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Electric Vehicles Research
Posted on May 15, 2015 by Franco Gonzalez

Highlights of IDTechEx Show! Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing

IDTechEx's Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing, conference was successfully held during the 28th and 29th of April 2015 in Berlin.
IDTechEx Show! was the perfect forum for this conference since IDTechEx has been bringing together companies from emerging technology areas since 1999.
Our next Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing show will be on Nov 18-19, 2015 in Santa Clara:
As the title suggests this conference presented a vision of how the automotive industry is undergoing a dramatic change through the voice of the companies and researchers that are developing the technologies that are changing it. This is from bringing the state of the art solid state battery technologies, going through leading research on navigation systems for autonomous vehicles, the first fully 3D printed car and aircraft gas turbine, fuel cells, next generation electric vehicle charging technologies, emerging niche electric vehicle segments such as Micro EVs, the electrification of air vehicles and the connected car.
Therefore, this was not the traditional automotive conference but a forum in which the emerging and future key players of the automotive sector present and discuss their ideas and present their disruptive technologies.
Among the keynote speakers, IBM's Institute for Business Value established two key points, the first is that historically rigid automotive industry boundaries are being shattered by digitally enabled consumers, aggressive innovators to the auto ecosystem and even automotive enterprises themselves as they work to realize the mobility requirements of 2025. Indeed, according to IBM's study, Auto 2025, collaboration with other industries is the best opportunity for growth and most automotive executives expect non-traditional industry participants to have a key role in the automotive ecosystem by 2025. Indeed, everything is changing - just 5 years ago the same survey indicated that the automotive industry thought that the main source of growth for 2020 would be entering into emerging markets. IDTechEx believes that the economic crisis taught a lesson to the automotive sector that innovation is key for the long term sustainability of the industry and the ones that do not adapt to this new situation will eventually be left out.
Relevant presentations include the one from SolidEnergy, an MIT start up founded by Dr. Quichao Hu and Professor Donald Sadoway. Dr. Hu, SolidEnergy's CEO presented to the audience the development of their 325 Wh/kg battery technology of which samples will be available by this spring. Based on an ultra-thin film anode technology that integrates an innovative structure comprising solid state materials and novel room temperature ionic liquids, this product doubles the energy density of available lithium ion technologies and more interestingly it can be implemented with any cathode material. SolidEnergy is looking for partners now to scale and commercialize their technology.
An exciting new player in the Micro EV segment, IFEVS from Torino, leaded by Pietro Perlo, former FIAT research director and leader of the Torino e-District, presented their industrial innovation, the Low Cost Flexible Manufacturing platform of a Micro EV, which is the result of a group of projects commissioned by the European Union (P-MOB, WIDE-MOB, AVTR, PLUS-MOBY and FREE-MOBY). IFEVS's EU-MOBY platform integrates several industrial innovations. This is a light weight (>700kg) four-wheel electric vehicle platform that integrates a small footprint, but ergonomic cash-test-worthy architecture which is easy to reconfigure for different uses. On the powertrain it integrates an innovative power dense 2 electric motor design with advance torque control and the possibility of integrating a 20 km/day solar energy harvesting system. Pietro Perlo will publicly present this vehicle in the streets of Torino in June this year, stating that he will bring one million people to the streets to see IFEVS Micro EV. Certainly an event which promises to be one of the main automotive events of the year, IDTechEx won't miss it!
