Electric vehicles land, water and air in 2013 - PART TWO
Feb 01, 2013 Dr Peter Harrop
In this second half, we look at other aspects of what will and will not happen with electric vehicles land, water and air in 2013, whether they are hybrid or pure electric.
New range benchmark
Many more of the new affordable pure electric vehicles will have 150 miles range making today's ones with only 100 miles range, whether land water or air, look very tired. Affordable 200 mile range will occasionally be on offer in 2013 thanks to a myriad of small improvements. However, for on-road private vehicles, the tipping point for a leap in sales will be some longer range and/or lower price not achieved in 2013. When it happens, the "lifebelt you may never use" called the roadside charger, may no longer be needed.
In the face of all this success and imminent further expansion, it is unfortunate that so many investment organisations are being imprudently simplistic and panicky. We hear of investors "getting out of green energy" and increasingly "shunning electric vehicles following the car disaster".
Fortunately there are more intelligent ones around that look at the detail. It is true that sales of pure electric cars are tiny, at a fraction of the number of profitable, pure electric vehicles such as Autonomous Underwater Vehicles UAV, Unmanned Air vehicles AUV, small commercial vehicles, urban buses, mobility for the disabled, golf cars, electric bikes, scooters and indoor forklifts. For example, see the IDTechEx report, "Light Electric Vehicles 2012-2022" (www.IDTechEx.com/lev) and "Electric Vehicles 2012-2022" (www.IDTechEx.com/ev).
Fig. 1 - Global EV sales, in thousands
However, pure electric cars are a very special case. They have to be, "all things to all men" because few people can affod to buy or park two cars for different purposes. An up-front affordable family car may not even be available in 2013. Financial engineering such as leasing or rental will not attract the masses in 2013, though it did eventually help in the early days of television, a more compelling consumer proposition. For early television, there was the Sword of Damocles of huge maintenance cost, something echoed in the huge cost of buying and later replacing a car traction battery today.
Totally new components and structures
The good news is that even pure electric cars will become a compelling proposition for many of us by the end of the decade and that is because the electric vehicle industry is unique in replacing, or being about to replace, almost every part with something completely different. It is a very long list but consider how the Toyota racing car, the MAN bus and the Riversimple car have replaced the lithium-ion battery with supercapacitors. For more on that see the general IDTechEx report, "Electrochemical Double Layer Capacitors: Supercapacitors 2012-2122" (www.IDTechEx.com/EDLC) and the drill down, "Supercapacitor/ Ultracapacitor Strategies and Emerging Applications 2013-2025" (www.IDTechEx.com/superApps) .
Thanks to graphene and other advances (see IDTechEx reports on graphene, CNT etc), affordable supercapacitors will be announced in 2013 that have greater energy density than lead acid batteries and ten times the charge-discharge speed of even lithium-ion batteries with four times the life of lithium-ion batteries - fit and forget. See the three IDTechEx reports on supercapacitors. Some vehicles using such new technologies will attract premium pricing, their manufacturers avoiding a race to the bottom on pricing.
Components are replaced and merged
Consider how lithium-ion batteries are starting to replace lead acid ones in boats, e-bikes (all the one million sold in Europe last year, for instance) and forklifts etc. In 2013, silicon carbide power components start to replace silicon to give better temperature and frequency performance. Switched reluctance traction motors have recently had their first design wins and a rapidly increasing number of motor suppliers are adding them to the range in 2013, primarily because they have the lowest inherent cost. For example, Renault is working on them now. See the IDTechEx report, "Electric Motors for Electric Vehicles 2012-2022" (www.IDTechEx.com/emotors). Structural components, smart skin, printed electronics and multiple energy harvesting (see IDTechEx reports) including electric active suspension is arriving but this is a very long list. However, the necessary formable photovoltaic film for infrared and light energy harvesting across most of a vehicle will not be available until after 2013. See the IDTechEx report, "Stretchable Electronics Comes to Market" (www.IDTechEx.com/stretch) .
Disbelievers in this wave of formable, flexible, thin film and printed electronics and electrics need to look at the latest Ford Fusion car which has an overhead control cluster that is cast in one piece from laminar and printed circuitry and lighting, giving up to 40% improvement in space, weight and cost and maybe tenfold improvement in reliability and maintenance cost. That cluster now consists of layered printed carbon and silver conductors and actuators, plastic film, a few LEDs and not much else and there are no moving parts or filaments.
Fig. 2 - 2013 Ford Fusion
The whole land and air electric vehicle industry is now chasing that technology because even copper wiring could be printed, see www.IDTechEx.com/research/pe for our full range of printed electronics reports.
Range of all electric vehicles will sharply improve
Add better aerodynamics, more efficient powertrains, the planned drop-in emergency range extenders that go beyond the piston engine (rotary, fuel cell etc), the merging of batteries and their controls and interfacing and motors and their controls and inverters, the move to higher voltages, structural components and so on and huge improvements in performance of land, water and airborne electric vehicles are in prospect. For example, the achievement of Pipistrel of Slovenia in winning the NASA aircraft economy prize shows the way for pure electric light aircraft, which it has been selling since 2007. Improving range several-fold is not just a matter of waiting for the vicious competition in lithium-based vehicle batteries to resolve itself in a price war as costs tumble. The savvy investor will therefore sieve through this cornucopia rather than make simplistic statements before going for that long lunch break.
Wireless charging arrives
Following the success of the Bombardier pure electric buses that charge wirelessly, we shall see first evidence of the collaboration between German car manufacturers to offer wireless charging on premium models. See the IDTechEx report, "Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure 2012-2022" (www.IDTechEx.com/EVcharge).
Role model of success
Want a role model of success beyond the proliferating number of niches? Toyota continues to grow sales of its hybrid and pure electric buses and forklifts, its hybrid cars and its cautious entry into pure electric cars totalling around 50% of global revenues for all electric vehicles land, water and air. Profitable? You bet.
For more, consult the largest range of in-depth studies with forecasts on the total electric vehicle industry land, water and air and all the key components and infrastructure - 22 reports in all (www.IDTechEx.com/research/ev). For free daily analysis on the whole industry that is free of excessive bias towards what is going on in the USA or, for that matter, the electric car industry, both being seen in the context of what is happening globally, a much bigger and more vibrant market, visit Electric Vehicles Research (www.IDTechEx.com/EVR).
IDTechEx has published over 70 reports on Printed Electronics, Photovoltaics, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles, RFID and New Electronic Materials and Devices.