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Live reporting from AABC Europe 2012: when will EV uptake reach critical mass?

The third European Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC) is taking place in Mainz, Germany, until 22 June 2012. Chaired by Dr Menahem Anderman, AAB President, Session 1 of AABTAM focused on market development for electrified vehicles and advanced batteries, with the question on everyone’s lips: what is the turning point that will drive the EV mass market forward. cars21.com provides a summary of these discussions, in this first update from AABC 2012.

For Dr Menahem Anderman, pure EVs cannot make a breakthrough today, because of a mix of unsolved challenges such as short range, premium price, refueling time, operation at low and high temperatures, etc… Regarding hybrids, Dr Anderman thinks, “the success of the parallel-powersplit hybrid cars in reaching mass market depends on three features:

  • Limited to no customer sacrifice
  • No infrastructure requirements
  • Electric power used to supplement ICE, only when the ICE is insufficient”

Although one of the strongest market drivers is government regulation, OEMs always look for lowest-cost short-term options to meet the regulation, meaning there no production strategies are implemented that include a moderate/large share of alternative fuelled vehicles.

When will e-mobility breakthrough?

For Dr. Christof Horn, CEO of P3 Ingenieurgesellschaft, EV success will depend on leveraging emotional needs and desires for exclusivity, using such as tools as valet-parking for EVs and other well-known non-financial incentives (use of bus lanes, access to restricted areas such as city centers, etc…)

Concerning price, Dr. Horn stressed that “if battery costs were the only variable factor, equal costs between ICEs and Extended Range Electric Vehicles (EREV) would be achieved at approximately 100€/kWh”. However, this target seems unachievable in the next decade, as the agreed forecast by main analysts for 2020 is between 250 and 170€/kWh.

But will EVs always be more expensive than ICEs? Not really. Why: because of fuel emission standards. New targets are being set regarding maximum CO2 emissions for fleets arcross the world. In Europe for example, standards might be set at 95gCO2/km by 2020. For Dr. Horn, these targets will require efforts from OEMs to reduce CO2 emissions from their conventional cars and make them more expensive. “Cost disadvantages of primary electric vehicles (EREV/BEV) will turn into cost benefits between 2016 and 2018”, he added.

Battery market forecasts

According to Christophe Pillot, Director of Avicenne Energy, today Portable PCs & electronic devices drive the Li-ion battery, which only really started to compete against NiMH in 2012. However, M. Pillot acknowledged that “Li-ion is the solution for the future” but “safety and cost are still a big challenge” and strong partnerships and joint ventures are the way to go! In terms of worldwide Li-ion battery production, €8-9,5 billion will be necessary in manufacturing investments in 2009-2015, to reach a worldwide production above 50 GWh in 2015.

According to Avicenne Energy, total automotive battery demand in 2025 will be around 55GWh, around a third of the total battery demand worldwide. The PHEV and pure EV market will represent, in terms of Li-ion batteries, a €3,95 billion market in 2015 and €7,10 billion in 2020.