Daimler's Dr. Jorg Wind, presented the company's vision on hydrogen cars. Daimler is apparently betting to both urban electric cars and hydrogen cars, according to Dr. Wind. The company's strategy in electric cars is based on the Smart for two electric car which is now being included in their car sharing schemes with presence in many cities in Europe and the A-Class E cell car. However the company has as well their B-Class F cell car and the Citaro FuelCell Hybrid Bus. Dr. Wind argued that Hydrogen as a by-product of the chemical industry as well as hydrogen from natural gas can cover a significant part of the H2 demand during the phase of introduction of FC vehicles and then gradually switch to "regenerative hydrogen". Dr. Wind explained that they are following a modular approach in which the A Class and the B Class share components of their power trains, the Smart fortwo electric drive shares battery and chargers with the A-Class and the B Class shares the fuel cell system and hydrogen tanks with the Citaro Bus. Dr. Wind stated that in 2025 Fuel Cell propulsion will be cheaper than EV propulsion for ranges longer than 350 km provided fuel cell technologies improve, there is a more mature supplier market and higher volumes. Dr. Wind stated that there are still technological challenges for hydrogen cars such achieving a powerful cell but most importantly achieving larger durability of the cells and the high cost that fuel cell cars still represent.
Tata Motors European Technical Centre's David Hudson offered an overview of design perspectives and concepts of electric vehicle range extenders. Interestingly Mr. Hudson mentioned that 50% of concepts for auxiliary power units applications are novel concepts and only 15% adapted from existing passenger car engines. He presented then what has been the Tata's strategy on achieving an affordable and efficient range extender that can be manufactured and have a price of less than $1000. This was the base of the LowCAP project which was funded by Innovate program of UK's Technology Strategy Board. This is a 2 cylinder 624 cc gasoline engine with an integrated generator and power electronics, an electrical power output of 20-25 kW in a mass of less than 80 kg.
Yasa Motors' Dr. Tim Woolmer argued that it is widely recognised that developing a low cost electric vehicle with a >200 mile range is essential to the long-term success of the electric vehicle. However, what is often not understood is the interaction between subsystems to achieve this overall aim. In particular, his presentation looked at the role of the motor and the battery technology and their interaction in electric vehicle design.
Power Hydrant presented the next generation of electric vehicle charging. This is automated charging. PowerHydrant is a start-up based in Massachusetts USA, founded by Kevin Leary a former technologist from the company Analog Devices. Leary and his team developed a electric vehicle charger that includes a robot that allows the charger to charge sequentially 4 vehicles. Some of the advantages that Hands-free Robotic Charger for EVs provides are the following: serves Home, Work-place, Public-places; Time sharing charging between different vehicles allowing infrastructure optimization; Universal Solution for all Use-cases; Ideal for Fast-charge Fleets; Lowest CAPEX and OPEX Solution.
On the energy storage section, IDTechEx was pleased to have two leading researchers: Dr. Andrew Burke from University of California Davis and Professor Elzbieta Frackowiak from Poznan University of Technology. Dr. Burke provided a comprehensive overview of the state of development of supercapacitor technology both carbon/carbon and hybrid technologies, including new devices from companies such as European Skeleton Technologies, Yunasko and Chinese DAE. Dr. Burke's testings and calculations indicate that energy densities in the range 20-50 Wh/kg seem possible with power densities comparable to carbon/carbon devices.
In the path to safer and cleaner materials for supercapacitor technology, Prof. Frackowiak did a great contribution to the conference. She presented results confirming that AC/AC supercapacitors based on aqueous electrolytes can achieve the same energy density that those based on organic electrolytes by taking advantage of pseudocapacitive reactions. Importantly she added that based on an additive her research confirmed the possibility of using these devices at -40 oC. Why is this important?, well most of the industry uses organic solvents with high toxicity, and previously an argument for not engaging with safer electrolytes was that aqueous solutions did not deliver the same performance of organic ones.
IDTechEx was pleased to bring the best researchers in the field of autonomous vehicle technology development. In this respect we had the pleasure to receive Dr. Daniel Gohring, who is part of famous Autonomos Labs from Freie Universitet Berlin which is leaded by Prof. Raul Rojas, awarded as researcher of the year in Germany in 2015. Dr. Goehring provided an excellent overview of the research in the filed including some of the challenges that autonomous vehicles still face for their broader adoption.
Our next show will be on Nov 18-19 in Santa Clara:
Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: Business and Technology Insight Forum - Novi June 2019 External Link on 10 - 12 Jun 2019 at Novi, Michigan, USA hosted by IDTechEx.
Franco Gonzalez

Authored By: Franco Gonzalez

Principal Analyst

Posted on: May 15th 2015