Convergence between responsible mobility operators and energy solution providers is an absolute necessity if the ever-growing needs are to be met. The electric vehicle industry and, more widely, all manufacturers of engines that require electricity to operate therefore have every interest to work in close collaboration with companies offering innovative solutions.
The electric car: a robust and growing market
In the context of a falling automotive market (sales of private cars fell by 8% in 2019 in China and by 13% in the US during Q1 2020), sales of electric cars are holding up well, notably thanks to growth in the US (+9% in Q1 2020) and in Europe (+88% in H1 2020).
And despite the crisis emerging at the start of the year, forecasts remain relatively encouraging. Bloomberg estimates that between 2015 and 2040 the number of electric cars sold each year will have grown 100-fold, from 450 thousand to 49 million. By this time, the electric car will account for some 25% of the worldwide total with 400 million vehicles on the roads. Lastly, by 2025, vehicle manufacturers will have invested 145 billion euros in e-mobility.
Robust in comparison to the global car market, the e-vehicle market will nevertheless face a number of difficulties. Firstly, due to the recent withdrawal by many countries in 2019 of subsidies and incentives to buy electric cars and hybrids. Furthermore, certain countries are confronted by ultra-powerful pressure groups seeking to obstruct the development of this market. In the US for example, the oil lobby exerts significant influence over the Trump administration and Republican governors. In Connecticut, sales of Tesla vehicles have been declared illegal based on an old law maintaining dealers’ monopoly over vehicle sales. Yet the business model of Tesla is based on direct sales via stores, galleries and the internet.
Increased range: the force behind the deployment of e-vehicles
To explain the resilience faced with a highly unpromising environment, most experts and analysts agree on two major reasons: the significant growth in the number of models marketed by manufacturers and also the increased range. Between 1971 and 2019, the range of the electric car rose from 110km for the Renault 5 EDF to 500km for the Porsche Taycan.
The growth in the market and in vehicle range has led to higher associated energy requirements. It is estimated that 2,000 TWh will be required in 2040, some 6% of global electricity demand. In order to ensure that the responsible mobility model remains virtuous, the energy must be obtained from a low-pollution source; photovoltaics may be one of the solutions to this challenge.
Pioneering energy technologies supporting responsible mobility
An example is the French industrial company ARMOR which markets ASCA®, an ultra-lightweight, flexible and semi-transparent photovoltaic film that contains no rare metals. This unique technology can be incorporated within the car in many different ways to provide it with additional energy.
In partnership with the company ACPV, a retractable solar car cover was developed in 2020 which includes ARMOR‘s organic photovoltaic film modules to partly power the battery of the e-vehicle Gazelle, from the manufacturer Gazelle Tech. Its range is therefore extended by up to 8,000 km per annum with an objective of 11,000 km per annum by 2023.
Made of organic semi-conductor polymers, the ASCA® film is composed of fine layers of inks, deposited using a coating process designed for thin and flexible film, which offers innovative benefits such as flexibility and lightness. Flexibility first and foremost: the ASCA® organic solar film can be rolled up at least 50,000 times without losing efficiency. Followed by lightness: it weighs around 450g/m2, i.e. a factor of 30 less than other photovoltaic technologies. These properties enable the technology to be easily integrated within the car’s protective cover. The solar film can also be applied directly to the bodywork or, thanks to its semi-transparency, be integrated within the glazed features such as the sunroof, passenger windows or within the sunshields. ARMOR is currently working with several manufacturers to improve integration of the OPV (organic photovoltaic) film within vehicle design.
In addition to being used for e-vehicles, there are multiple deployment prospects for photovoltaic technology in soft mobility: scooter and bike shelters and recharging stations with their associated information screens (interactive map of the district, advertising displays, etc.), buses… The potential is immense. This market is forecast to reach $40-60bn by 2025. Given these multiple future applications, it is vital to conduct in-depth analysis right now into their energy supply to ensure that all forms of electric transport meet the demands of responsible mobility.
Experiencing exponential growth, the deployment of e-vehicles is a response to the challenge of more responsible mobility. One of the keys to general acceptance will be longer range supported by responsibly sourced energy. This is why the use of renewables is a solution of the future. Developments must be as relevant as possible if electric transport is to find the widest possible audience. Driven forward by pioneering solutions. To be continued…