By the end of 2013, nearly 400,000 plug-in electric vehicles will be driving on roads around the world, according to a new white paper by Pike Research.
The study predicts that more than 210,000 plug-in electric vehicles will be sold globally in 2013 and more than three dozen new models will come onto the market, outpacing the first years of hybrid vehicle sales.
Here are 10 predictions the report makes about the continuing evolution of the market in 2013 and beyond.
- Capital veers from vehicles to battery components: Private funding for electric vehicle (EV) companies looking to start a business or expand has largely dried up. Investment in battery companies however has been robust during the past four years, but during 2013, expect investment to shift toward developing battery components, rather than companies that develop complete packs. For 2013, chemical conglomerates, such as Dow Energy Materials and BASF, will continue to invest heavily in anode, cathode, and electrolyte material research and development. Established players will face increasing competition from smaller companies and start-ups.
System integration puts electric bikes on the map: The number of brands offering e-bicycles has exploded in recent years. This trend is predicted to continue with sales of e-bikes in North America expected to grow by more than 50% in 2013 to more than 158,000 bikes. Globally, the e-bike market will grow by 10% to more than 33.6 million units during the year.
48-volt batteries put a charge into stop-start systems: The stranglehold of the 12-volt battery over EVs will begin to loosen in 2013 as these vehicles demand increasingly more power and reliability. Several battery manufacturers including AllCell Technologies, Balqon, and Saft are stepping up with 48-volt lead-acid and lithium ion offerings.
More than 3,400 fuel cell vehicles hit the road: Pike Research projects that 3,442 fuel cell vehicles will ship in 2013 from vendors that include Toyota, Daimler, Hyundai and Honda. However, the majority of these vehicles will not reach consumers’ hands. They will be deployed through agreements with fleets and made available to qualified participants in public trials.
Battery swapping gives way to battery financing: Battery swapping pioneer Better Place has faced considerable challenges to get its technology adopted and, although the battery swapping idea still has its proponents, the focus is likely to shift from fleets to even more specialized applications, such as taxis. The idea of separating the vehicle and battery cost will however grow in 2013 as more companies are likely to follow the lead of Renault and lease the batteries separately. A lease option greatly reduces the upfront cost of the vehicle, while also reducing the uncertainty of real-world battery performance. Corporations are much better equipped to repurpose end-of-life EV batteries than individuals and will be able to sell into the growing market for grid energy storage. Battery leasing has also been adopted by Mia Electric and Daimler in Europe, and will begin to spread to Asia Pacific and North America by the end of 2013.
Germany leads Europe’s plug-in electric vehicles growth: Like other regions of the world, the European plug-in electric vehicles market has developed more slowly than expected. The largest German automakers have trailed their counterparts in Japan and the US in launching electrified vehicles, but in 2013, they will come to market with at least seven models that will energize sales throughout the continent.
Coasting technology pushes internal combustion engine vehicles closer to hybrids: Yet another technology that blurs the line between hybrid electric vehicles and conventional internal combustion engines will become popular in concept vehicles that will be showcased during 2013. Stop-start technology, which is now popular in Europe and spreading to all four corners of the globe, enables a conventional vehicle engine to turn off when the brake is depressed and the car slows to a stop. That same concept is extending to enable an engine to be shut off when going downhill or at other times when the driver’s foot comes off the accelerator, and then restarted as necessary; this is known as a fuel-efficient coasting technology. According to early results from companies including Audi and BMW, coasting technology can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 10%.
Slow versus fast charging debate intensifies: During 2013 there is predicted to be greater diversity of charging rates as the lines between fast and slow charging begin to blur. Some host sites will opt for less expensive slow charging equipment, especially in the workplace where many employee vehicles spend four to eight hours parked, while and a few new fast-charging networks, such as Tesla Motor’s Superchargers, will begin to dot the landscape.
- Europe enables driving without borders: E-mobility not only requires a network of AC and DC charging stations at strategic locations, but also a communications infrastructure that guides drivers to charging points and a seamless payment system for charging services. That dream is becoming reality in Europe, which will show the greatest progress in simplifying PEV driving in 2013. IBM will demonstrate an intelligent backend system for managing public EV charge points, interacting with the power grid and enabling registered users to charge their vehicles anywhere in Ireland using a single ID card. Similar projects are underway in Portugal, Denmark, and Spain. The ambitious goal is to have a billing and communication system in place by 2015 that will work across Europe. In Germany, the Hubject project, backed by BMW, Bosch, Daimler, enBW, RWE, and Siemens, is creating a national system of eRoaming for a single payment system that will be up and running in 2013.
- The natural gas glut will tamper interest in plug-in electric trucks: Due to extensive discoveries of shale natural gas reserves across the globe during the past few years, the price of natural gas has dipped, while fuel production has expanded rapidly. This has resulted in increasing interest in manufacturing and purchasing natural gas trucks, which will deter interest in purchasing plug-in electric trucks or in manufacturers launching new models in 2013.
Read the full white paper.
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