It has been another momentous year for the electric vehicle markets and technologies, with important policy developments, sales growth and game-changing models to be launched.
Electric Vehicle Markets: Another Significant Year
China has once again run the gauntlet in the automotive sector, with record electric vehicle sales of nearly 5 million a year. The dual credit system – two types of credits that must be accumulated to avoid penalties – is a key reason. While impressive, the results aren’t perfect. Much of this has been achieved with sales of small and micro cars, an artificial outcome that relieves pressure on supply chains but ultimately is not consumer preference. A shift towards affordable versions of larger vehicles will be required as policy drivers fully phase out in the coming years – a more difficult task.
China’s success is leading to cross-pollination with other parts of the world, which could be key to mainstream electric vehicle adoption. In fact, BYD and NIO have announced plans to sell EV models in Europe soon. The biggest hurdle to this is likely to be of a political nature. The EU has a history of banning cheap (or undercutting) EV imports from China, for example when the craze started a few years ago it imposed a tariff of up to 83% on e-bikes.
Within Europe, in June 2022, the EU confirmed a landmark ban on internal combustion engines (ICE) for 2035 and later said e-fuels would be banned for cars and light commercial vehicles (vans). The judgment consolidates battery electric vehicles as the linchpin of future road transport markets. The ban equates to approximately 9-10 million electric car sales annually by 2035 using current vehicle sales data. Given that EU countries sold around 1.8 million electric cars in 2021, the targets, more than a decade away, seem achievable.
Across the pond, the US market gained momentum with the modernization of its federal EV tax credit, part of the broader Inflation Reduction Act. The incentive is designed to build a more localized supply chain. That’s good over the long term, but may mean it will take several years for policy to impact market growth. The emerging passenger car market is the top US trend to watch out for in 2023. Ford’s electric F150 was launched with overwhelming success, GM’s similarly priced Silverado is about to hit the market in 2023, and GM’s luxury Hummer EV has been sold out for two years. While Tesla currently holds around 50% of the U.S. electric car market, its share has declined slightly in recent years. As Tesla prioritizes battery supply for the Model 3 and Model Y, IDTechEx expects incumbents’ passenger car models to become key drivers of U.S. sales.
Taking a step back, it’s easy to ignore the hurdles facing the supply chain when looking at exponential sales data. While IDTechEx’s report anticipates that current and future giga-factories will have the capacity to support 36 million battery electric cars per year by 2030, looking further ahead, particularly for lithium, there is uncertainty. It is becoming clear that the downsizing of the battery capacities per vehicle while maintaining the vehicle ranges will be decisive.
Electric motors and power electronics: The new EV battery
Improving drive cycle efficiency means less valuable energy stored in the battery is wasted when accelerating the vehicle, resulting in improved range with the same battery capacity (or the same range with reduced battery capacity). Future electric motors and power electronics technologies are key ways to achieve this.
The emerging trend for 800V platforms and higher is well underway, with GM, Hyundai and VW making a transition alongside start-ups like Lucid Motors. 800V platforms improve efficiency by reducing Joule losses and allowing high voltage cables to be downsized, saving weight. New technologies and materials are enabling the transition, namely silicon carbide MOSFETs with silver-sintered, die-attach materials and new cooling methods. For more information, see the IDTechEx report “Power Electronics for Electric Vehicles 2022-2032”.
There are several important performance metrics for electric motors, but again, efficiency is a critical area. Due to the many different considerations in motor design, the EV market has adopted several different solutions including permanent magnet, induction, and wound rotor motors. Important new motor technologies are axial flux and in-wheel motors. Axial flux motors use more magnetic material, making them more efficient and power dense, improving drive cycle efficiency through weight reduction. While in-wheel motors require more motors per vehicle (one for each wheel), this can allow for greater optimization. This in turn leads to improved drive cycle efficiency. Today’s markets are small, but IDTechEx expects demand to increase over the next decade, with initial applications in high-performance vehicles, shuttle buses, and certain hybrid applications. To learn more, visit IDTechEx’s report “Wireless Charging Market for Electric Vehicles 2023-2033: Technology, Players and Forecasts”.
