Trends in the E-Mobility Industry 2022

As climate change accelerates across the globe, facilitating a fast and smooth transition into electric vehicles (EV) and electric mobility (e-mobility) is now at the top of the agenda for governments, transport ministries, and the automotive and mobility industries. With tremendous investment and efforts pouring into the transition over the past several years, we have seen significant improvements in the quality, usability, and performance of EVs and their supply equipment (EVSE).

AUTOCRYPT considers contributing to the transition to e-mobility of utmost importance. That’s why we exhibited at this year’s EVS35 (Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition) in Oslo, Norway to showcase our latest e-mobility solution EVIQ and propose our proprietary security framework for Plug&Charge (PnC). Being at the event also helped us gain insights into the latest trends in the fast-evolving e-mobility industry.

2022: The Tipping Point of EV Adoption

Although it can take quite some time before all vehicles on the road become electric, EVs are dominating new car sales in many countries. Norway, the leading country in EV adoption, showed a record-high annual EV market share of 86% over the year 2021, followed by another monthly record of 92% in March 2022. At this point, about 23% of all vehicles in use in Norway are EVs. Other leading EV adopters include Sweden, with an annual market share of 45% in 2021, followed by the Netherlands at 30%, Germany at 26%, Britain at 19%, France at 18%, and China at 15%.

Although Norway is currently the only country with an EV market share above 50%, there is little doubt that other countries will quickly catch up. Looking at Norway’s EV adoption pattern, it took about an equal amount of time for the market share to grow from zero to 20% and from 20% to 90%. This 20% mark can be seen as a tipping point, where adoption begins to accelerate.

EV Market Share in Norway (% of New Car Sales)

This pattern can be explained by two reasons. The first is peer influence. Whenever a new technology is introduced to replace an existing one, a great majority of people try to wait until the early adopters have fully tested the technology before making a purchase. This effect is especially salient when making a high-involvement purchase like a car. Once one in five people (20%) start to purchase the new technology, the worries dissipate, and the general population begins their adoption. When reaching a stage where two in five people (40%) go for the new technology, people begin to feel peer pressure and refrain from purchasing the older technology due to fear of being left behind and loss of resale value.

The second reason is of course the growth in EV technology itself.

Based on this pattern, we can estimate that the EV market share in the EU (currently at 20%) will likely reach 80% in five years, and China (currently at 15%) will reach 80% in six years. These estimates do not take into consideration the accelerating growth of e-mobility technology and infrastructure so; by taking that into account, the EV market share in both EU and China could potentially reach 80% in as soon as four years.

Even in slower markets like North America, 2022 is on track to becoming a promising year. Canada’s EV market share grew from 3.8% in 2020 to 5.6% in 2021, showing great potential of reaching the 10% mark within 2022.

Widespread Commercialization of Plug&Charge and V2G Technology

The V2G (vehicle-to-grid) communication interface defined by ISO 15118 is a protocol designed for bidirectional charging/discharging between EVs and chargers. Within the standard is a feature called Plug&Charge (PnC), which enables an EV to automatically prove its identity to the charger on behalf of the driver, then exchange its digital certificate with the certificate of the charger to allow for automated payment. To enable PnC, both the vehicle and the charging station must be PnC-compatible.

The initial years after PnC’s release showed slow progress. After the Plug&Charge section was first added to ISO 15118 in 2014, not a single OEM had a functional implementation until 2018. A few OEMs began demo testing between 2019 and 2020. Eventually, some exciting results were shown in 2021. Several vehicle models – including Hyundai IONIQ 5, 2021 Porsche Taycan, 2021 Lucid Air, and 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E – are now fully compatible with PnC. The same goes for charging stations. In 2021, both Electrify America and Electrify Canada deployed PnC to their charging networks in North America. Ionity also announced in late 2021 that all their charging stations across Europe are PnC-compatible.

Although it still seems like very few OEMs and charge point operators (CPOs) are implementing the technology, it is great news that PnC is now widely available for commercial use with mass adoption underway, and AUTOCRYPT is fully prepared to implement its AutoCrypt PnC secure charging framework to protect the personal and financial data of the driver during the PnC process, as cybersecurity has become a requirement in ISO 15118-20.

As for the bidirectional charging and energy distribution aspects of V2G, there are very few market implementations today, but the industry is making great progress. Many providers are beta testing V2G chargers capable of selling electricity back to the grid, with hope to bring bidirectional home chargers to the market in the next two years.

Elevated Environmental and Regulatory Pressure

Over the past decade, governments around the world have been using the incentive approach to encourage EV ownership. By subsidizing the costs of vehicle acquisition and e-mobility infrastructure development, EVs have now become affordable for most middle-income families. The availability of charging stations has also greatly improved.

