The geography of EV battery development

EV developments continue apace but customers still need to be wooed.

With EVs representing 13% of total new European car registrations in January 2020, their market share in 19 markets is now in double-digits, according to a Jato Dynamics report. Ahead of the introduction of the new CO2 emissions regulation, there hs been an overall steep reduction in the registration of new passenger cars.

Meanwhile, McKinsey predicts that Germany will overtake China in the manufacture of EVs. "The market share of German carmakers in electric production worldwide will rise from 18% last year to 29% in 2024," the 2020 "Electric Vehicle Index" report says. However, the report's findings exclude the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Many UK cities considering Clean Air Zones may well follow Nottingham's lead in a 30-day 'try before you buy' EV initiative piloted by the Nottingham ULEV Experience project and financed through Nottingham City Council’s Go Ultra Low funding. 20 EVs have been adopted by the organisations which have taken part in the scheme over the past 18 months.

The scheme may help to overcome 'range anxiety' - which continues to be a focus of concern for those considering a move to EVs, particularly in the fleet secotor.  However, new scientific research may make a 500 mile (800 kilometres) journey achievable on a single charge.  Researchers from the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) and the Samsung R&D Institute Japan (SRJ) have created a prototype of a solid-state battery which is claimed to be half the size of a comparable lithium ion battery, yet deliver significantly greater range. The new technology is also stated to be safer and longer-lasting, capable of being charged more than 1,000 times and with a structure that reduces the risk of short-circuits.

However, further concerns about the safety of fast-charging EV batteries has been raised by researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). The danger lies in the high temperatures and resistance which can cause batteries to crack, leak, and lose their storage capacity. Charging at lower temperatures has been achieved by the team as well as setting a new fast-charging algorithm based on the battery’s internal resistance, which interferes with the flow of electrons.

Finally, with the threat of outright bans on internal combustion engines, European countries have been set to build so-called gigafactories for the manufacture of batteries. However, the UK appears to be lagging behind saccording to Neil Morris, the Faraday Institution's Chief Executive. “Over time, car production will migrate to where the battery production is.”