Next year, after a decade of delays and false starts, it looks like we will see several more 48-volt battery systems installed in the top-of-the-line German vehicles.
It will be interesting to see how it works.
Way back in 1955, when the industry switched from six volts to 12 volts, almost everybody did it at once. In a single model year most of the industry went together with new batteries, lightbulbs, radios and generators.
It looks like the process will be slower with the switch to 48-volt systems, and the more gradual change could be troublesome for the service and repair industry. There will be a whole raft of new parts that dealers must stock, such as circuit breakers and fusible links.
I guess every service vehicle will need to have facilities to fix both voltages.
When both voltages are being used at the same time, it is going to be a challenge for everyone in the business. Of course, only certain components will switch to 48 volts, so you will still be able to jump-start a 48-volt vehicle with your 12-volt vehicle.
I have no doubt that a 48-volt system is an improvement over the existing system. But I expected it to be something like the switch from leaded to unleaded fuel in the early 1970s, which also happened abruptly. In short order, North America's vehicles all had catalytic converters.
As with 48-volt systems, the introduction of more electric vehicles will also lead to a lot of challenges for dealers and the service industry.
No one has a crystal ball to tell whether the consumer will want all this new technology. With 48-volt they won't have a choice, but they can easily say no thanks to a lot of the other technology.
We will all find out soon enough. There are a lot of companies with huge investments. No one knows if they are right or wrong.