New Report Evaluates Competing Thermal Management Advances That Improve Future Vehicle Fuel Economy, CO2 Emissions, and Passenger Comfort

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The ITB Group has recently released a report on “Changing Paradigms in Automotive Thermal Management” which instructs manufacturers on where to set product development priorities so as to achieve profitable development targets with high OEM customer value.

For suppliers, successful development in thermal management to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions is a key strategy for longevity in the next two design cycles. ITB aims to assist in the management decision making process by assessing the high value advancements related to powertrain technologies and the opportunities that are compatible in conventional and electrified powertrains. Additionally, the report details the synergistic effects of combining thermal management technologies within and across system boundaries that are necessary for reducing emissions.

During its primary research, ITB spoke with system and component development experts at light vehicle OEMs, tier and material suppliers, as well as regulatory organizations. A strong emphasis was placed on evaluating technologies that are in various phases of market introduction, ranging from the patent phase through broad scale commercialization.    

“Our goal was to understand the technologies and their potential value. We reviewed 60 thermal management advancements for improving powertrain energy consumption and passenger comfort” said Sean Osborne, director of the Thermal Management Practice at The ITB Group. 60 discrete technologies in the process of development were evaluated for architectures and components, from a purely economic standpoint, to evaluate vehicle fuel consumption savings versus the initial component or system cost.

The spectrum of integrated thermal management philosophies encompasses heat transfer, storage and recovery, insulation and glazing, fluid controls and electronics, and HVAC and ventilation. Many recent technology introductions are evaluated, including oil heating, insulation and preconditioning, model and map based algorithms, smart valves and thermostats, exhaust heat recovery, thermoelectric strategies, increasingly intricate or integrated forms of multi-level EGR or charge air cooling, and passenger compartment focused technologies such as heat pumps, PTC heating, and zonal comfort.

A major deliverable in the report is to understand the strategies and partnerships that specific automotive OEMs are pursuing. A variety of OEM-specific thermal management philosophies and architectures are examined, as there is anything but a uniform approach among the major OEMs. The current technological palette of the thermal management tier suppliers is also examined, as is the growing influence of sub-suppliers offering greater sophistication in in controls, algorithms and pumps and valves.

Osborne summarized ITB’s conclusions during a recent conference focusing on automotive under-the-hood polymer and thermal management innovations in Novi, Michigan in May 2015.

The new report is just over 700 pages in length and initially examines the industry dynamics related to market trends regarding emissions and government regulations and incentives. It then goes on to discuss opportunities, challenges, methodologies, and benchmarks in thermal management of vehicle architecture, conventional powertrain technologies, electrified vehicles, and passenger comfort systems. The end of the report contains an analysis of thermal management material advancements in addition to a summary of patent activity from 2010 through 2014.

About The ITB Group:
The ITB Group, Ltd. Is an international automotive technical/business consulting firm headquartered in Novi, Michigan, USA. It provides technical and business advice to OEMs, component and material suppliers in North America, Europe, and Asia. The company is a leading expert in the use of polymer materials for automotive applications including under-the-hood, interior, and exterior applications. The firm further provides guidance for various forms of supplier transactions.

Further background can be found at http://www.itbgroup.com.

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Darren Nowak
The ITB Group
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