There will be several million electric cars on the road by the end of the decade. Here are the innovations that will strongly boost the sector.
You certainly know if you follow this Green Zone section, we regularly engage in small forecasting exercises, just to imagine a little about the electric mobility of tomorrow. Not that the sector is not innovating fast enough and strong enough, but it is always interesting to project a few years ahead in order to anticipate what the electric car and its ecosystem could be, say at the end of this decade. , where there will most likely be several million zero-emission vehicles in circulation in France and several tens of millions on a European scale.
Connected cars, planners, sophisticated energy management systems, efficiency, fast-developing networks… One might think that mass is said that the major iterations of innovation in the field are already behind us. Maybe, but not sure…
In any case, here is what we see in our crystal ball for 2025-2030. Which is only ours, of course.
It is probably one of the technologies on which the greatest expectations are based in the field of automotive electrification. These are therefore batteries that use a solid material instead of liquid as the electrolyte to store and supply energy. To put it simply, lithium-ion batteries use a movement of electrons between two terminals, the cathode (positive pole) and the anode (negative pole), which are immersed in a conductive substance called an electrolyte. In the case of lithium-ion batteries, this electrolyte is a liquid derived from petroleum.
With the solid-state battery, a solid material, which can take the form of a polymer or some kind of ceramic, is used instead of the liquid electrolyte. It’s not recent, the technology has been around for more than 30 years and was already used by Bolloré Bluecars. Solid-state batteries are considered the next stage of battery development for electric vehicles. The benefits are many: greater safety, longer life, faster charging and better energy density compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries. Also, unlike lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries do not contain flammable liquids and cannot leak or break down, making them more reliable and safe for use in electric vehicles.
So why aren’t these batteries used yet? Because they still have some disadvantages. First, the technology is not yet fully developed. It is indeed very difficult to design a solid electrolyte which is both very stable and very conductive. On the other hand, they offer a shorter lifespan, with a number of recharge cycles almost twice as low as that of electrolyte lithium-ion batteries. Finally, even if the promise is to lower costs compared to lithium-ion, the latter remain on a large scale still much higher for the moment.
However, many manufacturers, manufacturers and even start-ups have already embarked on the project. This is the case, among others, of Honda, Nissan (which has already set a deadline of 2028), BMW, Ford, Volvo, Mercedes and young companies such as QuantumScape or Prologium. Small downside, Tesla is going it alone by apparently having no plan on the subject, preferring to favor its line of 4680 batteries.
Difficult to predict the future of this technology, but it is already a reality, and also seems promising. In essence, imagine your car has two batteries, one for short trips and the other for long trips. This is the idea behind dual chemistry batteries, which combine the best of both worlds in one pack. A dual chemistry battery combines two different types of chemistry, usually lithium-ion and lead-acid, into a single battery system. The lithium-ion component provides high energy density, while the lead-acid component provides high power density. The combination of these two chemical components results in a battery with longer life, better durability and better performance than single component batteries. Tesla and BMW served as labs for visibly spectacular range tests with Gemini dual-chemistry batteries from start-up Our Next Energy (ONE)
V2G and two-way charging
A little reminder for those who do not know what is hidden behind this acronym. V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) is a protocol that allows an electric car to function as a mobile energy source for the electrical grid. This means that the car can supply electricity to the grid when not in use, using its battery. This concept was developed to help balance the demand and supply of electricity in the grid, as well as to reduce electricity costs for owners of electric vehicles. The advantages of V2G are numerous. First, it can help stabilize the power grid by providing power when there is a high demand, which can reduce blackouts. Plus, allowing EV owners to earn money (or credits or points) by “selling” electricity to their local grid.
Beyond simple V2G, there are other similar technologies, such as V2H (Vehicle-to-Home) and V2L (Vehicle-to-Load). The V2H allows an electric car to supply electricity to a house or a building, while V2L allows an electric car to supply electricity directly to another electric car (the 2.0 version of good old tank siphoning in fact).
If the cars equipped with bidirectional charging available on the market can still be counted on the fingers of one hand (KIA EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Nissan Leaf, etc.), many manufacturers are beginning to take a serious interest in the question, such as Renault , as well as young companies, such as Dreev, a subsidiary of EDF. Probably one of the most promising technologies of the next few years.
The war of operating systems (well, well…)
Admittedly, a car is not a computer, but in certain aspects it is very close to it, especially with certain somewhat Californian brands…
It must be said that the GAFAM, we very quickly understood the fantastic opportunity that the automotive market represented to continue to develop its know-how in terms of extraction, management and redistribution of data. The car is in this respect an inexhaustible mine, since a car is probably one of the consumer objects that include the most sensors. But the source of data does not stop at the technique or the simple behavior of the car. Its driver and its occupants are also in focus, because what happens in a car is also rich in lessons of all kinds. From the music or radios listened to, to the routes taken (and their frequency), to the number of occupants and the style of driving, everything can be captured, recorded, dissected.
Something to whet the appetites of some software giants, who didn’t wait very long to look into the matter. First by providing an overlay of services and applications via the telephone, such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, then by offering real OSes integrated much more deeply into the electronic management of cars. This is particularly the case with Android Automotive, the latest and most advanced version of which equips the Renault Mégane e-Tech with some success, and in a less successful version, the latest generations of Volvo, including electric ones. But Google won’t be alone in this territory for long since Apple will soon be providing a similar system, which will take over all the software management of cars, and not just the display of applications on the central screen.
So, can we imagine that in the long term, manufacturers will rely entirely on Google or Apple (and perhaps others to come, Amazon, Microsoft?), and that the cockpits of our cars will end up standardize according to a single standard? Maybe not, but it’s a safe bet that there will be a few software bricks from Silicon Valley in most of them.
Wireless charging, static or dynamic
Another advancement that could develop in the next few years is wireless charging. Thanks to inductive charging technology, much like the wireless charging of smartphones and household appliances, electric cars could one day be recharged simply by parking in certain dedicated spots. This technology includes above all a practical advantage of use and ergonomics. What could be more tedious than having to take a cable – often dirty – out of your car, manipulate it (5 meters and 5 kilos on average) to recharge, and start the maneuver again when you leave? Plugging in an electric vehicle isn’t a huge burden, but not plugging it in is certainly easier. Charging infrastructure could thus develop more quickly and easily than before, since it could be added to existing infrastructure, such as parking areas, roadsides, and of course the garage of individuals.
Marginal, wireless charging? Not really if you listen to the experts and forecasters on the subject. according to a study that has just been published, the future of the EV wireless charging systems market looks bright with opportunities in the passenger cars and commercial segment. The global market for wireless charging systems for electric vehicles is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 50.9% between 2021 and 2027, with already firmly established leaders like Witricity predicting a bright future.
But contactless or induction charging is no longer reserved for parked electric vehicles. The roadway can also be equipped with an energy infrastructure that would make it possible to recharge a wheeled vehicle. A few experiments are being conducted, like this one, in the German city of Balingen, which could represent a glimpse of what the future of electric vehicle charging could be. A kilometer of road that will be the setting for the first public experience of “wireless charging” in the world, with the aim of showing that this technology considered ambitious and futuristic can now work in the real world.
Among the advantages, of course, the possibility of recharging without stopping, and consequently that of installing less imposing batteries, and therefore less heavy, in cars.
Autonomy, recharging, on-board intelligence, so many tracks to follow closely to get an idea of the evolution of the electric car during this decade. There will be other innovations, this time more directly concerning the vehicles and their on-board technology, we will come back to them in a future Green Zone.