The EE Times reports that engineers at a 42-volt automotive systems conference have concluded that 42-volt systems will certainly replace 12-volt systems, even if higher than expected development costs and a slower economy have caused a delay to introduction.

Automotive experts at a 42-Volt Automotive Systems Conference held in Cleveland predict that half of all new vehicles will incorporate 42-V electrical architectures by 2010, and 100 percent will have the technology by 2020.

The massive technological changeover is expected to create new opportunities for manufacturers of batteries and power electronics, and will usher in a new era of high-tech automotive features that today’s 12-V batteries couldn’t support, engineers said.

The EE Times report says that several car manufacturers have also said they already have, or will soon introduce, cars with 42-V architectures. Toyota described the development of its new Crown Mild Hybrid, which incorporates a 42-V/14-V electrical architecture, and Ford Motor Co. said it is working on a dual-voltage (42/14-V) station wagon, the Mondeo. DaimlerChrysler, meanwhile, has announced that it will also employ a dual-voltage design on a future Mercedes SL.

Engineers said at the conference that several factors would drive the move to 42-V, including fuel economy and reduced emissions. 42-V architecture is seen as an enabler for such features as “idle stop,” in which a vehicle’s engine shuts down at traffic lights.

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