electric vehicles

Does the electric car really represent the future of clean mobility?

The electric vehicle is beneficial for the future of the planet. Will it be the future of transport? What will it take to make this happen? Elements of an answer.
It's tempting to think that in the not-so-distant future all vehicles will be electric, but nobody has any idea and there's a long way to go to get there. "It is with this enigmatic phrase that Professor John Heywood, a mechanical engineering specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), begins the interview. There is indeed interest in the subject. Automakers have invested at least $90 billion in these vehicles worldwide. according to an analysis by the Reuters news agency...PSA, Toyota, BMW, Daimler, GM, Volvo, Nissan, Porsche, Ford, Renault, VolkswagenTo name but a few, all of them have integrated several new electric vehicle models into their fleets and have set ambitious sales and launch targets. For example, PSA has announced that it wants to electrify 100% of its range in 2025 and Volvo wants to sell moreone million electric vehicles by 2025.
For the time being, however, fully electric vehicles - which operate with a lithium-ion battery - represent only a small percentage of cars on the road as sales. In the United States, for example, about 1% only of vehicles purchased new need to be recharged with electricity in order to drive. So what motivates car manufacturers? Is it a gamble on the future? Is the electric vehicle really the mode of transport of the future?

A greener mode of transport overall

Driving around the city with an electric vehicle is environmentally friendly, but it is also important to generate electricity in a clean way. "explains John Heywood. Thus... if you have an electric vehicle in West Virginia, it won't be any greener than a hybrid in California... "says Scott Mouraassistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Berkeley. And for good reason, in this eastern American state like " in most countries of the world, the majority of electricity comes from coal-fired power plants ", notes the MIT professor. « We need to change that and favour electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro or wind power. 
Following this recommendation would have a non-negligible impact on the environment given that almost a quarter of CO2 emissions in the world today are attributable to the transportation sector, and that oil and other liquid fuels represented 96% of energy used in global transport in 2012 according to the International Energy Agency. In the United States today, this share still amounts to 88%.
Nearly a quarter of the world's CO2 emissions today are attributable to the transport sector. It still needs to be significantly reduced if positive changes on the planet are to take place. One of the advantages of electric vehicles is that they can improve the air quality local compared to traditional vehicles since their circulation does not produce greenhouse gases. It is therefore, at least in part, out of ecological awareness that several States have decided to support this mode of transport both from a regulatory and financial point of view. In Chinas, the government incentives have made the country the world's largest market for electric vehicles. Beijing is also considering banning the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles (for an as yet undefined period of time), following the example of the France and the United Kingdom...ready to run on clean energy as early as 2040. The Indians have been even bolder, with a declared willingness to sell only electric cars from 2030 onwards. The auto manufacturers and battery is increasing announcements and partnerships to prepare for this, while the government is strengthening its infrastructure with, for example, the installation of the Charging stations in station car parks
But Norway remains the most advanced in the field: 32% of vehicles sold in this oil-producing country in 2017 are electric and this could be the case for all cars by 2025, in just seven years' time. This success would be largely due to generous government subsidies... (1). In the United States, the California is once again pioneering. " Nine other states have decided to impose the California standards (editor's note: strict rules for the sale of green vehicles) - This represents 35% of the market: car manufacturers cannot afford to ignore them. ", remarks John Heywood. The Golden State has already done half the work, but there is still a long way to go to reach the goal of 1.5 million vehicles with zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

A movement on the right road... but far from successful...

The transition to electric vehicles is happening, but it is not yet known whether it will result in 30 or 40% of clean energy cars, or rather 80%... I have doubts about the latter figure. "Professor Heywood has reason to be skeptical. The electric vehicle seems to be on the right track to become a must-have, but there are still many obstacles to overcome. Attitudes would not have changed much, according to a recent survey conducted by UC Davis University The percentage of vehicle-owning households that considered buying an electric car is no higher in 2017 than in 2014. 
Anything else holding you back? « The cost of the battery "quotes Scott Moura, also director ofeCAL (The Energy, Controls, and Applications Lab) at UC Berkeley. « Ten years ago, batteries cost $1,000 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). To give you an idea, if you do the math for a Tesla Model S with a 100 kWh battery, that's already a hundred thousand dollars just for the battery, not for the whole car. Today the cost of the battery has been lowered significantly to about 220 dollars/kWh, but it should be lowered further. "
The use of such a vehicle is nevertheless less expensive than that of a traditional car. According to one recent work conducted by Michigan's Transportation Research Institute of the University of Michigan, the average cost of operating an electric vehicle in the United States is $485 per year, compared to $1117 per year for a gasoline-powered car. In terms of charging infrastructure, the electric vehicle may require investment. « If you decide to buy an electric car you will have to buy a recharging solution at home, and this is sometimes expensive. It also raises the question of what a home is. Today in the United States it is a villa with a garage and a private driveway. But in this case, how many people own this type of home? Many still park on the street ", recalls Professor John Heywood. « If you use a simple socket in your garage to charge your car, you won't need any other infrastructure - it will just increase your electricity bill. However, it will take ten hours for a full charge - which won't matter if you're at home all night. But it's not as convenient, and even if you pay for a special charger, it won't go as fast as a full tank of petrol. ", notes Scott Moura.
If new batteries could charge in a few minutes, it could be a game changer. Scientists from Surrey University and Bristol University are working on the subject. and could be on the trail of a new material for energy-storing supercapacitors, which would allow recharging in less than ten minutes; but they still need to avoid discharging so quickly. In the meantime, the two experts agree on the importance of public charging stations.

The importance of recharging infrastructures

Unlike service stations found on every street corner, this infrastructure is still lacking in most states. Less so in California. « After the Volkswagen scandalCalifornia used the money received as compensation to deploy electric charging stations throughout the state. "The assistant professor at UC Berkeley is pleased to see the Golden State leading the way in the country with its 4 to 5% electric vehicles among the vehicles sold. However, Silicon Valley still needs to make progress. subsidize these cars to attract consumers. Up to $2,500 per vehicle in "clean air" incentives and $7,500 from the federal government in tax credits.
Nevertheless, Europe is still ahead of the game. All countries are using the same recipes to increase the number of electric vehicles - " and many have surplus electricity to sell. ". " The fact that fuels are cheaper and distances are longer in the United States also speaks volumes. "notes John Heywood. The range of electric vehicles, which does not always meet drivers' expectations, can also be an obstacle to the development of this means of transport. « At least psychologically ", says Scott Moura, " It requires organization to ensure that the car is loaded even though the range is usually sufficient. "But will we see a widespread awareness and a flood of green cars?
Predictions vary as to the number of electric vehicles to be expected on the roads in the coming years: 530 million by 2040 for Bloomberg or 266 million for theOPEC. One thing is certain: their number will increase. For Scott Moura, " When we reach 20% of electric vehicles, we will also see a similar number of autonomous vehicles, some via platforms such as Uber or Lyft. People will no longer need to own a car and worry about its autonomy, the platforms that will manage the fleets will take care of it and the vehicles will charge themselves by going to the terminals when they are not driving anyone. "
The widespread use of electric vehicles - if it occurs - will be a step forward for the protection of the environment, which will only be complete on condition that trucks...bus, buses and others shuttles are going down the same path.
Sophia QadiriEditorial manager - workshop. bnpparibas
(1) Norway is the leading market, in terms of penetration, for the electric car. There are 135,000 electric cars on the roads in this country of five million inhabitants. Electric vehicles are tax-exempt and are priced at the same level as their thermal equivalents. Their drivers do not pay city tolls, bridges or ferries, and they have reserved parking lots in city centres where they can park and recharge their cars free of charge.

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