. As automakers know it takes some finesse to get these two power sources to work together as one. There are also new challenges that come with every new application.