Development possibilites for electric vehicles market

One of the aims of Europe2020 is the 20% CO2 emissions reduction by 2020. Nevertheless, according to forecasts the total amount of cars worldwide should duplicate by 2030 (moving from 800 million to 1,6 billion vehicles); thus, it is necessary to reduce traditional vehicles (accountable for 15% of polluting emissions in Europe) and promote a sustainable mobility.

Electric vehicles salesThe production of electric vehicles in Europe started in 2010: since then, sales have increased year by year and they got to 50.000 vehicles in 2013. This market is so young that it is difficult to make precise forecasts on future developments; anyway, if the growth will continue with the same trends it had until now, it is possible to say that it is likely that sales will get to 100.000 vehicles in 2015, 500.000 in 2020 and more than one million in 2025.

The two main limits for zero emission vehicles market development are:

• the cars high cost;

• the absence of a widespread network for battery charging points.

The favorable growth forecasts are based on the passing of these limits. The price of electric vehicles will decrease thanks to technology development and high investments will be made in order to improve the charging point infrastructure in the next years. Nowadays 64.000 of them are installed all over the world; in 2020 they will be 10 millions (of which 200.000 will be fast charge).In Italy, the Ministry of Infrastructure will finance several regional projects devoted to the diffusion of battery charging points.

Charging infrastructure are perceived as a duty belonging to the public sector. However, according to forecasts, the first development will be supported by private companies: they are increasing their awareness on the total amount of savings that will derive from the use of electric vehicles and they are considering the opportunity to convert their fleet into electric.

From a geographical point of view, the greatest private and public investments are made in America. In Europe, instead, there are many differences among Countries. Norway and the Netherlands, thanks to tax incentives, are the two European Countries in which electric vehicles are more widespread, with a market share of 5% (versus 1% in the other Countries).

Several kinds of electric cars are available in the market:

• full electric: it is a car with one engine powered by batteries (usually lithium batteries) that can be charged through electrical power either in the houses or in electric charging points. The average autonomy is between 100 and 150 kilometers;

• plug in hybrid: it is a car with two engines (one electric and one endothermic). Batteries can be charged through electrical power, through energy recovery while breaking and through the endothermic engine.

These cars have no autonomy problems because they can work with the endothermic engine. They allow to reduce consumptions and emission and they guarantee fair distances with the use of batteries only (20-50 kilometers)

• electric with range extender: it is a car with two engines (one electric and one endothermic). The second one has the only function of generating electric power to charge the battery. The autonomy can arrive to 500 kilometers.

The improvement of existing technologies, the development of new technologies (fuel cell, compressed air, retrofit), the development of favorable policies and the increase of public and private investments will allow this sector to develop and, at the end of the day, to reduce pollution and CO2 emissions.

Image source: Electric vehicles in 2013: a progress report (published in July 2014 by Transport and Environment)