While the combustion engine car has been the star in the 20th century, it looks like the 21st century is going to be that of the electric car. The arrival of these vehicles could revolutionize not only the way mobility is conceived (and thus the expansion of a new recharge infrastructure to make its viability possible), but also the way in which those who are responsible for its manufacture, maintenance and repair work. Could it be like this? We’ll tell you below!

What happened so the electric car is getting recognition?

Two key factors have been joined so that electric vehicles are beginning their dominance in the world's automotive parks:

  • Climate change caused by high CO2 emissions
  • The need for an alternative to oil that has been taking place since the 1973 and 1979 crises

Over time, it has been battery-powered electric cars that have shown the best alternative for the future of mobility, and it is from 1990 when the first attempts to introduce it through the EV1 manufactured by General Motors between 1996 and 1999 began in the state of California. This car had a range of 225 kilometers that could be achieved in a single charge and could go from 0 to 100km/h in just 9 seconds.

However, at that time, with the introduction of hybrids and biofuels, they were favored by legislation, pushing EV1 into the abyss and having to stop selling for the losses generated.

But despite this, the critical global climate situation,and as a  result of the Paris Agreements in 2015, electric cars have moved back to the forefront, with more favourable legislative frameworks that are encouraging the improvement of the necessary technologies to increase the supply of these vehicles, such as batteries.

Electric car batteries: a key part

During the 1990s and 2000s, the search for the right battery was vital to make it possible the appearance of electric vehicles, as it exists many factors that need to be considered in battery designs, such as:

  • Energy density
  • Energy efficiency
  • Battery life cycles
  • Self-discharge and recharge rates

And other factors that we're not going to sling in this post.

The fact is that the battery that has managed to predominate have been those of lithium-ion, since, by their features, they are the ones that can provide greater autonomy to electric vehicles, as well as a high recharge rate, without thus damaging the energy efficiency of these batteries, as demonstrated by the  FastCharge project. In addition, it should be added that it has a high energy density (and is expected to be able to increase up to 500kWh by 2030), which is a win since it allows to give space to other components of the electric car such as controllers,  on-board chargers and, of course, the  electric motor(s).

It should also be said that lithium-ion batteries have a long life (up to 2,000 lifecycles).

However, one of the drawbacks it had so far was its high economic cost. By 2010 the cost of kWh of lithium-ion batteries was about $1,160, but with the rise of the electrification of cars worldwide, the improvement in this technology has been encouraged, and more and more car producers are opening centers where they manufacture these batteries, therefore increasing the supply. As a result, the price has declined by 85% compared to 10 years ago, reaching around 176US$/kWh. Not only that, but there are forecasts that say it will fall to $100 by 2022-2023.

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Legislation and demand drive electric vehicle

For example, under the new legislation that entered into force in the EU in 2020 where it dictates that new vehicles produced cannot issue more than 95g  of CO2, per kilometer, and the corresponding fine if they go beyond that limit, has caused car manufacturers to go to increase the supply of the electric range. Not only that of 100% electric vehicles (BEVs), but also plug-in hybrids (PHEV), and extended range (EREV) vehicles.

Groups such as Renault, PSA, VOLVO, FCA-Tesla, and BMW are completely immersed in the electric vehicle market. Toyota, of course, is a veteran in this market, as it was the first brand to massively manufacture a hybrid vehicle: the Prius. There are many other brands such as Mazda, Hyundai, among others.

This has made the range of electric cars boosted with various models, which will also tend to make the consumer more affordable. Not only that, but from the demand side there has been a significant increase, as in the case of Europe where electric vehicle registrations soared during 2020, representing a market share of 7%.

And this is only, according to Deloitte, the beginning of what is expected to boom, because by 2025, global sales are expected to escalate to 11.2 million electric vehicles, and by 31.1 million by 2030, led mainly by China (49% of sales), followed by Europe (27%) and  the U.S. (14%).

However, the European Commission has a greater ambition: 30 million electric vehicles by 2030, which means multiplying by 15 the current infrastructure that supports these means of transport, according to the European Association of Builders.

In short, if these trends are met, which apparently is the case, the way of working of the actors involved in the car manufacture, maintenance and repair will change radically.

The tools and accessories to be used are going to be totally different. But it will not stay there, but safety training will also be needed: protocols to follow, what tools to use for safe and efficient work, and how to use them.

But we'll talk about that in the next posts.

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