With more climate disasters occurring across the globe, governments are now pushing forward a disincentive approach by putting regulations in place to “punish” carbon emitters. In 2020, the European Union’s Regulation (EU) 2019/631 entered into force, setting specific emission targets for OEMs. For every year between 2020 and 2024, the average CO2 emission for an OEM’s entire fleet registered in the year must be kept below 95 g/km for cars and 147 g/km for vans. If the average emission figure exceeds the target, the OEM must pay an excess emissions premium (EEP) at 95 euros per every g/km exceeded, multiplied by the total number of its newly registered vehicles in the EU in that year. To further incentivize EV production, the regulation also adds a super-credits system for low-emission vehicles with less than 50 g/km, by loosening the targets for OEMs that sell more of these vehicles.

As a simplified example, a 2.5 L gasoline-engine 2022 Hyundai Sonata has an emission rate of 182 g/km, which exceeds the 95 g/km target. If Hyundai wants to avoid paying the EEP, it must sell a lot of IONIQ 5s in that same year to both loosen the target figure (to above 95 g/km) and pull its total average figure down.

Starting in 2025, the target emission standards will become stricter and set out on a per OEM basis as a percentage reduction from their 2020 starting points, encouraging continuous progress.

Adoption of eMobility in Fleets

Electric vehicles are not only becoming popular among consumers, but many companies have started adopting EVs for commercial use. Mobility service operators were among the first to adopt all-electric fleets, because EVs today are easily capable of ranges above 350 km, well above the daily needs of most MaaS and taxi drivers. Additionally, since gasoline prices around the world nearly doubled over the past two years, the electrification of commercial vehicles has become a necessary cost-saving measure for many businesses.

A more exciting trend is the electrification of heavy-duty commercial vehicles like delivery vans, semi-trailer trucks, and buses. Only a couple of years ago, all-electric heavy-duty vehicles were considered barely viable due to technological limitations in batteries and motors. Thanks to accelerating technological growth and decreasing battery prices, heavy-duty EVs have become widely available, with over 100 models of heavy-duty electric trucks and buses in the market today.

Of course, infrastructure must also be upgraded to match the needs of heavy-duty EVs. Charge point operators are expanding their networks of high-speed DC chargers with charging speeds above 250 kW, which can charge a semi-truck in about two hours. Since time is crucial for logistics companies, charger manufacturers have also been working on Mega chargers specifically designed for trucks, namely the Megawatts Charging System (MCS). These charging systems are capable of charging speeds in the megawatts range, capable of filling a semi-truck in minutes.

Lastly, investing in an all-electric fleet also gives the fleet operator the potential of participating in V2G bidirectional charging when it becomes more available in the coming years, allowing the operator to make profits from their unused fleets.


AUTOCRYPT’s Work Towards Connected eMobility

As an automotive cybersecurity and mobility solutions provider, AUTOCRYPT plays a range of roles in bringing convenience and security to e-mobility. Starting from AutoCrypt PnC, a PKI-based security module that secures the PnC charging framework, AUTOCRYPT expanded its offerings by launching its e-mobility solution, EVIQ, an all-in-one EV information and charging platform that provides a Charging Station Management System for CPOs as well as charger locator maps for EV drivers.

To learn more about AUTOCRYPT’s e-mobility offerings, contact global@autocrypt.io.

To stay informed and updated on the latest news about AUTOCRYPT and mobility tech, subscribe to AUTOCRYPT’s quarterly newsletter.

COP26: How We Have Overcome Barriers to EV Adoption

What Happened at COP26?

The 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26, concluded on November 12 after two weeks of negotiations by world leaders in Glasgow, UK.

As a member of the International Transport Forum (ITF) Corporate Partnership Board (CPB), AUTOCRYPT’s Co-Founder and CEO Daniel ES Kim called for climate actions at the ministerial meeting on November 9, collectively with other business leaders on board, emphasizing AUTOCRYPT’s commitment to decarbonizing transport.

AUTOCRYPT’s “Call for Action” at COP26

The resulting agreement signed by nearly 200 nations was a historical one, but was not transformative enough to reverse climate change, as many scientists suggested. Despite a preliminary draft demanding nations to accelerate “the phaseout of coal and subsidies of fossil fuels”, after negotiations, a revised draft tuned down the rhetoric to “the phaseout of unabated coal and inefficient subsidies of fossil fuels”. Still, facing firm objection from China and India, the final agreement was changed to “the phasedown of unabated coal and inefficient subsidies of fossil fuels”.

