18 Reasons e-mobility will Thrive Over the Next 10 Years

The e mobility movement is happening right now and it’s real. The move away from ICE (internal combustion engines) to electric-powered vehicles is gathering pace and already has solid foundations to move forward from. Here we explore some of the most likely developments, which will arise over the next 10 years.

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More charging points for electric cars will be needed

We have separated our findings into the following sub-headings:

  • Batteries
  • Charging infrastructure
  • Governance
  • Electricity supply
  • Market Conditions

 

This article is not focused on benefits such as noise pollution and lower use of fossil fuels, instead, we are focused on how various aspects of the implementation of e mobility will change.

1.  Batteries

The most expensive part of any electric vehicle is the battery. To gain competitive advantage electric car manufacturers need to innovate in a number of ways to bring the best product to the market. We can expect to see innovations in electric vehicle batteries in the coming years, which we summarise below:

1)    Increased battery range

Expect to see major increases in the range of electric batteries over the next ten years. Currently, apart from very expensive models, the range of e-vehicles is up to about 250 miles. Whilst, this is fine for the city driver, it is not enough for long-distance drivers (e.g. Salespeople) and taxis, etc.

Although 250 miles is not far off a full tank of petrol/diesel fuel, which is 300-400 clearly advancements are needed in battery range. We expect to see battery ranges grow to 500+ miles in the coming five to ten years, here are a few potential breakthroughs in this area:

Swiss-based battery manufacturer Innolith claim their batteries will reach 600 miles range in the near future

Swiss-based battery manufacturer Innolith claim their batteries will reach 600 miles range in the near future

2)    Increased density of storage

Much research is underway to increase the density of storage in batteries. An increase in density will potentially offer more energy in less space. Examples of recent announcements about innovations in increasing the density of batteries include:

  • Elon Musk of Tesla announced in a Tweet on 24th August 2020 – “400 Wh/kg *with* high cycle life, produced in volume (not just a lab) is not far. Probably 3 to 4 years.” This represents a 50% increase in battery density by 2024
  • Many companies are researching increasing the amount of silicon in anodes. By replacing graphite in anodes with silicon, battery density is increased by 30%+ as silicon bonds 25x more than graphite (due to silicon’s semi-conductive qualities)

3)    Increased recycling of batteries

One thing is for sure, the next ten years will see a dramatic increase in the number of batteries recycled. Global stockpiles of batteries are expected to exceed 3.4 million by 2025 compared to just 55,000 in 2018 – a 62-fold increase.

Recycled batteries contain minerals such as cobalt, lithium and nickel, but the recycling cost is estimated to be currently five times higher than the value of the recovered materials. The EU and China have already introduced laws requiring e-vehicle manufacturers to take responsibility for e-vehicle battery recycling. Tests have proven that 90-100% of an electric car battery can potentially be recycled.

Current estimates suggest that 75%+ of end-of-life batteries in 2025 will be recycled for uses such as home energy storage.

Batteries such as this Lithium-Ion Battery for BMWi3 Battery Pack have value and need to be recycled

Batteries such as this Lithium-Ion Battery for BMWi3 Battery Pack have value and need to be recycled

4)    Lower battery cost

Although electric vehicle prices have already fallen 80% from $1,000+ per ($/kWh) in 2010 to c$190 per ($/kWh) in 2020, prices are set to fall even further.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported back in 2017 that “Batteries currently account for about half the cost of EVs, and their prices will fall by about 77% between 2016 and 2030.

According to research by Nicholas P. Lutsey published on Research Gate, the price per ($/kWh) between 2020 and 2030 for electric vehicles is estimated at:

  • 2020 – between $130 and $191 per ($/kWh)
  • 2022 – between $100 and $165 per ($/kWh)
  • 2025 – between $85 and $133 per ($/kWh)
  • 2030 – between $50 and $80 per ($/kWh)

There are many reasons for the falling prices, some cited here in other battery-related answers, e.g. increased technological innovation, improved recycling, using alternative battery chemistries and also due to economies of scale.

5)    Reduced use of scarce materials

Electric car batteries use scarce materials, particularly cobalt and lithium. For cost and environmental reasons, manufacturers and researchers are looking for alternative solutions to remove cobalt, lithium and other scarce materials in batteries.

