Industry Insights: How does Our Audience see the Future for Batteries and EVs?

During our hugely popular Knowledge & Networking Week in December, we launched a series of audience polls to understand what battery and EV industry leaders see as crucial to future success of the sector. With the huge global changes of 2020 impacting almost every aspect of personal, professional and political life it felt like the perfect time to gauge how optimistic the industry is feeling and where its members see the pressure points and opportunities in the coming years.

According to Battery Cells & Systems Expo attendees it is still unclear whether there will be a firm direction for cell formats, with nearly a third (32.8%) responding to our poll that they felt Pouch, Cylindrical and Prismatic would ALL prevail – whilst the other two thirds of respondents were evenly split across the three formats. As a result the jury is still out but it will surely become clearer as the sector grows!

The industry is divided on whether the UK can reach its ambitious target of electrification on new cars by 2030 with just over a third suggesting it’s a realistic target and another third failing to reach the same levels of optimism, but still placing success at 2040. What is certain is that to meet the target in the next 9 years there is a lot to do.

Our audience was keen to highlight a range of interesting Li-ion alternatives that could develop into commercial propositions. Leading the way is the eternal bridesmaid – solid state technology, highlighted by almost 30% of respondents, closely followed by Cobalt-Free NMc chemistries. The latter is key to reducing the reliance on limited cobalt resources which more often than not mined in places with little regard to human rights and safety concerns – this element has so far proved tricky to replace. Solid state technology, despite rampant rumours and promises has yet to become a fully endorsed commercial option but depending on who you listen to it’s getting close…

Our audience pointed to the supply of raw materials (14.6%) and technological barriers (20.7%) as the biggest factors in successfully transforming the ICE supply chain to electrification. Given the well documented issues around relying on a global supply chain in 2020, a renewed spotlight on supply chain sustainability, location and risk is not surprising. With the hope of a return to some kind of ‘normal’, starting later this year, and consumers perhaps taking fewer, shorter journeys for work – can we expect this to promote demand for EVs – will the supply chain be ready to meet new demand for more sustainable transport solutions?

One of the most damaging criticisms of electrification results from the environmental impact analysis electric vehicles over their lifetime from concept to retirement. The areas of concern are numerous: PHEVs are often not plugged in by consumers, limiting their green credentials; some rare earth material mining companies have highly questionable ethical practices; the environmental impact of shipping  EV or battery materials and components around the world; the lack of a circular economy for batteries; and the source of the electricity used to power H/EVs when on the road are just some examples. Which of these areas is most important to changing the story? Our audience felt improvements in sustainable cell chemistries (13.9%), recycling and second life (combined 28.5%) and the eventual energy source for batteries (14.8%) present the biggest opportunities for improving the environmental impact of EVs.

Battery Cells & Systems Expo and Vehicle Electrification Expo takes place on 7th & 8th July 2021 at the NEC, Birmingham, UK. A free-to-attend conference alongside the exhibition is set to address: Li-ion alternatives, manufacturing of EVs, cells and packs, market forecasts, tear downs, improving environmental impacts, supply chain management, solid state, thermal management, ultrafast charging, improving diversity in the engineering sector, advanced powertrain development, electric machines, power electronics, commercial vehicles, e-motorsports and much more. This is a rare chance to gain access on a complimentary basis to an industry-leading programme and is not to be missed, register here.