Implications for the EV Industry

Regardless of the rhetoric, COP26 made an unprecedented emphasis on the criticality of fossil fuel exploitation to the ongoing climate crisis. The agreement specifically demands governments to phase down fossil fuel subsidies. Currently, about half a trillion dollars in subsidies were spent by governments worldwide to lower the price of fossil fuels for consumers, more than triple the amount spent on other renewable energies.

The new agreement will likely pose more pressure on manufacturers and consumers of ICE vehicles, making electric vehicles (EV) more financially appealing to both automotive OEMs and end consumers. But setting aside discussions of money and politics—let us go back to the fundamental question: Are we ready to fully commit to EV adoption?

Are We Ready for EV Adoption?

The short answer is yes. Today’s EV has come a long way from its early days. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, EV sales have grown exponentially, even in regions where government subsidies have been decreasing, showing that consumers no longer need financial incentives to purchase EVs. Most potential buyers in the car market today are seriously considering purchasing EVs.

The booming EV adoption rate is not simply due to increased environmental awareness, nor purchase incentives and tax breaks. It is more so a result of technological advancements in EV design, powertrain, battery, and supply equipment (EVSE), all of which contribute to better overall reliability. Below, we look at how these advancements helped the industry overcome all the barriers to EV adoption.

How Have We Overcome the Barriers to EV Adoption?

1. Range

In the early days of the EV, range anxiety was the biggest concern for all potential buyers. Many feared running out of power prior to reaching their destination. In 2013, the average range of all EVs in the market was about 219 km (136 mi), less than half the travel range of gasoline-powered vehicles, which on average can travel between 450 to 550 km (280 to 342 mi) on a full tank. Given that there were very few public charging stations back then, range anxiety was a real fear for EV owners. Even though 219 km was beyond the distance of most daily commutes, long-haul travels were virtually impossible due to the lack of public charging stations, making it a significant drawback as compared to ICE vehicles. As a result, most early adopters at the time only drove their EV as a second car for traveling within the city.

We are in a different world now. For the past five years, automotive OEMs and suppliers have dedicated large portions of their R&D spending on advancing battery technology and motor efficiency. Thanks to these efforts, the median range for EVs has exceeded 400 km (250 mi) in 2020. Most flagship models made by world-class OEMs can now travel longer than 450 km on a single charge effortlessly, with a few outperformers boosting a range over 600 km (see figure 1).

Figure 1. Longest EV Ranges as of October 2021

Clearly, ICE vehicles no longer have an advantage in range over EVs. This explains why even private taxi operators are now adopting EVs considering that a range of above 400 km is adequate for a full day of operation. By now, the EV industry has largely eradicated range anxiety.

2. Charging Availability

Having a long range was not the only cure to range anxiety. For many frequent travelers, having a charger at home does not help the long-haul overnight trips away from home. In this case, public EV charging stations allow the driver to top up their car during their trip, perhaps anywhere along the way or at the hotel.

The good news is that public charging stations have become very common. As of mid-2021, the United States has roughly 43,000 public charging stations and 120,000 charging ports. To put these numbers in perspective, there are an estimated 150,000 gas stations across the US, meaning that there is now one public EV charging station per every three gas stations. Considering the share of EVs in the automobile market, the number of EV charging stations per vehicle has already far surpassed that of gas stations.

Among the United States, European Union, and China—the three largest EV markets—the US is in fact the worst performer of the three. Looking at the EU, there are reportedly 225,000 public charging ports across the continent (excluding Norway and Turkey), nearly twice that of the US. And in China, there are nearly 924,000 public charging ports registered in mid-2021. Consumers in these well-established EV markets can now make long-haul overnight trips without the need to worry about charging. Moreover, the number of public EV charging stations is expected to grow at an astonishing rate. The EU is planning to establish a network of 1.3 million charging points by 2025, six times the current figure. Compared to gas stations, EV charging stations do not require additional space and are much cheaper and easier to build; most are installed on existing parking lots.

3. Charging Time

Recent developments in EVSE have also shrunk the average EV charging time remarkably. Most home chargers (7 kW) can easily charge a typical EV from empty to full in about eight hours. Fast and rapid chargers found at public charging stations (22 kW fast or 43-50 kW rapid) can fill up an EV in between one to five hours. These are especially common at office buildings, shopping malls, and service plazas near highways, where people can top up their cars for an hour or two while working, shopping, or eating. The fastest rapid chargers today (150kW rapid) can fill up a Tesla Model S in less than an hour and add up to 160 km of range in less than 35 minutes. Nonetheless, these chargers remain relatively rare and are not compatible with all EVs.

