In the last ten years the adoption of EVs (Electric Vehicles) has made some progress.

Photo by Eren Goldman on Unsplash

In 2021 worldwide 6.8 million EVs were purchased, compared to 55,400 in 2011. China is making the most progress, with hundreds of car manufacturers and nearly 300 models to choose from. Battery vehicles account for 79% versus 29% plugin-hybrids.

When you compare the population of China and the US to the number of EVs purchased in each country in 2021, the numbers are interesting. Using world population data from 2021 and the numbers from the visualization, China’s adoption is less than one percent of their population at .24% and the US is less than one percent of their population at .18%. It will be even more interesting to see what the next ten years bring to the world of EV with more advancements in battery technology.

Look at this visualization, for additional interesting information.

By the Year 2052

I see three areas that will evolve in the next 30 years that will support the transition from ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) to an EVs (Electric Vehicles) as a means of transportation. The three areas are battery technology, electrical generation, and charging infrastructure.

As progress is made in the three areas for automobiles it can then be applied to  trucks, planes, trains, water vehicles, and any other modes of transportation. Likely not for rockets. 

Battery Technology

Today the car manufacturer is not the gating factor in the adoption of EVs. The battery is what is holding up the progress of the ICE to EV transition. There are too many car manufacturers to count worldwide, both existing ones who have manufactured cars for some time, as well as new car manufacturers entering the market.

Most of the full electric or hybrid vehicles manufactured in the last 1-12 years used lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries have been around for 50-plus years. Battery manufacturers have proven that you can only go so far with lithium-ion batteries. We can also no longer ignore the many negatives to manufacturing lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive to high temperatures and can catch fire.

Today, battery technology is somewhere between lithium-ion and solid-state batteries. There seem to be three camps in the battery world. Those that think Lithium-ion batteries are not done; others are exploring combining alternative compounds for batteries, and the third camp is off on the solid-state road. Solid-state batteries bring to the table the fact that they are smaller, lighter, and safer, because they’re not flammable. Being lighter adds to the vehicle’s efficiency. Solid-state batteries are seeing shorter charging times.

Electrical Grid and Power Generation

Burning more fossil fuels to generate electricity is not the answer. Today, according to the US Energy Information Administration, about 61% of electrical generation is from fossil fuels. The number is even larger for the world, according to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, “Fossil fuels—including coal, oil, and natural gas—have been powering economies for over 150 years, and currently supply about 80 percent of the world’s energy.”

Today every fully Electric Vehicle is consuming off the electric grid some energy that was created with fossil fuels.

We need a greater percentage of alternative new sources to balance of available electrical energy that is available just in time from the natural resources.

Maybe that is a satellite that is collecting sun light, turning that into radio waves and sending to a collector tower on earth, that is wireless charging a battery somewhere.

A worldwide grid that provides excess energy to other parts of the world.

Another option would be to use B2G technology. This would equip every possible ICE vehicle with an additional battery and collect the excess energy from the vehicle while in use. Then send it to the grid when the vehicle is parked.

Battery backup/storage that can store power in the peek generation periods and deliver it to the grid when the demand is higher, this could include both at home customers, commercial both small and big business, as well utility companies.

If nothing is done in the next thirty years to improve production of electrical energy, then we may at some point run out of fossil fuels.

Is the world’s energy infrastructure prepared to handle a rapid demand for electric vehicles? Some say “yes”, others are not sure without reinforcements in many places.

What Might The Future Charging Infrastructure Look Like?

A charging network that is smart and bi-directional. Easily accessible in most of the locations where our vehicle would be located while not in use. Locations would include parked at our home, work location, out shopping, or while traveling longer distances.

The high level of the smart and bi-directional aspect is that the charging network is connected to the internet with wireless backup and the electrical grid. Can charge the battery, or accept electrical energy from the battery, placing it on the grid. Finally, recording the transaction, charging the vehicle’s owner’s account and crediting the originator of the electrical energy.

A primary location would be at our home. When at our home, our vehicle battery, through using the bi-directional abilities would be able to supply power to our home or return energy to the grid. At later hours, when usage is down, the energy could be transferred back to the vehicle battery. The smart capabilities should recognize other vehicles and charge/credit the appropriate accounts.

We need to have a smart bi-directional charging network that attaches to the existing grid. This would be a combination of places at home, where your car is parked, and while on trips of any size.

Making Significant Progress Over the Next Thirty Years

Today it is looking like we will make the most progress in the next five to ten years around battery technology. By the year 2032, we should have more EVs with solid-state battery options. Other non-lithium-ion batteries may materialize that are cost effective for some applications that provide a cost buying decision for some vehicle buyers.

There are many challenges that Electrical Power Generation needs to overcome. The world has relied on fossil fuels for electrical generation for over 150 years to the tune of 80% of electrical consumption today. This area is the most challenging and I do not have a good understanding of what the future might look like.

Pieces and parts of a smart bi-directional charging network are appearing, and with some vision we could see great progress by 2032. Technology companies, regulation bodies, suppliers, and customers working together would create a perfect world scenario.