One of the certainties in the automotive industry is the drive by automakers to ramp up or go all-electric in electric vehicle (EV) production over the next few years and encourage EV adoption. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), we have already seen a record 6.6 million electric vehicles sold worldwide in 2021 and 2 million have already been sold in the first quarter of 2022, despite the strain on global supply chains.
Within electric vehicles themselves, there are several categories, including all-electric or battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hybrid cars. We also see electric sports cars and electric sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
One such announcement this week comes from Polestar, the Swedish electric car company that has said it will unveil its first electric SUV, the Polestar 3, in October 2022. This car plans to introduce some level of autonomous highway control with LiDAR sensors from Luminar and centralized Nvidia-based computing power. At launch, the Polestar 3 will feature a twin-motor powertrain and large battery with a target range of over 600 km / 372 miles (WLTP).
Later this month, Lexus will unveil its vision of a future all-electric, high-performance sports car for the first time in Europe. Making its debut outside of Japan at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the company will unveil its Lexus Electrified Sport concept and show its RZ450e battery electric SUV to the public for the first time. The RZ 450e is based on a new, dedicated electric vehicle platform, with the battery unit integrated into the chassis under the cab and featuring a steer-by-wire system with its new One Motion Grip – which the company says is a world first in the automotive space is . The latter dispenses with the mechanical connection to the wheels and thus also with a conventional steering wheel. Instead, an electrical connection is used to send input from the steering wheel and wheels. The result is instant response and more precise steering control.
As in the previous year, electromobility will again be a focus at Goodwood and will therefore also feature the Electric Avenue. Alongside a range of popular electric vehicles, a number of debuts and premieres will be on display here including the European debut of the Electra Meccanica Solo, the UK debut of the Fisker Ocean and the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 ePerformance premiere. This part of Goodwood will also feature Britishvolt’s Concept Paddock, which will showcase a range of electric vehicles that are in the pre-production phase.
Politics drives sales
More broadly, continued political support has been a key reason for strong EV sales in many markets, with total public spending on subsidies and incentives doubling to nearly $30 billion in 2021, according to the IEA. A growing number of countries have ambitious vehicle electrification targets for the coming decades, and many automakers have plans to electrify their fleets that go beyond policy targets. In 2021, five times more electric car models were available worldwide than in 2015, and the number of available models reached 450 by the end of 2021.
One company whose EV mission is in full swing is the Volkswagen Group. At his Annual General Meeting last month, CEO Herbert Diess said: “We assume that the e-mobility business will build on the profitability of our combustion engine business sooner than planned. Because we are rolling out our e-mobility kits across the board, converting more and more production facilities and selling our technology to competitors like Ford.” in the US, the Group’s share of the BEV market last year was around 8%, roughly twice the market share for internal combustion engines; and in China, its largest single market, the group delivered around 93,000 pure electric vehicles last year, more than four times as many as in 2020.
Volkswagen plans to build over 40 million vehicles on its future single electric SSP (Scalable Systems Platform) platform, which will reduce the complexity of vehicle construction. Last year, 1,000 additional software developers were hired to advance the development of the group’s software stack for autonomous driving. Further know-how has been added through the integration of the camera software manufacturer Hella Aglaia and other tech companies. And it is cooperating with Bosch to jointly generate traction in the development of autonomous driving. “Taking the software development 100% in-house is a completely new approach that requires two lifecycles. In the automotive industry, that’s 15 years,” said Diess.
Faster charging and efficiency are key to more EV growth
Battery efficiency, charging speed and range of EVs are important factors that could hold back EV uptake among consumers who are unsure whether to switch to EVs now. At the recent FT Future of the Car conference, Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Kaellenius said: “Efficiency is the new currency for electric vehicles. We can probably expect better efficiencies in 2024-25.”
Speak with EE Times Europe Speaking at the FT Future of the Car conference, Antonio Leone, director of battery management systems at NXP Semiconductors, said new levels of battery health diagnostics, including prediction, are needed. He said: “Today batteries are over engineered and weight is important so there is potential for a 20-30% reduction in cells. There is a shift towards better battery estimation [health].” He pointed out that it would be important to enable predictions.
While battery management systems including health diagnostics can help improve range, another development afoot is rapid battery charging. This week, Israeli startup StoreDot announced that it has expanded its portfolio of strategic investors and partners to enable the mass production of silicon-dominated lithium-ion cells that will offer a range of 100 miles on a five-minute charge by 2024. It has raised a total of $200 million and its investors and partners include Daimler, Volvo, Polestar, VinFast, Ola Electric EVE Energy, TDK, BP Ventures and Samsung Ventures.
Polestar, which announced its investment in StoreDot last month, said it is exploring, adapting and applying StoreDot’s technology to Polestar vehicles for the proof-of-concept. Test cases already under investigation include adapting StoreDot’s cell technology to its cars to allow for faster charging and improved circularity. Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar, said: “Charging and range anxiety are common concerns deterring ICE car owners from switching to electric vehicles. StoreDot’s advanced battery technology may offer real solutions to these obstacles. If our current pilot projects with StoreDot are successful, we could see these solutions being implemented in Polestar vehicles by 2026.”
We’ll be at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this month to discuss more of these and other topics with key players in the automotive ecosystem. If you are planning to be there we would love to chat, you can contact nitin.dahad [at] aspencore.com.
Coverage from last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed:
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