For the average consumer, charging time should no longer pose any inconvenience. Expect to charge at home about once or twice a week, while occasionally topping up at public charging stations during longer trips away from home. With a little planning ahead, you should be able to easily blend vehicle charging into your schedule and never need to spend a minute waiting for charging.

4. Charging Complexity

After overcoming all the above EV adoption barriers, the last concern for some potential EV buyers is the perceived complexity in charging. Those who use public charging stations frequently might find it a hassle to keep a handful of membership cards or mobile apps for different charging point operators (CPO).

To simplify this process, AUTOCRYPT is actively working with the EV charging industry to accelerate the application of Plug&Charge (PnC) technology, an advanced charging and payment system that automatically verifies the vehicle when the charger is plugged in, then authenticates the transaction in the backend without the need for any RFID cards or mobile apps.

This verification and authentication process is conducted by AutoCrypt PnC, a secure V2G (vehicle-to-grid) communication interface based on ISO-15118-compliant AutoCrypt PKI technology. By 2023, PnC-enabled charging stations with V2G bi-directional charging will be widely available.

Revolutionize Transport With AUTOCRYPT

Apart from electrification, AUTOCRYPT’s effort in securing Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) and autonomous driving will make our roads and traffic smarter, less congested, and more energy-efficient, helping us accelerate our goal towards net zero.

To learn more about AUTOCRYPT’s end-to-end solutions, contact global@autocrypt.io.

To stay informed with the latest news on mobility tech and automotive cybersecurity, subscribe to AUTOCRYPT’s monthly newsletter.

How Do Automotive OEMs Transition to Electric Vehicle Manufacturing?

Due to growing customer demand and tightening carbon emission quotas, nearly all automotive manufacturers today are undergoing a significant transition from producing ICE and hybrid vehicles to electric vehicle manufacturing, specifically battery-electric vehicles. Last month, Volkswagen Group announced its NEW AUTO strategy, a long-term plan that projected electric vehicles to make up 50% of the group’s total sales by 2030 and 100% by 2040. Earlier in the year, Hyundai Motor Group also unveiled its plan to increase its EV portfolio from the current eight models to 23 models by 2025. Other OEMs such as GM, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volvo all have ambitious plans to increase their EV portfolio and grab as many early adopters as possible in this booming industry.

Will Traditional OEMs Dominate Electric Vehicle Manufacturing?

Many tend to take it for granted that traditional major OEMs will naturally take over all electric vehicle productions. This is a fair assumption because the automotive industry has always had extremely high entry barriers due to the economies of scale—an absolute advantage firmly held by large global OEMs. While producing one vehicle might cost millions, producing 100,000 vehicles reduces the per-unit expense down to the thousands.

However, the above assumption has a major flaw; that is, it underestimates how different EV production is compared to producing ICE vehicles. When making a new model of a hybrid vehicle, the manufacturer can still use the existing frame, design, and powertrain of its gasoline-powered siblings, with only some modifications needed to the original assembly plant. On the other hand, to build a battery-electric vehicle, OEMs need to start from scratch and consider a whole different set of problems when designing the frame and the powertrain, such as how to best fit the batteries at the base. As a result, OEMs cannot take advantage of their existing ICE-vehicle assembly lines to make EVs, and hence lose the economies-of-scale advantage.

In fact, despite a vibrant automotive industry, these traditional OEMs are facing their biggest threats in decades, if not ever. Tesla has proven that a startup with no experience in car manufacturing can rise to become a market leader in the EV industry. Over the past few years, countless startups and even tech giants like Apple and Sony are all trying to gain a foothold in the market.

Nevertheless, despite losing their absolute advantage, traditional OEMs still have a better chance of winning the EV race as they have pre-established brands that are well recognized and trusted by consumers. Therefore, OEMs should take advantage of their beloved brands to make a smooth and bold transition into the EV game.

Brownfield vs. Greenfield: Two Strategies for Electric Vehicle Manufacturing

To start manufacturing electric vehicles, the first big decision that traditional OEMs face is whether to adopt the brownfield or greenfield strategy. OEMs that choose the brownfield strategy need to do a significant overhaul to their existing ICE-vehicle assembly line to accommodate an EV assembly line. This strategy is commonly adopted by an OEM at its early stages of the EV transition, when it does not expect high sales in the short run. However, adopting the brownfield strategy also means that the OEM must abandon some of their existing ICE-vehicle lineups to create rooms for EV production. The more EVs produced, the more ICE-vehicle sales it needs to sacrifice.

