What is e-mobility? The future of our transport lies in batteries.
What exactly is e-mobility?
You can hardly open any magazine or news site these days without coming across the topic of electromobility or e-mobility.
If you immediately think of fully electric cars, you are not the only one to make this mistake. E-mobility is a term that covers a surprisingly wide range of meanings. Not tomorrow, but right now.
E-mobility is the collective term for vehicles, boats and aircraft that are partially or fully powered by electricity. They get their energy from the electricity grid and store it 'on board', in most cases in a lithium-ion battery.
Let us first look at the different categories of electrically powered vehicles. We will also explain a few abbreviations that are often used when talking about this subject.
Some umbrella terms are EV - Electric Vehicles and EFV - Electrified Vehicles. These both have several subcategories:
- Passenger vehicles
- Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)
- Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEV) - electric vehicles with plugs
- Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) - hybrids with plugs
- Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) - hybrids without plugs
In addition, there are:
- Passenger Light-Duty Vehicles (PLDV) and light commercial vehicles (LCV); mopeds and golf carts.
- Electric and hybrid trucks
- Passenger Light-Duty Vehicles (PLDV) - cars for passenger transport and Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV); mopeds and golf carts
- Electric and hybrid trucks
- Electric and hybrid buses
- Construction equipment vehicles (diggers, dump trucks, loader cranes, etc.) and goods handling vehicles (such as forklifts, internal transport, street sweepers, etc.)
- iWheels: electric mopeds and motorcycles (two or three wheels), e-scooters, Segways, hoverboards, mobility scooters, one-wheelers, etc.
- Electric bikes (from city bikes, recumbent bikes, pedelecs to cargo bikes or carrier cycles)
- Drones, models, microlights and other small aircraft
- E-yachts or pleasure craft, including inland shipping vessels and boats for freight transport
The main reason for the growing popularity of e-mobility is that electric vehicles meet the low-emission standards that are becoming increasingly important in protecting our climate. However, they also have some other advantages: they are quiet, energy-efficient and they offer many possibilities in bustling city life. Think, for example, of electric shared scooters that are popping up all over our cities, getting city dwellers from A to B quickly and efficiently.
Lithium-ion batteries: the light, powerful driver of e-mobility
The connecting thread through all these categories is that (almost) all of them are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. These are powerful batteries with a high energy density.
Almost all of them, because modern drones, model planes and other radio-controlled electronics nowadays mostly run on a LiPo battery under the hood (link in dutch). LiPo stands for lithium-ion polymer, powerful batteries that are much lighter than NiCd (nickel-cadmium) and NiMh (nickel metal hydride) batteries. Not unimportant when it comes to aircraft.
The LiPo battery is a special kind of battery, one ‘with a manual’. Remember that LiPo batteries are known mainly for their large capacity per weight and the fact that they can be charged up quickly, generally in 1.5 hours. However, this means that they have to be handled with the requisite care. So please do handle with care. You can read more in this blog post (link in dutch).
A rapid e-volution for electric driving
Electric driving is on the rise. We see the market share increasing across categories, such as passenger vehicles, light freight and even trucks.
We also increasingly cycle electrically, and more and more e-steps, iWheels and e-motorbikes are appearing in urban environments. In industry, increasing numbers of electric vehicles are being used in factories and warehouses, at mines, construction sites, etc. Local authorities and bus companies are focusing ever more on “zero emissions” and are experimenting with hybrid and electric buses. And so on.
It is becoming increasingly clear: electric cars are becoming mainstream. The expectation is that the price of electric vehicles will reach the same level as that of their fuel counterparts between 2025 and 2029.
Why do companies invest in e-mobility?
The rapid shift to e-mobility is not happening by itself. Companies have good reasons to invest in the transition. We list the most important ones here:
- E-mobility reduces CO2 emissions. Today, many companies are striving to achieve carbon-neutral status. The switch from fuel-powered vehicles to e-vehicles is a big step in the right direction.
- Electric vehicles reduce transport costs for companies (especially for vans or trucks travelling more than 150 km per day). Electric vehicles may be more expensive to buy, but they are much cheaper to run than conventional fuel vehicles.
- Electric vehicles are often lighter, smaller and more flexible. All these new means of transport are fuelling creative solutions that were not possible before (urban sharing concepts, shuttle services, more efficient movement within large warehouses, more efficient delivery services...).
- It improves workers' health. Companies are increasingly investing in e-bikes for their staff, providing them with more healthy exercise than if they came to work by car.
Facts & figures on e-mobility
- The number of fully electric cars sold has doubled in just three years (2019 figures)
- There are currently over 4,000 e-buses on European roads. Belgium is still lagging behind when it comes to electric public transport, but De Lijn does have ambitious plans to provide emission-free transport throughout Flanders by 2035. The transition will begin in 2023.
- By 2030, we will need 12 times more gigawatt hours of battery power worldwide for ever-growing e-mobility.
- Bebat has calculated how many electric vehicles we can expect in our country. This is the forecast:
- 92,000 EFV* in 2025 (18,4% of new vehicles)
- 154,000 EFV* in 2030 (30% of new vehicles)
* Electrified Vehicles (PHEV-BEV-PEV)
Stream of batteries coming
The entire automotive sector - importers, manufacturers, demolition firms, etc. - would be well advised to prepare for ever greater numbers of EV batteries that will reach their end-of-life. In other words: once they have fallen to 70-80% of their initial capacity, or if they are damaged or defective. At that point, lithium-ion batteries:
- are recycled (i.e. raw materials such as cobalt and lithium are recovered),
- refitted for reuse as traction batteries, or
- prepared for second-life applications such as for energy storage.
Collection, transport, storage, dismantling, diagnosis, transfer for recycling, reuse or second life: this is the trajectory in which Bebat specialises. After all, it is known as the “aftercare” trajectory for a reason. EV batteries have to be handled with great care and all sorts of safety measures before they can begin their second (third, fourth, ...) life.