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E-mobility: (Much) More Than Electric Cars

From electric trucks, e-bikes and e-scooters to drones: e-mobility is about much more than electric passenger vehicles. If you look at the total picture, you will see that e-mobility is not a distant dream anymore, but a transition that is already fully under way in a wide range of vehicles by land, air and sea. It is therefore advisable for the sector to prepare for a growing number of e-mobility batteries that will begin a second (and third and fourth) life after having completed their first. 

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 think immediately of full 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. 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)
    • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)
    • Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)

In addition, there are:

  • Passenger Light-Duty Vehicles (PLDV) 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

Electric golf carts

Lithium-ion batteries

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, because modern drones, model planes and other radio-controlled electronics nowadays mostly run on a LiPo battery under the hood. LiPo stands for lithium-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.


e-mobility

E-volution

When we consider all the categories, we see that some categories have (for now) yet to break through into electric power, such as passenger vehicles, light freight and trucks.

But elsewhere we are seeing more growth. By far the most popular electric vehicles are e-bikes. That rising trend has continued in 2018. In urban settings, we are seeing ever more e-scooters, iWheels and e-motorbikes. 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.

How many EFVs are coming to Belgium?
Bebat has made a calculation. The prognosis:
  • 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 advised to prepare for ever greater numbers of EV batteries that have reached 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 specializes. 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.

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