Electromobility - A look behind the scenes

The market for electromobility has grown rapidly, with around 2,1 million cars sold in 2018. But what are the drivers and how green are e-cars really?

Electromobility opportunities and risks, green mobility
Porsche Taycan, insights into the Porsche production 4.0. Source: Porsche

The market for Electric Mobility and especially electric cars grew by 2018% in 70. But where does the rapid increase come from?

In 2018 the milestone of 4 million was sold Electric cars cracked. The interval in which one million cars were sold has been drastically reduced from 60 months (2015) to just six months (2018). According to BloombergNEF, the 5 million mark was already reached in the first quarter of 2019. With the introduction of regional driving bans in major European cities and an upcoming quota for electric vehicles in China, an increase in the current momentum in the near future can be seen as guaranteed.

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China is one of the biggest drivers for the rapid growth in the field of alternative drive technologies. With the ambitious goal of putting 2020 million new electric vehicles on the roads every year from 2, the Chinese government is primarily hoping for a reduction in the climate-damaging greenhouse gas CO2 and better air quality in large cities.

In addition, CO2 limits for newly registered vehicles are becoming more stringent worldwide. It is becoming increasingly difficult for automobile manufacturers to achieve their fleet consumption with more efficient drives alone. Therefore, attempts are increasingly being made to use fully electric vehicle models to offset the CO2 balance of the entire fleet and thereby avoid possible fines.

Electromobility in an international comparison

ECars new registrations pn

Source: Center of Automotive Management (CAM). New registrations 2017 vs. 2018. Figures for China rounded, including commercial vehicles; China, USA and Norway incl. FCEVs; Manufacturers in the USA partially appreciated; Note: "Passenger Vehicles" in China 579.000 (2017) and 1.0.53.000.

According to the Center of Automotive Management (CAM), new registrations of e-cars in Germany have risen to around 68.000, which corresponds to an increase of 26%. The market share climbed from 1,6% to 2,0%, with the share of pure e-cars and plug-in hybrids almost evenly balanced (53:47 percent). This means that Germany ranks fourth with its e-fleet worldwide for new registrations and is one of the pioneers in Europe alongside Norway. Subsidies for the purchase of electric models as well as funding programs for innovation and technology should bring the fleet to 4 million in 1 and 2022 million in 6, according to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"From Production Hell to Logistic Hell". What is behind the testimony of Tesla CEO Elon Musk?

Among the producers, Tesla is the top seller with around 245.000 copies of its S, 3 and X models sold in 2018. This is closely followed by the Chinese manufacturer BAIC, which, in comparison, has launched over a dozen new EV models in recent years. Other manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi have only slowly started mass production of their luxury EVs from 2018.

Apart from its i3, BMW will not bring another model for mass production onto the market by 2020. The reason for this is the low profitability of modern e-cars due to the cost-intensive production. Many manufacturers are currently making proven losses with their electric models and it is to be expected that it will take a few years before the investments currently made will bear fruit.

Electric vs. Gasoline, the cost must be further halved

The production costs as well as the natural resources used play an important role in the implementation of mass production. In the year 1995 was first introduced by Nissan with the model Joy a battery-powered car on the market. The cost of the battery at that time was $ 3.000 per kWh. With technological advances, these have been reduced to $ 209 per kWh today and are set to halve, according to JP Morgan, to 2025, which could bring cost-effectiveness in line with gasoline.

The production of batteries takes place mostly in Asia. Tesla-based Japanese manufacturer Panasonic Sanyo is the market leader (40% market share), followed by Chinese producers.

Many European manufacturers, such as Bosch, have discontinued the project due to the high investment costs despite a clear request from Angela Merkel to advance the European development of battery cells. According to Bosch, a possible market share of 20% is offset by around € 20 billion in research and development costs.

Lithium-ion batteries are facing challenges

At present, manufacturers purchase the lithium needed for the production of the batteries from the countries with the highest raw material deposits - Chile, China, Argentina and Australia. How long the current lithium reserves will last will depend on the number of electric cars produced in the future. Furthermore, the raw material cobalt could turn out to be the Achilles heel of electric mobility. The scarce resource needed for production is sourced to 60% under controversial conditions from the Republic of Congo.

Voices against the hype surrounding electric mobility are particularly challenging the CO2-intensive production of lithium-ion batteries. According to life cycle analyzes by the ICCT, a CO2-neutral balance between a gasoline engine and an electric car would be achieved after 2-3 years. This value could be more than halved if the electricity used to produce and charge the battery comes exclusively from renewable energies. This illustrates the importance of the energy transition for the climate advantage of electric cars. In addition, increased mass production could enable more efficient production processes and further reduce emissions.

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Green Mobility relies on alternative technologies and raw materials

Car manufacturers are already working on alternative solutions to promote green mobility. The main trends are towards lithium-free solid-state batteries and hydrogen-powered automobiles. Samsung is currently using recycled lithium from old cell phones. Other chemical substances such as sodium or zinc and calcium can also be used as substitutes for the cobalt required. for electric cars

The forecast for new registrations with electric drive is currently estimated by JP Morgan at around 60% worldwide in 2030, 40% of which are hybrid EVs and 20% pure BEVs. As long as the charging infrastructure has not yet been expanded, bridge technologies such as hybrid drives can prevent impending driving bans in large cities and guarantee locally pollution-free locomotion. Likewise, great efforts are being made in the areas of autonomous driving and the networking of vehicles with one another in order to improve the flow of traffic and safety on the roads.

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