The boom in global all-wheel-drive vehicle demand is forecasted to continue
A Wards Intelligence report, “AWD Electrified,” reveals how the shift to CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) is driving the proliferation of AWD systems in electric vehicles. The electrification - which brings a two-motor powertrain solution to these vehicles - is pushing the adoption rates of AWD systems throughout the larger markets.
A shift to CUVs and away from the traditional, two-wheel drive sedans and coupes is the primary driving force. However, the automakers are pushed to offer AWD vehicles to consumers thanks to improvements in fuel efficiency, easy control of AWD systems and dynamic handling benefits - all part of the fully electrified powertrains in newer vehicles.
Furthermore, AWD allows people to fully utilize their vehicles in various offroad situations. This allows them the newly found freedom to travel wherever four wheels will take them, giving consumers a wider variety of possible travel spots.
“There’s an interest in consumers for getting away from all the buzz of the city and the buzz of our cell phones and so on and…going out there and having those experiences with yourfriends or your family,” says Seth Metzger, vice president-light vehicle engineering at global powertrain supplier Dana. “It’s either for safety and/or mobility, or in other cases that ability to go anywhere and get out of the city, so to speak, to enjoy the outdoors.”
Luxury brands are leading the charge. However, in the U.S alone, several more volume-oriented brands are posting installation rates above 30%. And the movement to battery-electric vehicles is leading to a new generation of AWD technology, making it even easier and cost-effective to provide drive to all four wheels. For industry insiders, a strong belief that the growth will accelerate in the forthcoming years prevails. In a recent industry survey conducted for this report, 54% of respondents expect AWD penetration in CUVs to reach at least 70% in five years, with 4% believing it will soar to 90% or more.
Thanks to ever stricter regulations and newer technology adoption, a major shift towards electrified AWD can be expected as automakers and suppliers focus on satisfying consumer demand for the technology while meeting fuel-economy standards. Thanks to the high popularity of the AWD Tesla Model S and Model X, now joined by the dual-motor Model 3, other car makers are joining in on the AWD all-electric party as well. The future seems to be both electric and all-wheel drive as well.