Electric cars, the obstacles to overcome for a real mass market

The electric car can play a crucial role in saving the world from climate change. The problem is that this promise has been repeated for decades. With the new sensitivity that humanity has acquired to the problem, then will it be the right time? The answer is uncertain.

The market looks optimistic. Ford says that from 2030 it will only sell electric cars in Europe.

General Motors plans to sell electric cars only from 2035. Volkswagen estimates to make electric cars cheaper than traditional ones. According to a Consumer Reports survey, two-thirds of U.S. drivers estimate the purchase of electric cars, thanks in part to tens of billions of dollars in incentives put on the plate by the Biden administration.

Yes, there has been a development technological and market in recent years; they remain, however historical limits of the electric that have not yet been overcome.

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Electric cars, how to overcome critical problems

When it comes to electric cars, three questions immediately arise: how much autonomy has the electric car, how long does it take to make one charging complete and how sustainable it is drums. “We as an industry association work to overcome obstacles,” he explains Francesco Nasoengineer and general secretary of Motus-E, the first association in Italy set up to create a system and push change towards electric mobility. Let’s see how.

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For expensive electric cars

“First of all, there is the question of purchase price. Because it is a technology in a nutshell, and according to the laws that govern innovation (such as Moore and Wright’s law, where technological advances and cost reductions gradually become faster and more significant as costs fall exponentially in the form of cumulative production), prices will gradually become sustainable. We can say this: we are at level 5-6, and we must reach level 9 ”, comments Francesco Naso.

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According to an analysis by Bloomberg, the cost of electric batteries has dropped by 87% since 2008. When the price of the battery drops to below $ 100 per. kWh – assumed $ 60 by 2030 – electric cars will be cheaper than traditional ones. However, with commodity prices and rising inflation, rising prices in China and problems in the chip market, there are fears of a halt in the fall in prices.

The charging stations

Another problem concerns the charging columns, which are directly linked to the range or autonomy of the cars.

The free market solves the problem of charging infrastructures. Until now, it has depended on the municipality whether it had been good at solving interoperability problems, placing obligations on the charging stations. Even calls from PNRR must ensure that the infrastructures are open to any mobility service providerfor let us remember that whoever installs it does not necessarily provide the service, ”Naso emphasizes.

Charging times

To Reload quite an electric car using a traditional system the required time is about 8 hours. Normal sockets can also be used. The automotive industry recommends using charging during the night to find the car “full” when you wake up.

Meanwhile, it is barely enough to charge the electric vehicle up to 80% of the battery capacity 20 minutes at the Enel X Store in Rome, the capital’s first ultra-fast charging station. Charging status can also be monitored via the app, so you know when your car is charged again.

To solve the problem of “range anxiety” – ie the fear of not being able to find a charging stand for your electric car before you run out of battery – the greater autonomy that is gradually growing and the increasingly widespread “fast and fast” infrastructures are contributing

The range of electric cars

Autonomy is actually growing. The Model E electric sedan, Pininfarina’s flagship designed for Foxconn, boasts a range of 750 km to address the range anxiety that plagues electric car users.

The Chevrolet’s Bolt family promises between 402 km range (EUV) and 416 km (Ev). The Ford Mustang Mach E, a 100% electric Ford SUV, provides a range of up to 610 km. The range of the Porsche Taycan promises 431 km of autonomy, but with the Performance Battery Plus, the autonomy increases to 484 km. Taycan can also be recharged from ultra-fast DC columns, up to 350 kW for the more powerful versions. In five minutes, it recharges enough to drive 100 km.

GaNFast technology

Navitas launched the solution GaNFasttechnology to i Gallium Nitride (GaN) battery chargera semiconductor more expensive than silicon, but which stands out for its high reliability, already adopted by brands like Xiaomi.

In combination with power supplies or battery chargers, GaN is able to reduce their size because it allows you to create ad hoc, smaller and more efficient integrated circuits.

Are the batteries durable?

But is battery disposal sustainable? “There is a lot of fake news about batteries: First of all, they last much longer than you expect. Battery life is pover six years. Moreover, it is not true that disposal of batteries pollutes: lead-acid batteries are much more toxic, which in any case are 98% recyclableincluding the plastic box.

When we talk about electric car batteries, ie There are two issues that need to be addressed: second life and recycling. By standardizing the process well, the obsolete traction batteries that need to be disconnected have a different lifespan: they can turn into batteries for static use like a photovoltaic system. In addition, the plants recycle more than 85% of the material. Since they contain valuable materials, batteries need to be recycled. Northvolt has already created the first cell with 100% recyclable materials. The most serious problem concerns the disposal of electronic batteries ”.

But are electric cars really green?

At this point, there is a crucial question: are we sure that electric cars are really green when coal is still the main source used to produce energy in the world, the same thing that goes into their batteries?

All in all, yes. In fact, electric cars are more efficient than hydrocarbon cars.

A 2020 study from the universities of Exeter and Cambridge in the UK and Nijmegen in the Netherlands concluded that electric cars lead to an overall reduction in carbon emissions, although electricity production is still dependent on fossil fuels. The results are reported in the journal Nature Sustainability.

Under current conditions, it is better for the climate to drive an electric car than conventional petrol cars in 95 percent of the world, the study shows.

The only exceptions are countries such as Poland, where the electricity grid is still largely based on coal-fired electricity production.

In countries with a highly decarbonised system such as Sweden and France, which have large amounts of renewable energy and nuclear production capacity, the lifespan of electric cars is up to 70% lower than for petrol cars, while in the UK, which is fast phasing out coal but still has a reasonable amount of gas-fired power plants, emissions are about 30% lower.

However, the sustainability of electric cars will have to grow further by increasing the share of energy produced from renewable sources.

“The digital world should communicate more with the world of electrification. The digitization of mobility has an even stronger effect than electrification. It would be time for to create culture and meeting moments between those who develop software and those who work with electrification: this would represent turning point for sustainability ”, concludes Francesco Naso.

The national recovery and resilience plan provides more than 50 billion for digitization: well above the 20% required by the European Union.

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