Electric vehicles: better not cheaper
At analysts IDTechEx we are often questioned about our forecasts of prices of certain electric vehicles not going down over future years. The answer is twofold. Often the mix changes as ever larger vehicles in a particular category become viable. Secondly, the specification and complexity of a given vehicle is enhanced. Fires with lithium-ion batteries mean better Battery Management Systems BMS, some monitoring temperature of each cell. Range of electric vehicles will go from inferior to better than conventional vehicles by using carbon composite then bodywork that doubles as a supercapacitor and circuit, though not at lower cost initially. Thermoelectric energy harvesting will be viable on cars within three years, flexible photovoltaics is coming along and kinetic energy recovery in all three dimensions not just regenerative braking and all this calls for electronics tolerant of spikes and intermittency - extra componentry and cost but longer range without pollution at point of use also achieved by the new, initially expensive, fuel cell vehicles.
The Toyota Mirai, the first fuel cell car on open sale, has premium price without premium performance, space or luxury. It is excellent work in progress but fixing it will have cost not just cost saving. Then there is autonomous vehicle technology being pursued by every leading automotive manufacturer and their Tier One suppliers. Autonomy is coming in incrementally with partial and intermittent versions first but it always involves more product and therefore more initial expense. Indeed, the proponents trumpet that the electronics for autonomy may end up as the most expensive part of the car. Does that sound like cost reduction? The construction, agricultural and mining electric vehicles coming in will be capable of much more, being more controllable and more effectively linking powertrain to mission tools and accessories but not resulting in cost reduction initially.
Of course there are exceptions. There is not a lot more sophistication that people will pay for in an electric bicycle for example. Uniquely, IDTechEx has reports published in 2015 on all these aspects from the overall market to vehicles for those different applications and the new technologies. See www.idtechex.com/research/ev
Top image: Toyota