Another alternative is to adopt the greenfield strategy. That is, to establish new facilities and plants dedicated specifically to electric vehicle manufacturing. Doing so requires significant investment, and whoever has the most cash has the greatest advantage to begin with. By adopting this strategy, OEMs put themselves side by side with new market entrants like startups and tech firms.

What Advantages Do Traditional OEMs Have?

During this transition period, it is almost certain that some of the traditional OEMs will lose the race to new market entrants. However, traditional OEMs do still have certain advantages over startups and tech firms. First, their experience and knowledge in the E/E (electrical and electronic) architecture mean that it takes less time for them to design and develop new vehicle models. Moreover, the pre-established quality assurance system also ensures that their vehicles will be more reliable overall than those built by new market entrants. Additionally, the suppliers are evolving with the OEMs. Large tier 1 suppliers like Bosch and Magna are now providing EV parts and solutions, meaning OEMs with existing supply chains can save time and cost in looking for new suppliers.

However, traditional OEMs must be aware that these advantages are not as significant as the absolute advantage they used to have. Therefore, to establish a firm foothold in the new EV market, OEMs must utilize these advantages in an efficient way as early as possible.

New Considerations in Electric Vehicle Manufacturing

Amid the fierce competition, OEMs must also consider a wide range of new challenges in the EV manufacturing process. Most of these are related to charging and range. How far can the car travel on a full charge? How long does it take for a full charge? How many charging stations are available in a certain area? Can the power grid accommodate all charging needs during peak times?

To solve these problems, OEMs, charger manufacturers, charging point operators (CPO), and mobility operators are working towards a new solution that makes EV charging smart and seamless. Utilizing the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) communication interface, Plug&Charge (PnC) is an EV charging technology outlined by ISO 15118 to allow bidirectional charging with a seamless user identification and payment process. Plug&Charge infrastructure allows the driver to plug in their car at any charging station without the need to carry membership cards and credit cards.

To integrate Plug&Charge technology, OEMs must ensure that their vehicles have the security measures to allow the safe transmission of vehicle and payment data. This is AUTOCRYPT’s role as a cybersecurity supplier. AutoCrypt PnC secures the Plug&Charge process using a PKI-based security system made by cutting-edge encryption and authentication technology.

As the above example shows, electric vehicle manufacturing requires the collaborative work of a wide range of different parties extending into infrastructure providers and cybersecurity firms. OEMs that are willing to adapt to these changes have a greater chance of succeeding in this new market. To stay informed with the latest news on mobility tech and automotive cybersecurity, subscribe to AUTOCRYPT’s monthly newsletter.

Infographic: The Different Types of Electric Vehicles

The EV is an umbrella term for battery EVs, plug-in hybrids, hybrids, and fuel cell EVs. In this infographic we go through the different types of electric vehicles and their key differences.

(Accessibility version below)

types of electric vehicles

Electric Vehicles, or EVs, are all over the news. With demands on the rise dueto environmental concerns, we have seen many more EVs in the news and on the road.

But did you know? An EV is in reality, an umbrella term. Despite what many may think, EVs can still have a traditional combustion engine as well as a battery-powered motor, and can even generate electricity without plugging into a charge point.

Take a look at the different types of electric vehicles (EVs) and all the different components they utilize to operate properly on the road.

  1. HEV – Hybrid Electric Vehicle
    • Utilizes traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) with electric propulsion, meaning that the ICE charges the batteries to power the electric motor
    • Still requires fuel to operate, though it has a higher fuel economy than ICE vehicles
    • Less carbon emissions than ICE vehicles
    • Heavier weight because of the components involved
  2. FCEV – Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle
    • Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to product electricity, which runs the motor
    • The battery captures braking energy, conserving extra power to smooth out power from the fuel cell
    • Emissions are simply water vapor and warm air
    • Vehicles can be more expensive and difficult to refuel due to the lack of fuel stations
  3. PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle
    • PHEVs can be charged for power, and runs mostly on the electric motor
    • Still utilizes fuel to power the ICE, but the engine is considered backup
    • Prices can be higher than other vehicles
    • Less fuel consumption, less carbon emissions
    • Heavier weight due to the components involved
  4. BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle
    • No ICE, powered by electricity only. The vehicle plugs into a charge point to recharge the battery
    • No emissions, and lower maintenance
    • Charging can take time, and range anxiety can limit driving distance
    • Prices can be higher than conventional ICE vehicles, but more affordable models are launching as demand rises.

Secure it First. No matter what your vehicle is fueled by, without proper protocols in place, systems can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks. EVs are no exception. Particularly for BEVs, communication between the vehicle and charge point, as well as its servers, could pass along sensitive information like 1) Credit card / payment information, 2) Personal Identification Information (PII), and 3) Vehicle data.