Revised battery chemistries will be the answer and there will be many breakthroughs in years to come. For example, in July 2020 Wired.com reported that the University of Texas had successfully created a Nickel-rich battery, which was cobalt-free. Not only would this be more environmentally-friendly (as Cobalt is toxic and heavy), but also would reduce the cost of the battery as Nickel is much lower in cost.

2.  Charging infrastructure

A lack of charging infrastructure is one of the main barriers to large-scale e-vehicle adoption in most of the world, infact it’s ranked third behind the price of new vehicles and concerns about range.

There is a need for chargers at home, in the workplace, at fuel stations, in car parks and at a range of other locations (e.g. gyms, hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, etc.) We discuss expected advancements in charging infrastructure over the next ten years below:

6)    Number of chargers to increase

The number of electric vehicle chargers will rapidly increase over the next decade. A report by Wood MacKenzie revealed:

  • 2019 chargers – Europe c1 million, China c1 million and North America c1.3 million – so 3.3 million in total for these three areas
  • 2030 projected chargers – Europe c8.6 million, China c9.8 million and North America c10.8 million – so 29.2 million in total for these three areas
  • This represents a growth from 3.3 million in 2019 to 29.2 million in 2030 – an 885% increase – so you could say this is a growth market!

7)    Mix of charger infrastructure

McKinsey report that by 2030, home and workplace chargers will represent c95% of the total of all chargers available worldwide. These will predominantly be slow chargers, with faster chargers being located predominantly in fee-paying charging stations.

8)    Improved charger speeds

Consumers can expect to see improvements in charger speeds. This combined with improvements in battery range, battery density and general e-vehicle enhancements will reduce consumer anxieties surrounding charger speeds in the next few years.

Innovation is especially needed in the heavy-duty market where fast chargers are needed in markets such as aviation, heavy trucks and shipping.

3.  Governance

9)    Awareness

An important obstacle to e-vehicle adoption is consumer awareness levels. To many consumers e-vehicles are seen as niche, futuristic and not a product to buy in the “here and now”.

Many of these views are factually based, as the e-vehicle infrastructure needs to grow gradually, but in the meantime, consumers need to be educated and informed.

There are many e mobility myths, which need to be overcome before many consumers will buy. A variety of important influencers need to educate and inform e-vehicle buyers about the “e mobility story”. Such influencers include governments, automotive manufacturers, researchers and universities, energy companies and eco-friendly charities.

Expect in the years to come an ever-increasing amount of informational messaging about e mobility, many of which will be promoted as environmental targets partially depend on a switch from ICE to e-vehicles.

10)    Globalised standards

The majority of nations around the world are starting with e mobility at exactly the same time. This creates an opportunity for globalised standards to be “the norm” as opposed to local standards, which potentially will be more expensive to implement.

Expect to see globalised standards rolled-out over the coming decade, which will help with the smooth rollout of e mobility around the world.

11)    Legislative and regulatory compliance

China, Russia, the USA, the EU and governments around the world are introducing many types of legislation, which interface with e mobility.

Governments are under pressure to meet global emissions agreements and e mobility is “low hanging fruit”, which may help to achieve the targets. Expect to see a number of global, regional and national laws to be implemented, which relate to e mobility.

In addition, associated “players” will introduce regulations relating to e mobility. These will be implemented by trade bodies, energy companies, automotive manufacturers, etc.

Laws and regulations should over time increase the level of confidence that consumers have in e-vehicles and remove some of their obstacles to purchasing them.

4.  Electricity supply

12)    Delivery of grid demands

The IEA (International Energy Agency) estimates two possible scenarios for increases in electricity demand from e-vehicles:

  • 2019 electricity consumption – 79 TWh
  • 2030 demand between 550 TWh and 1,000 TWh
  • This represents an increase of 7 to 13 times the level of demand in 2019

Therefore, expect to see electricity provision around the world “ramp-up” to cope with the increased demand for e-vehicles. Although, this is said to be “not a problem” in developed countries, this may be a considerable obstacle in some countries, which are struggling to increase the amount of electricity available from their grids.

