Energy density and the challenges of electrification for heavy duty vehicles

Energy density and the challenges of electrification for heavy duty vehicles

Feb 13, 2019

The topic of electrification for truck and buses comes up more and more frequently when we talk with people interested in the EV supply chain; while the prospects for battery powered passenger cars and light duty vehicles are by now fairly clear, we see a more nuanced story for larger vehicle classes. In this spotlight we examine the key issues and practical applications for electrification within the heavy and medium duty space.

We have recently teamed up with heavy duty and non-road powertrain experts KGP to launch our new EV Energy Density Monthly Assessment. This publication tracks the development of battery pack sizes across vehicle classes and for the industry as a whole and this spotlight draws on this research. If you would like to learn more about the assessment register your interest here and we will be in touch to discuss.

 The push towards electrification of heavy duty vehicles is essentially driven by three factors. The first is the long-standing trend in the commercial vehicle and haulage industry towards greater efficiency and lower total cost of ownership. Commercial vehicles are operated as business assets that are expected to generate a return, with fuel a major cost input.

The second factor is the pressure from legislators for emissions control, both in terms of carbon-reduction and fuel efficiency, but more importantly to improve ambient air quality standards particularly in urban areas. The third arises from the corporate social responsibility concerns of major fleets and operators, with a desire to act, and be seen to act, in an environmentally ethical manner.

As such there is a sizeable opportunity for an economically viable solution for the electrification of commercial vehicles, but also major obstacles to overcome. The key challenge, as ever, is range. Heavier vehicles require greater power, and exponentially so if they are pulling significant payloads. As such the kWh requirement per Km for heavy duty trucks and buses is around 1.1-1.3 kWh/Km depending on the type of vehicle, and for medium duty 1.0 kWh/Km or less. Compared to 0.2 kWh/km and less for passenger cars and light duty vehicles.

For heavy duty this equates to a battery size of around 800-1,000kWh to deliver 800 km (500 miles) of range. Even at battery prices approaching USD100 per kWh this represents a huge cost for the vehicle. Equally important are weight and space considerations, at current energy densities the battery weight to achieve this range would be in the region of 5,000-6,000 kg, equivalent to a payload loss of 5-10% depending on the truck compared to diesel. In addition charging times would be in the order of several hours using current fast charging technology.

The fact remains that the incumbent technology, the diesel engine, provides significantly greater energy density than lithium-ion at present. For example, a 1,000 litre diesel fuel tank weighing 800 kg would deliver the same energy as a current 20,000 kg lithium-ion battery.  Further, the major successes for electrification in larger vehicle classes seen to date, urban buses operating on a closed route with batteries of around 300 kWh, have largely been driven by subsidies and non-economic factors.

Despite this there is still a strong case for electrification for medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles. Trucks with ranges of 150-300 km, with batteries in the order of 100-200 kWh, are likely to play an increasing role in urban areas where air quality concerns are higher, and therefore emissions restrictions are most stringent. This will primarily be for ‘last mile’ delivery, and for vocational vehicles that operate on a local route and return to a depot for re-charging on a regular basis. In the meantime work continues to increase energy density and range for heavier vehicles, with 500 kWh a seemingly realistic target over the coming 3-5 years.

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Copyright © 2018 Rho Motion. All rights reserved.

VW assessing its position along the whole Electric Vehicle supply chain

VW assessing its position along the whole EV supply chain

Jan 30, 2019

  • VW has been making statements in the past week highlighting its intention to strengthen its position in the EV supply chain. These announcements have come from its newly formed components division, which consolidated its various disparate procurement and development functions from the start of this year.
  • This new team aims to save the company €2bn by 2025 in cost efficiencies, which it has pledged to invest in e-mobility. It will also have responsibility for ensuring supply for the company’s EV batteries, as well as recycling and/or re-purposing batteries at the end of their useful automotive life.
  • The three key announcements made by the company give a indication of the scope of its ambition regarding electrification, as they cover charging, cell manufacture and even investments in mining of raw materials.
  • Moving upstream one announcement at a time, VW has said that it will begin production of ‘powerbanks’ capable of charging four vehicles simultaneously, with a pilot project being launched in Wolfsburg this year, and mass roll-out planned for 2020. There are even plans for second-life use of automotive batteries within these charging stations.
  • VW has also indicated that it is weighing up a move into cell production for its EV batteries, having stated that it is in intensive talks on the subject. This follows the news of the Toyota-Panasonic tie-up last week – if you missed our take see here. We expect that this is the likely direction of travel for automotive majors, and sooner rather than later, given the potential costs of not securing supply, and their current position of strength in a market that requires investment.
  • What is perhaps even more interesting is that the company has said that is also considering investing in key raw materials for its batteries, including through taking shareholding positions in mining companies. Given the resources at VW’s disposal, and the relatively small investments necessary to secure off-takes with many of the mining companies in the battery raw materials space, this could have a significant impact on the markets for those minerals.

