The EVS series of events travels around the world and this year it was the turn of South Korea. Over 2000 people, 60% from overseas, attended the event spanning two half days and two full days with about 180 lectures and about 180 poster sessions. That set no records, partly because of timing near to public holidays, but the quality of exhibitors and speakers was high.
That said, the choice of topics was rather restricted. Yes, autonomous vehicles were there and the few percent of presentations on on-road fuel cell vehicles reflected their limited potential in the near term. Power electronics was very well reported including supporting the widespread strong move from one motor with its inverter to two per vehicle and there was some attention to the motors being newly adopted such as switched reluctance. There is great progress increasing efficiency and reducing the need for cooling of both motors and their inverters and cost reduction is often offset by increased complexity needed . For more see the IDTechEx report, Electric Motors for Electric Vehicles 2015-2025.
However, the newly vital energy harvesting was almost entirely limited in coverage to regenerative braking issues which were well covered. Many lectures were company commercials and therefore did not see the future. New photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, energy harvesting shock absorbers, flywheels and printed electronics were tough to spot. Smart skin and the ultimate structural electronics were ignored. Electric boats and planes were virtually ignored. Fortunately most of these topics will be covered at the IDTechEx Show! in Santa Clara USA.
At EVS28 there were excellent plenary sessions when the big names actually provided more than PR fluff. Huge commitment to hybrid and pure electric vehicles was seen with Hyundai alone planning more than 22 new models by 2020. Mercedes-Benz promises 10 plug-in hybrids by 2017.
Battery car lift off date
There is near consensus that the 50%+ growth in sales of pure electric cars in recent months heralds a big lift-off around 2020 when ranges of 200-300 miles will be available from many affordable models and resale prices are becoming attractive.
Fuel cell vehicles
With fuel cell on-road vehicles there is no consensus and some shifting of ground. Hyundai remains passionately committed to them for heavy duty and long range but Mercedes Benz now talks of a contest between them and battery pure electric vehicles in coming years. Good progress on fuel cell cold start and on-board hydrogen storage were reported. The easier adoption of fuel cells in "back to base" industrial and commercial applications should have been covered. See the new IDTechEx report, Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2015-2030: Land Water Air.
There are first signs of a build-up in interest in post lithium-ion batteries but no one is expecting anything very commercial within five years and the US DOE has de-emphasised its work on lithium-air. No one yet agrees on the best horse to back. Meanwhile it is obvious from the plethora of work that lithium-ion batteries have a long way to go and they will remain dominant even in 2025. Cost of $200/kwh is anticipated with scaling and range will be improved by many improvements beyond batteries not just improvement of the batteries themselves. Almost nothing on supercapacitors and the promising hybrid supercapacitors such as lithium-ion capacitors. These will be covered at IDTechEx Show!.
Social and policy issues
Social, environmental, organisational, public policy, standards and logistics issues were well covered but nothing hid the fact that charging is too slow and too difficult to access. One problem all agreed is that most charging will be at home and destination so getting the money for on-road charging in the interim is tough even before we talk of hydrogen infrastructure at more than ten times the cost. It should not be forgotten that an increasing percentage of us live in apartments in cities where personal ownership of a charging station is impossible.
Hot topics included use of large pure electric buses in cities across the world (looking good). See more in the IDTechEx report, Electric Buses 2015-2025. We learnt much about the proliferation of electronics in the vehicle such as autonomy systems, battery diagnostics, new telematics and so on. 48V systems were a big focus - they are succeeding in both electric and conventional vehicles from a small beginning but most electric vehicles are headed well up in voltage to get efficiency - even to 700V. Dynamic charging (continuous pickup) is receiving a little more attention and inductive static charging is at last getting some agreement on standards - vital before open systems such as cars can be successfully charged contactlessly. They will obviously be big in a few years - not long. High power contactless charging is on its way. All in all this was a very informative event with excellent personal contacts being made.