Simanaitis Says

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THE OCTOBER 25, 2019, ISSUE of Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has an article focusing on battery electric vehicles, BEVs, for short. “The Coming Electric Vehicle Transformation” is written by George Crabtree, who has appointments at Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, Illinois, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Here are tidbits gleaned from his projections on a BEV future as well as his citations of the current state of the art. [I add my own comments in brackets.]

Government Actions. Crabtree notes, “By 2025, Norway aims to have 100 percent of its cars be either an electric or plug-in hybrid unit, and the Netherlands plans to ban all gasoline and diesel cars sales by the same year. By 2030, Germany plans to ban internal combustion engines, and by 2040 France and Great Britain aim to end their gasoline and diesel car sales.”

[Of course, cars being the durable goods they are, cessation of sales doesn’t change traditional transportation overnight.]

Crabtree cites environmental benefits of these actions: “… provided [my emphasis, not his] the electricity grid that supports them is powered by renewable energy.” According to his sources, “the renewable share of global electricity is up from 22 percent in 2001 to 33 percent today, with Europe at 36 percent, China at 26 percent, and the United States at 18 percent.”

[According to Wikipedia, my home state of California’s 2018 figure for renewables was 31.2 percent. If hydroelectric (usually not considered among “renewables”) is included, California is at 43.5 percent.]

The U.S. as Laggard. Crabtree asserts, “Europe has grasped the electric vehicle opportunity, driven by its strict carbon emission requirements for future vehicles. The United States, by contrast, [Trump, actually] has proposed weakening its carbon emission requirements, and target dates for electrification of transportation are correspondingly further out.”

Crabtree cites an International Energy Agency New Policy Scenario: By 2030, China is projected to have electric vehicles comprise 28 percent of new car sales, Europe at 26 percent, and the U.S. at only 8 percent.

Image from Science, October 25, 2019.

Energizing the Plugs. Crabtree cites an evident growth industry in electrical utilities, with increases in demand ranging from 20 to 38 percent by 2050. He predicts that developed countries will accelerate renewable sourcing, energy storage, and digital energy management of their existing grids.

Also, he notes, “In developing countries, the increased electricity demand could spur the first-time installation of modern grids that are unencumbered by the legacy of the older, less functional grids of the developed world.”

Geoeconomic Impact. “The electrification of transportation,” Crabtree notes, “is a watershed moment in energy economics. For more than a century, oil has been the lifeblood of transportation…. But oil is abundant in relatively few countries, and these countries assume outsized geoeconomic importance because oil for transportation is a critical societal need. By contrast, sunlight and wind are available everywhere….” In fact, he notes, “Electricity is fundamentally a local product, not amenable to long-distance trade.”

[What’s more, electricity has the potential for distributed energy. See “Optimizing Renewable Energy” here at SimanaitisSays.]

Not a Done Deal Yet. Crabtree writes, “The electrification of transportation is far from complete. Buses, long-haul trucking, air taxis, and regional flight remain relatively untapped opportunities. Batteries still must overcome challenges in cost, range, charging speed, safety, and lifetime for electric vehicles to dominate the market.”

The concept of solid-state electrolytes, Crabtree notes, “brings several advantages to lithium-ion batteries.” Thermal runaway is eliminated; quicker charging and longer life are goals. Research continues. Image from

Crabtree cites Toyota’s intention of having advanced batteries “with lithium anodes and solid-state electrolytes ready for electric vehicles by the early 2020s.”

[However, his article is BEV-centric, with no mention of FCEVs, fuel-cell electric vehicles. For example, the second-generation Mirai, Toytota’s FCEV, has 30-percent greater range than the current model’s 312 miles. And the current Mirai takes only 3-5 minutes to fill up.]

The 2021 Mirai will enter production in late 2020.

[Automotive News, October 27, 2019, reports on the second-generation Mirai, Toyota’s FCEV: “Elon Musk dismisses hydrogen, but this is a winner.”] ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2019

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