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Ultracapacitors in your daily life: The key for getting cars ready for the future

Ultracapacitors in your daily life: The key for getting cars ready for the future

| Jens Keiser, Senior Product Marketing Manager

With the U.S. and other global governments’ initiatives to improve the total fuel economy and reduce the amount of harmful emissions caused by vehicles, you might consider changing your daily ride to a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Every year automotive companies are manufacturing more vehicles that dramatically reduce emissions and meet government standards. It has never been easier to find fuel-efficient vehicles that work for you.

Customers can choose between fuel-efficient ICE vehicles with start-stop systems (micro hybrid), hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) or fully electric vehicles (BEV or EV). Choosing efficient transportation can help reduce your spending and benefit the environment, regardless of how expensive or cheap gas is.

Ultracapacitors are playing an increasing role in improving fuel efficiency. They are used for vehicles with start-stop systems (with more than 2 million vehicles using ultracaps on the road today) and for other electrification features, such as regenerative braking, electric turbochargers or active suspension systems. Drivers benefit from ultracapacitors because they are known for their performance reliability. Ultracapacitors can withstand temperatures as low as –40 degrees Fahrenheit and can typically perform hundreds of thousands of start cycles compared to batteries’ thousands of start cycles. Because of their durability and long life span, your car is less likely to need costly replacements, saving time and money.

In addition to the reliability of ultracapacitors, manufacturers are integrating this technology into their models specifically for regenerative braking. When braking, ultracapacitors capture energy that would otherwise be lost and use it for further acceleration. With their high power capability, ultracapacitors are efficient at recapturing and storing energy, especially when it comes in short bursts. Combining a primary power source with ultracapacitors significantly improves braking energy recuperation efficiency and eliminates oversized batteries. These capabilities increase the life of the battery while reducing the weight and cost of the entire system.

Improved fuel efficiency is one major trend in automotive, the other is the push toward autonomous driving. OEMs like Ford have announced fully autonomous vehicles without a steering wheel by 2021. Those vehicles will be offered as part of ride sharing services first, and by 2025, Ford sees autonomous vehicles in the hands of consumers. Ford is not the only OEM pushing this agenda. All major OEMs have similar ambitions, and the legislation to support autonomous driving is already in the works.

With self-driving cars comes the need for sophisticated actuators and sensor that will handle the vehicle driving functions without human intervention; these highly sophisticated systems need backup solutions and redundancy to guarantee full functionality if the primary power source fails. Ultracapacitors are already being adopted as backup solutions for these systems, and the demand for ultracapacitors in these types of systems will only grow as autonomous driving becomes more mainstream. The future is certainly bright for ultracapacitors in automotive.

To learn more about how ultracapacitors lower fuel costs and increase efficiency, read about our work with GM: "General Motors Becomes First US Automotive OEM To Adopt Ultracapacitors For Start-Stop."

JensJens Keiser
Senior Product Marketing Manager
About this author

Jens Keiser, Maxwell’s senior product marketing manager, has over 15 years of experience in product marketing, business development and product management in business-to-consumer and business-to-business markets in both Europe and North America. Prior to joining Maxwell, Jens held marketing and business development positions with AOL Europe (Berlesmann Group) in Munich, Deutsche Telekom AG in Frankfurt and Kyocera Communications Inc. in San Diego. Jens holds an MBA with a concentration in strategic management from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management (Claremont Graduate University, CA). Jens relocated from Germany to California in 2004, and lives with his wife and three children in San Diego.

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