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e-Mobility

"e-mobility is the world’s most successful effort yet to halt global warming" [1]

by Sérgio Granato de Araújo

 

The production of electric vehicles (EV) is taking great strides since last decade and is set to skyrocket in the coming years thanks to the i) environmental conservation efforts & ii) advances in battery tech.

  

Global EVs market size is projected to grow from about 8 million in 2022 to around 40 million by 2030, at a CAGR of around 22% [2].  From an estimate global light-duty vehicle (LDV) fleet of 1.31 billion vehicles in 2020, this fleet will grow to 2.21 billion units by 2050, of which 672 million will be EVs [3].

  

Public subsidies

  

In many countries, EV sales are driven by government subsidies, which doubled in 2021 and reached a total of €30 billion worldwide.  Manufacturers, on the other hand, multiplied the number of vehicles available by five between 2015 and 2021, and diversified their portfolio, reaching 450 electric models in 2021 [4].

  

Globally, the demand for battery EVs (BEV) is strong, prompting fierce competition among many companies for cost & technology leadership.  With 6.6 million units sold worldwide in 2021, half of them in China, EV sales have doubled in a year and now account for 10% of new car transactions [4].

  

Benefits

  

In addition to the clear benefits in terms of sustainability (carbon emission mitigation), one of the major advantages of using electric motors instead of exhaust systems concerns the energy efficiency.  BEV´s battery-to-wheel efficiency can range from about 80 to 90% (instead of 30% of fuel-to-wheel in ICE vehicles), depending on how regenerative braking system is accounted for.

  

Another advantage of BEVs is the fast and precise torque generation, even at low speed, while ICE vehicles only produce useful torque in a narrow band of the RPM engine.  Also, BEVs have one moving part for each hundred moving pieces in ICE, which can result in significant savings on maintenance and materials [5].

  

Challenges

  

However, there is a serious challenge with BEV: batteries! Apart from its higher prices, which account for about 30 to 40 % of BEV's cost [6] and possible supply shortages, battery charging takes a long time and upsets who really need to cover long distances.  Additionally, for a sustainable scale-up of BEVs, safety issues must be addressed due to the chemistry used in current batteries.

  

Lithium is used in virtually all traction batteries currently used in EVs as well as consumer electronics [7]. China produces 75% of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, the dominant technology, and controls more than half of lithium, cobalt and graphite processing and refining capacities.

But EVs is costly! Ok, but why? Batteries, basically!  The price of lithium carbonate jumped by nearly 500% last year, and a recent BNEF report projects 2022 will see the first increase in lithium battery prices in a decade [8].  In addition to the critical materials demanded by batteries, another critical mineral is required for electric motors: BEVs uses on average 2 to 5 kg of rare earth magnets.

References

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-25/lithium-the-hunt-for-the-wonder-metal-fueling-evs#:~:text=Lithium%2C%20the%20wonder%20metal%20at,yet%20to%20halt%20global%20warming

[2] https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2022/04/28/2431237/0/en/The-global-electric-vehicle-market-size-is-projected-to-reach-39-208-thousand-units-by-2030-from-an-estimated-8-151-thousand-units-in-2022-at-a-CAGR-of-21-7.html

[3] https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=50096

[4] https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2022/executive-summary

[5] https://www.evspeedy.com/ev-moving-parts/

[6] https://nordot.app/905985810833637376?c=445918389795193953

[7] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/metals-and-mining/our-insights/lithium-mining-how-new-production-technologies-could-fuel-the-global-ev-revolution

[8] https://www.grid.news/story/global/2022/01/18/china-is-owning-the-global-battery-race-that-could-be-a-problem-for-the-us/#:~:text=Meanwhile%2C%20global%20markets%20offer%20a,battery%20prices%20in%20a%20decade.