Delphi's Jean Botti: Lithium batteries extend the range of an electric vehicle.
Are battery breakthroughs coming, specifically in the area of quick recharging?
Yes. Tremendous progress is being made with lithium batteries. You see those in computers and cell phones. Well, those are going to come in hybrid cars.
These are a perfect fit to replace nickel-metal hydride. Cost and value are the issues. The battery remains a storage means. Future batteries will be high-performance and high-energy.
You can downsize the gasoline engine or keep it the same size and increase performance. Lithium will be a big player. The downside is that lithium batteries are going to have to come down in cost.
Is Delphi working on lithium batteries for automobiles?
Our idea is to replace most lead-acid batteries with a fuel cell and to keep a certain portion of the battery for regenerative braking and storage of electricity from the fuel cell. The idea for us is to use the fuel cell as the main battery. The lithium battery also extends the range of an electric vehicle.
Are you talking about using a fuel cell to generate electricity to power the electrical components of a gasoline-powered car, the electric motor in a hybrid vehicle and the motor in a pure electric vehicle?
Yes. Let's say you reduce the battery pack in a hybrid car by 50 percent; you are going to run much more efficiently.
The fuel cell is a very efficient means of creating electricity. It's a means to recharge the lithium batteries and to boost the engine when it needs a boost from the electric motor.
And in city driving when you have a lot of stop and start, use the fuel cell to do that. In a gasoline-powered car, the engine would just drive the wheels. The fuel cell would generate electricity for everything else. We think that would be an ideal situation.
Will Delphi supply BMW's auxiliary power unit for the gasoline-hydrogen version of the 7 series?
If we wouldn't, we would not be working with them. We have an agreement with BMW, and it is ongoing.
But we have not made strong statements on when and how. That's up to the customer.
When a car has to go back to the dealership, chances are it's probably because of an electrical or software problem. What is Delphi doing to improve the reliability of automotive electrical systems?
I cannot really answer for our electronics folks, but Delphi is applying a lot of reliability-prediction tools. And we have done this for our new electronic brakes.
We are applying those tools that basically go from a very theoretical approach into reliability. We are closing the loop between theoretical aspects and the practical.
Is a vehicle a bad place for computer software because of the temperature extremes, bumps from the road and constant cycling on and off?
It's a very stringent environment, but I don't see it as a showstopper. The growth of electronics is going to continue.
You'll see more and more electronics and software in vehicles with several levels of integration.
Once you have taken the right approaches in terms of design, it isn't more difficult than anything else. The proof is in cars of 20 years ago. Look how much software has been inserted into a car. We have done that quite successfully.
No company has proved that it can meet U.S. emissions standards. What part of the diesel engine - the fuel injection system, combustion chamber or exhaust system - offers the best opportunities to reduce emissions?
All of them. There is a lot of progress that can be made into the combustion system.
We are looking into homogeneous combustion, zones of lower emissions so that you can reduce the amount of NOx, CO2 and hydrocarbons. It requires a lot of precision and controls.
But to get to the future emissions levels we are talking about in the United States for trucks and sport utilities, it's almost impossible to get there only by improvements in combustion. We are going to have to have aftertreatment, passive and active.