Mild hybrids don't get the attention of their more powerful brethren. They straddle a line between traditional gas-electric hybrids, like the Prius, and cars equipped with little more than start-stop technology. Delphi's rolling out a new mild hybrid system, and it's apparently good enough to already capture the attention of two automakers.
Delphi promises that its 48-volt mild hybrid system can both boost performance and fuel economy. The secret lies in the hybrid system, which uses juice from a 48-volt, lithium ion battery to power an electric motor that both starts the engine and provides additional get-up-and-go. The system steps down power to 12V to power the car's accessories, as well.
In short, it takes some of the strain off the internal combustion engine, thanks to its extra-beefy electrical system. Delphi uses what it calls an "e-charger," which is likely an electric turbocharger of some sort, to boost low-end torque by about 25 percent, while still improving fuel economy by more than 10 percent -- at least on the diesel Civic that Delphi used as proof of concept.
Delphi, as per its press release, believes that 10 percent of global car sales will involve 48-volt mild hybrid systems by 2025. Apparently, the company already has two automakers interested in its hybrid system, but it's not saying which ones. Autoblog points out that Jeep made mention of a mild-hybrid system in the past, so it could be one of the two, but nobody's really sure just yet.
While the system sounds impressive, it's far from the first of its kind. Our review of the Bentley Bentayga makes note of that car's 48-volt system, which is used primarily to hasten the response of its active antiroll bars. Autoblog also notes that General Motors uses a similar setup in its mild hybrids, including the Buick Regal eAssist.