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German CTI, Achieving carbon neutrality with ‘multi-pathways’!

The German CTI Symposium (CTI) is a large symposium for automotive engineers.

It provides an insight into the global electrification movement. A major focus of this year’s CTI was ‘multi-pathways’.

The electrification trend so far has been to realise carbon neutrality with BEVs at its core. Backing this up, society at large is building carbon-free energy procurement and supply, and energy grids. The aim is to switch from fossil fuels to an infrastructure based on renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydro power, and to achieve a transformation of the transport sector based on this infrastructure, particularly in Europe and China. In the transport sector in particular, the shift to BEVs is considered to be of considerable importance, and emerging BEV manufacturers, led by Tesla, VW, GM and Hyundai Gr. have made clear their investment and business development in BEVs.

As Tesla has shown in recent years, the BEV sector is regarded as an icon of innovation and a major change in the way cars are made as a ‘state-of-the-art technology + BEV’ concept. For this reason, new entrants and even legacy manufacturers are actively introducing BEVs in order to gain an advantageous position in the competition in the future.

However, the actual market acceptance of BEVs has not yet progressed as far as expected. It is generally accepted that, with the exception of luxury brand cars, consumer sentiment when purchasing a vehicle usually takes into account vehicle price, service, resale value (residual value in the case of used car prices) and user experience (including convenience). Current BEVs have yet to satisfy many of the above-mentioned factors.

Since COVID-19, due to various factors, such as the decline in the functioning of the global industrial supply chain, trade friction and restrictions between the US and China, the protracted Russian-Ukrainian war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, export restrictions in major resource-rich countries, high interest rates and prices, the purchasing environment for even conventional engine vehicles has Not only in Europe and the USA, where a slowdown has been evident since the middle of 2023, but even in China there have been indications of a slowdown in BEVs in 2024.

Even with the unfavourable environment surrounding BEVs, carbon neutrality measures are still required. The CTI saw a renewed focus on xHEVs as a bridge to BEVs, as well as eFuel and hydrogen-related ideas. The idea of multi-pathways to electrification and carbon neutrality in various directions, and the search for solutions that can actually lead to market transformation, will become clearer in the future.

In terms of technology trends, the main themes are still motors, power electronics (inverters, etc.) and batteries. In the multi-pathway, how these main areas are handled is still important, and the aspects of optimisation, efficiency and cost reduction will naturally determine the advantage in the electrification race in the future. In particular, in the areas of motors and power electronics, which are common to xEVs, procurement and cost reduction, including domestic and foreign production, and measures and product development to comply with various regulations, continue to be of interest, while attention is increasingly focusing on efficiency improvement and control technology to significantly increase motor use while reducing engine use.