Research Report Seeing the Future of Electric Vehicles

Author / Editor: Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx / Rosemarie Stahl

It is no longer contentious to say that the future of land, water and air vehicles is to be more and more electric. How this is achieved revolves around the electric motor far more than the more-discussed battery.

Electric Car Forecast.
Electric Car Forecast.
( IDTechEx)

By definition, an electric vehicle is driven by an electric motor for some or all of the time. These motors are becoming more sophisticated and multipurpose and there are more per vehicle. By contrast, the battery remains nothing more than energy storage; it is becoming smaller and increasingly abandoned all together. For example, super capacitors or fuel cells sometimes replace or partly replace the battery to achieve a longer life, a longer range or a better performance and sometimes there is no energy storage at all.

New EV end game

As described in the IDTechEx reports, the end game is EIVs – energy independent electric vehicles, some with no energy storage. You can even buy ones that wake with the daylight, being propelled solely by the electricity they make on-board from sun. Others use wind, waves and so on but the common factor is sophisticated motors, one Dutch solar car having a record-breaking 97% efficient motor. It is so efficient that the car donates electricity to the grid as well as doing its task of carrying several passengers around. On-road, off-road, marine craft and solar planes aloft for five years need motors that work on minimal power with minimal weight. They must be small too because aerodynamics and, in the water, drag matter crucially so the vehicle must be compact and streamlined. To see the future look at Formula One racing, Formula E racing, the latest supercars and yes, those EIVs.

Redefining the product

The value growth of the value market for traction REM systems in vehicles will particularly lie in the integration and expansion of device capability. For example, the key to a switched reluctance machine is not the very simple metalwork, compact, rugged and lowest cost. It is in the necessarily more-sophisticated controllers as they power John Deere agricultural strong hybrids down to some of the planned 48V mild hybrid cars.

Problems that are opportunities

How do we integrate flywheels with their own generators to REMs? How do we minimise the power-to-weight ratio of the whole propulsion REM system in the new electric aircraft and boats? Is IFEVS in Italy right to design propulsion units common to land, water and airborne vehicles? Is it one business? Can superlative efficiency translate into minimising or abandoning heavy, costly, bulky oil or water cooling in some cases? Where will the trend to less REM metalwork and more electronics go next? How do we best avoid the price hikes and temperature and stability challenges of permanent magnets in REMs? From Siemens to Continental, are those using asynchronous (AC induction) REM technology in buses, road cars, golf cars and forklifts on the right track? These challenges mean business.