Is the future all electric?

To EV or not EV, that is the question.

The automotive industry has vowed to makeover the entire industry to electric vehicles by 2030 – but is this feasible asks Matthew Jaster, Senior Editor of Gear Technology magazine?

Certainly there are significant barriers to overcome. Range, affordability, charging infrastructure, lithium production, battery re-cycling and the impact on electricity networks.

His article describes how some of these challenges are being addressed.

The gear industry itself is rising to the challenge and the article includes a link to an AGMA white paper on the developments that are being made. See the article here.

But are we in danger of putting all our eggs in one basket? Many pundits suggest that bio-fuels will play a significant role in transportation of the future.

Meanwhile, BMW, Hyundai, Honda and Toyota have now developed hydrogen cell solutions that either are or will be available and these companies are placing significant investment behind hydrogen solutions.

Certainly, there are many advantages. Using existing re-fuelling infrastructures and being able to re-fuel in around 4 minutes make a compelling case. These alternatives also don’t impact on the existing national grid networks. This is seen as a problem if everything goes over to ev. A recent article in the UK’s Telegraph forecast the possibility of blackouts unless 30% more power could be made available. This is seen as a tall order given that many existing power networks are struggling to keep pace with demand now.

However, we needn’t see it as a competition between different methods of propulsion. Juergen Gulder, Head of Fuel Cell Project at BMW says, “Battery electric and fuel cells aren’t in competition, they complement each other.” Adding that fuel cells will suit customers who travel a lot or who have little access to charging. A mix of alternatives could help stabilise the electric grids.

So the future may not be solely electric but a mix of hydrogen and bio fuels as well. The possibility of this mix may have implications for the future development of the gear industry as well.