Ensure that your charge point operator and mobility operator’s systems are in compliance with ISO-15118 standards for V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) communication. This will ensure that both the vehicle and charger’s certificates are verified and safely delivered, making your EV ride a secure one.

AutoCrypt PnC secures the EV and its supply equipment during the Plug&Charge process, providing secure communication and certificate management. For more information, visit our product page!

The Future of the Car: A Paradigm Shift of the Century

A key characteristic of the fourth industrial revolution is that conventional machines and electronics are reinvented or combined into “smarter” all-in-one products, blurring their original definitions. For instance, the smartphone was reinvented by combining a conventional cellphone and a computing device. The smartwatch was created by combining a conventional watch and a computing device. The smart speaker was a combination of a conventional speaker and a computing device. The list goes on. Instead of drawing new things out of scratch, the fourth industrial revolution seems more like an overhaul to our existing world, where we reinvent existing items and redefine their purposes, often by combining them with computing capabilities and connecting them to the cloud. What’s more interesting is how people’s perceptions and attitudes towards these products change as they experience and interact with them. Since these reinvented products tend to serve a variety of purposes that overlap with one another, users have more options available at their hands to do the tasks needed, making daily lives more seamless.

The automotive industry is no exception. However, changes here are less visible as they occur at a slower pace. Perhaps it is because cars are relatively expensive items with longer lifecycles, or because cars directly determine our physical safety, or that cars have been around for much longer compared to other electronic devices and appliances. Indeed, since the world’s first engine-powered vehicle was invented by Carl Benz in 1885, essentially the same car concept has been with us for more than a century now. Yes, the appearance of cars has evolved considerably, but their functionalities and benefits have remained unchanged. For over a century, people have viewed the car as a mode of transportation for people and goods from point A to point B.

With the fourth industrial revolution, we are finally starting to witness a change to the century-old definition of the car. This enormous paradigm shift can be characterized by several seemingly unrelated industry trends.

2000s: Car Tech

For many decades, the only digital technology the average car had was the radio. Yet, starting in the 2000s, new technologies began to emerge, one after the other. From GPS navigation to Bluetooth, hands-free calls to voice command, phone mirroring to video streaming, the car had become a sophisticated computer with countless features.

As people interacted with these new features, their perceptions and expectations changed. These changes made it more challenging than ever for automakers to build a satisfactory car. In the past, a car was judged only by quality, comfort, and performance. Excelling any two of the three aspects would pretty much guarantee success. This was how big and prestigious automakers survived all these years of competition. But even the big names are facing difficulties today because consumers are so used to car tech and demand more and more of these tech features manifested in the most intuitive and useable manner.

The increased demand for car tech signaled the beginning of the paradigm shift; cars were no longer a simple means of transportation, but an experience to enjoy.

2010s: The Growing Popularity of SUVs

This is by far the most visible change that can be easily observed by anyone attentive to the road – sedans are being taken over by SUVs. Almost every automaker worldwide has reduced sedan lineups, favoring prioritization of the rollout of SUVs. Even OEMs that traditionally focus on the niche market are now abandoning sedans and moving to SUVs as an attempt to capture the mass market. Porsche is a typical case where the brand repositioned itself from a sports car brand to a brand focused on luxury SUVs. Even Rolls Royce, Bentley, and exotic makers like Lamborghini are adding SUVs into their flagship lineups.

Statistically, the market share of SUVs has increased dramatically over the past decade. Between 2010 and 2019, the global market share of SUVs in total car sales increased from 17% to 41%, with the figure reaching as high as 50% in the US. In a matter of a decade, SUVs have become the most popular car segment on every continent.

Why are SUVs becoming more popular? While there are many hypotheses, most of them point to a change in the general public’s perception. SUVs can make people feel more powerful, and while sedans are built with performance in mind, SUVs allow for more space and a greater onboard experience, rather than the drive itself. Therefore, since the paradigm of the car is shifting away from driving and more towards the onboard experience, there are simply fewer and fewer reasons to buy sedans over SUVs.

2020s: Environmental Responsibility

For decades, cars have been blamed as a major culprit for climate change and global warming. This forced the industry to seek more sustainable options, going from gasoline to hybrids and now towards electric. The electrification trend is less related to the car itself, but more of a result of external pressure.

Why has the electric car gained popularity in such a short period of time? This can be attributed to multiple reasons, such as better battery technology, success in Tesla’s marketing campaigns, and increased environmental awareness worldwide. But the most critical reason behind this trend is that people are gradually seeing cars as more of an innovative tech than a conventional machine. Since the paradigm shift has already blurred the definition of the car and changed public perception of what a car should be like, it is now a lot easier for people to adopt electric vehicles. It is also easier for EV makers to experiment with bold and exotic designs.

