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Predictions for the EV battery sector for 2019

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By ByteSnap Design engineers

Although electric vehicles (EVs) with larger batteries tend to be talked about the most, for the foreseeable future we predict an increasing market for EVs with small batteries, primarily for urban driving. We expect 2019 to be a turning point for smaller Battery EVs (BEVs), a trend likely to continue over the coming decades for several reasons:

  1. The average trip distance in the UK is 7.04 miles, an average commuting journey is 11.2 miles and an average car drives 6500 to 7500 miles. This means that, if we assume a recharge happens only at home and allowing for a 100% margin, an urban BEV only needs a range of 45 miles. Also, note: 7500/365 is just 20 miles.
  2. EV owners generally charge opportunistically. So, as the number of charge points increases, the requirement for BEVs to support a whole day’s journey will at least halve, meaning that an urban BEV range of 23 miles will become the norm.
  3. Batteries are going to become cheaper, especially when the BEV market takes off and better battery technologies appear (currently, energy density increasing at about 15% per year). The simplicity of BEVs will drive costs down in all areas, and an obvious example is the batteries themselves, since a smaller battery means a lighter car, which results in additional cost-savings in the car chassis, brakes, charging tech, motor power, and so on.
  4. Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology will work well with small-battery BEVs, primarily because household power consumption is going down, expected to continue in the future. Even a BEV with a 25-mile capacity will be, at about 4.5 miles per kWh, just 5.5kWh, enough to provide about 30% of household electricity consumption.
  5. Small-capacity BEVs reduce the rate of churn in charging technology and will make it easier to balance out charging demand. For example, an average 11.2-mile journey would require 11.2/4.5 = 2.5kWh or 21 minutes to charge at a domestic level of 7kW.
  6. Autonomous BEV taxis will need more or less the same characteristics of urban BEVs: for example, when a BEV taxi is booked, the user will provide the intended route and thus a small-battery BEV will be sent out. In addition, there will be a large market for autonomous two-person taxis, which because of additional weight reductions makes small-battery BEVs even more viable.

Now, we’re not predicting that all BEVs will be like this, rather that we see a large market potential for second cars or autonomous taxis, mini- or micro-BEVs in a number of areas as the technology and infrastructure improve. For most people, long-distance journeys tend to be occasional, therefore households will either have second, larger BEVs or hire BEV taxis.
We expect 2019 to see really strong growth in EV/BEV sales. They have been widely production-constrained and – given the poor market in the rest of the automotive sector and the cutbacks in allowances for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) – BEVs will surge.

Relating to the wider electric vehicle market, in 2019 we expect:
1. Subsidies to step down a gear:Governments have been subsidising EV sale prices to stimulate the market. We believe 2019 will see an easing back of those subsidies as demand for EVs continues to outstrip supply.
2. Fast chargers to forge ahead:Look forward to petrol stations becoming “energy supply stations” as they install fast chargers alongside petrol pumps. This also means having to cater for the drivers during charging – be it food, entertainment or shopping. The acquisition by Shell and BP of EV charger suppliers is part of this strategy.
3. Tighter regulation around charger quality:We anticipate greater regulation of chargers in 2019, with more quality and standards placed upon them. In addition, we believe chargers will ultimately be required to allow load control, ensuring the grid can cope with high demand.

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