Electromobility - A look behind the scenes

The market for electromobility has continued to grow rapidly, with around 3 million cars sold in 2020. 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 electric cars in particular grew by around 2020% in 38. But where does the persistent increase come from?

The last milestone of 2018 million sold was in 4 Electric cars cracked. According to BloombergNEF, the interval in which one million cars were sold has been drastically reduced from 60 months (2015) to just six months (2018). China is still in first place in 2020 with 5 million electric vehicles, followed by the USA with 1 million and Germany with 1,77. According to the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden Württemberg (ZSW) The number of registrations of electric cars increased, especially in Europe, whereas the market in China and the USA tended to stagnate.

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China is one of the biggest drivers for the rapid growth in the field of alternative drive technologies. The ambitious goal of putting 2020 million new electric vehicles on the roads every year from 2 has unfortunately not yet been achieved. The corona pandemic can also be to blame for this. In addition, China has mandated that by 2030 at least 40% of all sales by automakers must be electric vehicles. Above all, the Chinese government hopes for a reduction in the climate-damaging greenhouse gas CO2 and better air quality in large cities.

In addition, regulations are further tightening the CO2 limit values ​​for newly registered vehicles around the world. It is becoming more and more 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 penalties.

Electromobility in an international comparison

Overview of new registrations of electric vehicles worldwide 2018-2019

Source: Center of Automotive Management (CAM). New registrations in 2018 vs. 2019. Figures for China rounded, including commercial vehicles; China and USA including FCEVs; Manufacturers in the USA partially appreciated; USA Q4 estimated.

According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority and Center of Automotive Management (CAM), new registrations of electric vehicles in Germany rose to 394.940, of which around 194.163 were electric cars. The market share climbed to 13,5%. This means that Germany ranks third worldwide for new registrations with its e-fleet, and even second for car registrations Million in 3, 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 499.000 copies of its S, 3 and X models sold in 2020. 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.

BMW has announced iX for the end of 2021. The brand intends to further establish itself in the electromobility market. The reasons that it took so long are the cost-intensive production and low profitability of modern e-cars. Many producers are currently making proven losses with their electric models. It is to be expected that it will take a few more years for the investments currently made to bear fruit.

Electric vs. gasoline, it is necessary to halve the costs

Production costs and the natural resources used play a major role in the implementation of mass production. In 1995, Nissan first launched a battery-powered car, the Joy model. The cost of the battery back then was $ 3.000 per kWh. With the help of technological advances, these have been reduced to $ 209 per kWh today. According to JP Morgan, these should halve further by 2025, which will achieve cost efficiency on par with gasoline-powered vehicles.

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

Manufacturers currently obtain the lithium required 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 depends on the number of electric cars that will be produced in the future. Furthermore, the raw material cobalt could turn out to be the Achilles' heel of electric mobility. 60% of the scarce resource required for production is obtained from the Republic of the Congo under controversial conditions.

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.

The forecast for new registrations with electric drive is currently estimated by JP Morgan at around 60% worldwide in 2030. Thereof 40% 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 pollutant-free locomotion. There are also very great efforts 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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