Trump’s Plans Could Scuttle New Hybrid Car Tech in U.S.

Global standards drove fuel-saving “mild hybrid” technology, but weakened EPA rules could stall U.S. deployment

3 min read
Mild Yet Electric: Eaton’s Electrically Assisted Variable Speed supercharger uses braking energy and engine exhaust to power a mild-hybrid system.
Mild Yet Electric: Eaton’s Electrically Assisted Variable Speed supercharger uses braking energy and engine exhaust to power a mild-hybrid system.
Photo: Eaton

Global policy efforts to boost fuel economy are progressively electrifying the automobile and expanding technology options to cut greenhouse gas emissions. One of the most exciting recent developments is, however, at risk of failure in the United States: a new generation of “mild hybrid” technology that could be undercut by President Donald Trump’s attempts to stall U.S. climate policy.

In March, Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to rethink fuel economy mandates set under President Obama. Those mandates require cars and light trucks sold in the United States between 2022 and 2025 to deliver an average of 6.5 liters per 100 kilometers (36 miles per gallon) in real-world driving— a 40 percent efficiency improvement over the average vehicle sold in 2016.

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A photo shows separated components of the axial flux motor in the order in which they appear in the finished motor.
INFINITUM ELECTRIC
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The heart of any electric motor consists of a rotor that revolves around a stationary part, called a stator. The stator, traditionally made of iron, tends to be heavy. Stator iron accounts for about two-thirds of the weight of a conventional motor. To lighten the stator, some people proposed making it out of a printed circuit board.

Although the idea of replacing a hunk of iron with a lightweight, ultrathin, easy-to-make, long-lasting PCB was attractive from the outset, it didn’t gain widespread adoption in its earliest applications inside lawn equipment and wind turbines a little over a decade ago. Now, though, the PCB stator is getting a new lease on life. Expect it to save weight and thus energy in just about everything that uses electricity to impart motive force.

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