For full analysis of the EV and battery markets see our Rho Motion Electric Vehicle Monthly publication, get started below to register your interest.

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Will we be waiting longer than anticipated for NCM811?

Will we be waiting a longer than anticipated for NCM811?

Jan 20, 2019

  • Rho Motion was in New York in the last week attending Benchmark’s Lithium Breakfast Briefings at both Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank, where we spoke. Click here to download the presentation
  • Among the various excellent presentations one thing that came through was that several commentators, including Benchmark, stated that NCM811 technology may take longer than previously anticipated to become fully comercialised, with 2023 a reasonable target, a delay of roughly two years on previous ideas
  • What this means in terms of battery cost, and reaching the $100 per Kwh level to bring EVs on par with ICE is less clear, we also heard that one battery maker has already breached that floor, although the majority of market remains 5-6 years off, and that scale rather than commodity input costs will be the primary determinant of battery costs as the market grows

For full analysis of the EV and battery markets see our Rho Motion Electric Vehicle Monthly publication, get started below to register your interest.

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Auto and Batteries merge with Toyota – Panasonic Electric Vehicle JV

Auto and Batteries merge with Toyota – Panasonic Electric Vehicle JV 

Jan 20, 2019

  • According to news reports in Japan, Toyota and Panasonic will this week announce a joint venture to produce batteries for EVs for Toyota and its subsidiaries and partners in EV technology, including Mazda. Panasonic’s five non-Tesla automotive battery production facilities in Japan and China will be rolled into the new company
  • This is very big news for a number of reasons, firstly because it represents a significant upstream battery investment by a major OEM – Toyota is set to own 51% of the new company, with Panasonic holding the remaining shares – and its success, or otherwise, will set a template for other similar mergers that are almost certain to follow
  • Secondly, and maybe more crucially for the immediate development of the EV market, is that it outlines Toyota’s commitment to EVs, having for years talked up its fuel cell technology as the future of zero emissions vehicles. This is doubly true given reports that the new entity will have a significant R&D function, with a remit to develop a generation of larger batteries, signaling a move towards more and larger full battery electric vehicles from the OEM in the coming years

For full analysis of the EV and battery markets see our Rho Motion Electric Vehicle Monthly publication, get started below to register your interest.

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Rho Rising: Key trends in EV battery pack size & design – our presentation at the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence press briefing

Rho Rising: Key trends in EV battery pack size & design – our presentation at BMI press briefing

Dec 4, 2018

We were delighted to be invited to present at the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence press briefing on the 3rd December, where we spoke to industry press about key trends in EV battery pack size and design. Looking at how increases in cell density are being driven through improved battery chemistry and design. Get started below to receive the presentation.

For full analysis of the EV and battery markets see our Rho Motion Electric Vehicle Quarterly Outlook publication, get started below to register your interest.

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Copyright © 2018 Rho Motion. All rights reserved.

BYD still leading the EV market in China after a strong September

BYD still leading the EV market in China after a strong September

Oct 23, 2018

BYD remains the dominant force in the market after another strong month for EV sales in China. Domestic sales of all its battery (BEV) and plug-in (PHEV) electric vehicles reached nearly 140,000 units in the year to September, following sales in the month of roughly 25,000 units, according to the latest data from the China Association of Automotive Manufacturers (CAAM). This represents sales growth of 25% so far in 2018 compared to the whole of 2017. BAIC’s EC-series remains the highest selling model however, with just over 47,000 sales so far in 2018.

For full analysis of the EV and battery markets see our Rho Motion Electric Vehicle Monthly publication, get started below to register your interest.

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Copyright © 2018 Rho Motion. All rights reserved.