Charging infrastructure: innovations to keep up with the EV markets
Like the EV markets, the EV charging infrastructure has also developed tremendously in 2022. Public AC and DC fast-charging installations are the lifeblood of the EV markets, and installations increased in 2022 to support the growing popularity of EVs. As the largest EV sector, China is leading the race with over 1.5 million public charging points. But perhaps the most significant charging news of 2022 is that the EU is considering a landmark proposal to set new mandatory installation targets – for cars there must be at least one electric charging pool every 60km along the EU’s main roads by 2026. This move will help support the 9 million electric cars that IDTechEx aims to sell annually in Europe by 2030.
Innovative alternatives are also gaining momentum in certain sub-sectors. Battery swapping is an emerging alternative to public fast charging, which completely swaps dead batteries in less than five minutes. The IDTechEx battery swap report includes forecasts showing growth to over 55,000 swap stations worldwide in ten years, with a key use case in the micro-mobility segment. The fastest charge is the one you never have to do – that’s the premise behind the technology, which is seeing significant adoption in China and wider APAC. However, the investment costs for setting up a battery changing station are still higher than for DC fast chargers. Whether this technology will be adopted elsewhere remains to be seen as market leaders such as NIO expand their presence in Europe and the US.
While battery swapping is the answer to fast charging times, wireless charging is the answer to a seamless charging experience. Buses are charged at bus stops, taxis at taxi ranks and autonomous cars in public garages without ever having to be plugged into an outlet. By eliminating the use of cables and plugs, the entire charging infrastructure is simplified. A transmitting coil generates a fluctuating magnetic field that produces a current when intercepted by a receiving coil placed under a vehicle. IDTechEx’s latest charging report, Wireless Charging Market for Electric Vehicles 2023-2033: Technology, Players and Forecasts, covers the technology, players and deployments in this emerging market. 2023 will be an important year for developments in the wireless charging market as pilot projects end and commercial deployment begins.
High Performance Electrification: Design Developments
Not only road traffic is looking for solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, operators of non-road mobile machinery in the construction, mining and agriculture sectors must also decarbonize if companies and countries are to achieve their net-zero emissions goals. The IDTechEx report “Electric Vehicles in Construction 2022-2042” provides an analysis of the ongoing electrification development work by key players supplying the construction machinery market, including technical and economic considerations for the deployment of electric powertrains and projections for the growth of zero-emission technologies in this sector.
The key to using electric construction machinery is understanding the daily energy needs in the work cycle. To achieve widespread acceptance, battery electric machines must be able to show operators that they can work a full day. A short run time and excessive downtime required to recharge the battery can severely limit the usefulness of electric machines over existing diesel models. Manufacturers must deliver the performance their customers expect while ensuring that the total cost of ownership (TCO) makes these cleaner machines profitable.
The early development work concentrated on compact construction machines. This is because their small size and relatively low duty cycle requirements mean that a typical eight-hour workday can be managed with a practical size Li-ion battery (<50kWh). Volvo Construction Equipment has already committed to electrifying its entire range of compact wheel loaders and compact excavators. But emission-free solutions are also in demand for larger construction machines. This makes the largest contribution to the total CO2 of the sector2 Emission. The tough work cycles of these heavy-duty machines mean that machines over 20 tons require more than 300 kWh of energy to perform a full eight-hour work day. However, with lithium-ion battery pack prices in the region of over $600 per kWh, the cost of these large batteries currently impedes the commercial viability of total cost of ownership.
Electrification was a clear trend at October’s BAUMA show in Munich, where OEMs like Caterpillar, Bobcat, Mecalac, Wacker Neuson and Kubota all showcased new electric machines. IDTechEx expects further strong progress in the electrification of construction machinery in 2023. If on-site pilot testing by construction companies can demonstrate the required performance, demand for electric machines will continue to grow. This is due to other advantages of the technology, such as B. Quieter operation, reduced vibration and improved on-site air quality, which will become apparent to operators.