An interesting phenomenon is that the more people interact with electric cars, the more their perceptions of the car will shift towards them. This again further accelerates the process of EV adoption. Based on this effect, it certainly won’t be long before EVs surpass ACE vehicles in sales.

2020s: Autonomous Driving

Autonomous driving has been one of the most controversial topics in the automotive industry due to a wide range of concerns on safety and legality. Now, with the advancement of big data and artificial intelligence, along with the increased stability of the cellular network, the public is now finally ready to trust the car to drive itself. Even though most of the current semi-autonomous vehicles rely on cameras and sensors, this is about to change as V2X technology starts to roll out in newer vehicles. When V2N technology gets adopted by the mid-2020s, many of the vehicles on the road are expected to reach full autonomy.

Again, the public’s increased acceptance for autonomous driving is not only due to technological advancement, but rather, caused by the paradigm shift. Reemphasizing the point that cars are now more associated with their onboard experience rather than the driving experience, people are more willing to let the car do the driving and focus themselves on the cabin experience.

2020s: Mobility as a Service

The paradigm shift has redefined the car to become less of a transportation tool and more of a mobility experience. Now some may ask, what about those who only want a simple transportation tool without having to own a bunch of add-on features? Those needs can be answered by a new market: mobility-as-a-service (MaaS).

For those who choose to not purchase the complete experience and only want a minimalistic ride, MaaS is becoming an appealing alternative to owning a car. With the help of big data and machine learning, ride-hailing and ridesharing services are becoming increasingly popular among those who do not like owning cars. Advanced fleet management systems allow the operator to perfectly match vehicle supply to passenger demand, dispatching the perfect number of vehicles to each area in need, and automatically carpooling those on the same routes. These on-demand services will completely transform public transportation so that people no longer need to look for bus stops and are no longer confined to living near subway lines.

The New Paradigm: A Lifestyle on the Go

In essence, the car is becoming less and less of a transportation tool and more of a mobile home characterized by entertainment, convenience, and comfort. With more and more workers working remotely, people are now having more time and freedom to live and travel to any place they like. The car represents this dynamic lifestyle, offering a private space that feels like home, with all the enjoyment, convenience, and comfort of home. Only automakers that can best adapt to the paradigm shift will survive the 2020s.

Reusing and Recycling Electric Vehicle Batteries: A Bright Future

Are Electric Vehicles Environmentally Sustainable?

Have you ever heard of anyone talking about how smartphones are environmentally friendly because they do not generate emissions? Probably not. Instead, you would more likely hear criticisms on the build-up of electronic wastes. Then why do we think electric vehicles (EVs) are green?

EVs are only green because they are relatively greener when compared to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Yet, when speaking absolute terms, there is still plenty of room for improvement because environmental friendliness does not equal to environmental sustainability. Even though EVs do not generate emissions during usage, pollution could still potentially occur during two other stages: the power generation stage and the battery disposal stage. Whether EVs are truly environmentally sustainable heavily depends on these two factors.

Pollution at the power generation stage has long been a widely discussed topic for decades. Yet, this is not something to criticize the EV for because it is not a problem within the EV itself. Moreover, there is a clear solution for it; we all know countries around the world are working hard towards increasing their share of renewable energy consumption. Thereby, pollution at the power generation stage will gradually decrease in the long run, eventually reaching environmental sustainability.

On the other hand, most skepticism and resistance of the EV stem from the potential pollution at the battery disposal stage. This is because it is a new problem created by the EV itself. Even though in fact we are eliminating a larger problem by creating a smaller problem, our minds are wired in a way in which losses loom larger than gains, as Kahneman and Tversky’s Prospect Theory suggests. Therefore, to completely persuade all people to adopt EVs, we must eliminate this potential electric vehicle batteries’ disposal problem first.

What Does an EV Battery Look Like?

Two types of batteries are commonly found in EVs. First, there is the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery, which is by far the most used battery in EVs today thanks to their low manufacturing cost and ability to retain power. The second type is the nickel-metal hydride battery, which has the advantage of a longer lifecycle. However, they are almost solely used in hybrid vehicles because of their high self-discharge rate – a problem critical to battery electric vehicles (BEV) but not so much for hybrids. (In a previous infographic, we broke down four types of EVs and discussed their pros and cons. For a recap on that, refer to: The Different Types of Electric Vehicles.)