13)    Smart grids

Smart grids will increase in popularity over the years to come. This gives e-vehicle owners the chance to save money on electricity usage by charging in off-peak periods. This strategy is expected to help in managing peaks and troughs in grid demand.

14)    Increases to the renewable energy mix

It’s a myth to think that e-vehicles are always more eco-friendly than ICE models. They actually cost on average 70% more energy to manufacture than ICE models, it’s from the time they hit the roads that e-vehicles are much more eco-friendly – depending of course on the source of generation of electricity.

In general, the higher the renewable energy share of the overall mix (mainly solar and wind energy), the more environmentally-friendly the e-vehicle will be able to run.

Energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind will dramatically benefit the environment compared to the use of fossil fuels. On the other extreme if the electricity is 100% coal-based then this will be dramatically more polluting than fossil fuels would be.

For electric vehicles to be truly eco-friendly there needs to be a higher mix of renewable energy within electricity supply

For electric vehicles to be truly eco-friendly there needs to be a higher mix of renewable energy within electricity supply

For electric vehicles to be truly eco-friendly there needs to be a higher mix of renewable energy within electricity supply

Stats from the EU about member’s renewable energy generation show an increase from 15.3% across member states in 2011-2012 to 18.9% in 2017-2018. The EU is committing to achieving 20% by 2020. According to Our World in Data:

“In 2019, around 11% of global primary energy came from renewable technologies.”

So, governments around the world are looking to increase renewable energy as a % of overall energy around the world. In some countries (e.g. Russia), where renewable energy is only 3% and there is a heavy dependence on coal it would actually be non-eco-friendly to drive e-vehicles (at least in the short-term).

5.  Market conditions

15)    Green benefits

Many governments are promising “green benefits” for e-vehicle owners. Countries such as Canada, China, Norway and the UK have introduced green number plates, which are a visual reminder with benefits for the e-vehicle owner. Advantages available may include lower parking charges, road tax reductions, cost-free entry into zero-emission zones, etc.

16)    Increased market size

There are various estimates of the increase in market size for e-vehicles. A survey commissioned by the International Copper Association and published by Reuters reveals:

  • Electric vehicles (all-electric cars, hybrid cars and buses) worldwide are expected to grow from 3 million in 2017 to 27 million by 2027
  • Analysts are predicting that by 2040 more electric cars will be produced worldwide than there will be petrol or diesel

17)    Reduced vehicle costs

Experts agree that e-vehicles will reduce in price in the future, with some reports suggesting e-vehicles will cost less than 50% of an ICE equivalent in the year 2030. Here are some of the main reasons that e-vehicle prices are set to fall:

  • Battery related savings – batteries represented c33% of the total cost of an e-vehicle in 2019:
    • a range of technology advancements, including improvements in energy density
    • falling battery prices
    • higher recycling value of batteries
    • reduced use of scarce materials such as cobalt
  • Increased economies of scale – which are made possible through larger-scale manufacturing
  • Technology advances – a range of other technological advances will further reduce prices
Many new models will be available in the future, models like this Hyundai Kona

Many new models will be available in the future, models like this Hyundai Kona

18)    Vehicle choice

Almost all vehicle manufacturers are now heavily investing in electric vehicle manufacturing – after all this is the future of the industry. Consumers can expect a large selection of makes and models to be available of all-electric, plug-in hybrids and hybrids which meet a wide-range of owner requirements.

Owners need to carefully identify what they need and then buy an e-vehicle which delivers to these requirements. Obsolescence is still a problem, with some owners very disappointed with resale values – to overcome this monthly leasing could be seen as an attractive option.

Explore your e mobility future with SPI Lasers

The future looks promising for e mobility, click here to subscribe for updates and receive future articles we publish.

SPI Lasers through our Pulsed and CW fiber lasers range are fully committed to e mobility, we are investing in research & development in future years and will deliver innovative, cutting-edge fiber laser solutions.

Why not contact SPI Lasers today and explore the role that fiber lasers could play in the coming years in your organisation, our contact details are available here.

 

Image Credits: Industry Leaders Magazine, Wikipedia, Franck in Japan, Seagul and Mike NR1

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