Visitors to this year’s DSEI will have been struck by the number of hybrid vehicles being exhibited. Armed Forces including those of the UK and the US have commissioned the development of hybrid combat vehicles in order to improve the sustainability of their fleets as well as to reap the benefits offered by the technology. However, players within the electrification industry remarked that the leap to fully electric vehicles (EVs) was one that was too big to be taken in the near future.
Madeline Wild, Associate Defense Analyst at GlobalData comments: “More combat hybrid vehicles are in development than ever before signifying a serious shift towards the electrification of the battlefield. Industry leaders at DSEI showcased the progress that has been made towards creating a deployable fleet of hybrid vehicles, which match, if not beat, the capabilities of their diesel counterparts. Speaking with representatives from Jacobs who are working as part of Millbrook’s team to develop hybrid versions of the Jackal, MAN SV and Foxhound vehicles for The British Army the value of hybrid integration was clear; up to 70km can be covered on the battery alone, this ability reduces a vehicles heat and noise signature making it ideal for Special Forces missions.
Rolls Royce’s power solutions brand MTU exhibited a hybrid mobile power generation system and Hippo exhibited their hybrid multirole ground vehicles. All of the systems on show were well advanced in terms of their development suggesting that full integration of hybrid vehicles could become a reality in the not-so-distant future. The number of firms that were present, large and small, directly and indirectly involved in the major procurement programs of the British and US Armies, demonstrates the level of proliferation of hybrid technology into the land vehicles market more generally.”
Wild continues: “Despite the broad acceptance and uptake of hybrid technologies there was still a more general reluctance to commit to fully electric technologies just yet. This is due to the infrastructural challenges that need to be overcome before the benefits of full electrification can be realized; access to charging is the biggest issue with no immediate resolution. The reluctance to fully electrify combat vehicles can perhaps also be attributed to the fact that may of the benefits of fully EVs are also realized through hybrid technology; exportable power reduces the need for towed generators and vulnerable supply chains.