Lithium-ion batteries are the same type of battery used in consumer electronics like smartphones. While a smartphone battery contains a single cell, a EV battery pack consists of thousands of such cells. Due to such scale, EV batteries last at least eight to ten years, or 160,000 kilometers before their performance start to drop. This is a significantly longer lifecycle than smartphone batteries, which only last two to three years. However, the scale of the battery packs also creates a challenge in disposal.

How Can Electric Vehicle Batteries be Treated at Their End of Life?

The global production capacity for lithium-ion batteries today is ten times that of ten years ago, partially due to the increased demand for smartphones, but largely due to the demand forecast for EVs. At the same time, the first generation of BEVs and hybrids are now reaching their end of life, meaning that we are now facing the beginning of a massive wave of retired batteries waiting to be treated. As the ticking time bomb starts to run out of time, a lot of controversies started arising on whether EVs are truly an environmentally sustainable means of transportation.

This is indeed a problem, but not an unsolvable problem. Environmental engineers have been working on a wide range of possible solutions to treat retired batteries. It is only a matter of time before the industry adopts these solutions.

Most energy experts suggest a two-step solution, that is to reuse the batteries to their fullest, and recycle as many of the components as possible. Let us take a deeper look at how these can be done.

First, Reuse

A battery is only completely dead when it can no longer be reused to power anything. For instance, after a set of alkaline batteries get retired from powering an RC car, they can still be used to power TV remote controls for another six months. The same idea goes for electric vehicle batteries. Engineers suggest using retired EV batteries for less demanding purposes, such as storing energy to power houses and buildings. This is especially considering that EVs have very high requirements for batteries, such that a 20% drop in battery capacity would end up needing replacement. Hence, after a battery pack becomes no longer fit to power a car, it would most likely be still perfectly fine for less demanding tasks. It is estimated that a retired EV battery pack has enough collect-discharge capacity to power a solar-powered house for another seven to ten years.

Many automotive manufacturers are quickly stepping into the game to capture this blue-ocean market. Toyota has signed a contract with 7-Eleven in Japan to install retired electric vehicle batteries from their cars in 7-Eleven convenience stores. These batteries would be used to store energy collected from solar panels and use them to power the appliances in the stores. GM, BMW, and BYD are also looking for ways to reuse their batteries to power homes, stores, and car charging stations.

Then, Recycle

Of course, after reusage, batteries will eventually reach a point where they are no longer functional for any task. This is when they finally need to be recycled.

The recycling process for lithium-ion batteries is called hydrometallurgy. The most common method of hydrometallurgy used today is called leaching, which requires the use of strong acid to dissolve the battery into a liquid metallic solution, then separate the solution to recover the raw materials. This process is not easy because it requires the recycler to first remove the plastic coating on the batteries and completely drain the power out of them first. Since lithium-ion batteries do not have standardized sizes, it is very expensive for third-party recyclers to perform all these tasks. As a result, only 10% of lithium-ion batteries today – mostly coming from electronic devices – are recycled. Even among those 10% recycled, only about half of the components are recovered as raw materials, with the other half being dumped.

Do not be discouraged by such a low figure, because it is not a result of technical challenges, but instead due to a lack of readiness. Hence, as the industry starts to take appropriate measures to adapt to these changes, the future is very promising. With standardized battery sizes, standardized packaging, and dedicated recycling facilities, the recycling cost can be remarkably reduced. Moreover, if automakers start to recycle their own batteries, it is totally possible to reach a recycling rate above 90%.

To put it in perspective, the recycling rate of lead-acid batteries found in gasoline-powered vehicles is 99.2%, in which 99% of the lead is recycled. Alkaline batteries also have a recycling rate above 90% thanks to their standardized sizes and components. Therefore, it is only a matter of time until EV batteries match these figures.

Many news startups have been created to compete in this aftermarket. Automotive manufacturers around the world are also starting to take the responsibility of battery recycling. For example, Volkswagen Group Components, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, has been created to fully dedicate its work into battery recycling, with its goal of returning 97% of the components inside a battery back into the manufacturing process. The Chinese government even went a step further by making a law that requires car manufacturers to take full responsibility in recycling their batteries.

In the end, as the demand for batteries continues to rise, the recycling industry is expected to catch on quickly within the next few years. Energy researchers are expecting that by 2025, about 75% of all electric vehicle batteries will be reused for different purposes, then broken down and recycled to use as raw materials again in the manufacturing process.

A Bright Future for the EV Industry

Even though EVs might not be completely environmentally sustainable yet, the long-term prospect is promising. As the battery reuse and recycling industry catches up, EVs will soon become a critical part of the renewable energy supply chain. To learn more about the EV’s role in the power grid, read: How Plug&Charge Might Make EV Charging a Lifesaver.

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