Seven EV tech trends to watch in 2020

9th January, 2020

News type: Recent news

Automakers committed $225 billion to electrification in the coming years. Electric vehicles (EVs) grabbed 2.2% of the global vehicle market over the first 10 months of 2019 as many new models hit the road. Ford showed off the upcoming electric Mustang Mach-E and an electric F-150 pick-up. Tesla shocked everyone by turning profit and previewing a strange future with “cybertruck”, potentially the Hummer for Millennials.

However, outside of China and Norway, where car buyers enjoy generous incentives, the market is still driven by early adopters rather than the mainstream. EV sales for the year have been sluggish. While some states such as California have seen EVs capture 8% of new sales (all-electric and plug-in hybrid), the rest of the US has not yet caught on. After doubling between 2017 and 2018, EV market share in the US had crept up from 1.6% last March to 1.8% a year later.

What new electric cars are coming in 2020?

The year 2020 should be an interesting year for new electric vehicle models entering the market. Some of the most notable include:

  • Tesla Model Y
  • Volkswagen ID.3
  • Vivian R1T Truck
  • BMW iX3
  • Byton M-Byte
  • Mercedes EQC
  • Polestar (Volvo) Polestar 2
  • Volvo XC40 Electric

 

What tech trends should you watch in 2020?

Here are 7 potentially exciting tech trends to keep an eye on in 2020.

  1.  Battery technology

batteries

Source: Pxhere

For many industries, including EVs, advancements in battery technology have been slow and the progress in their optimization has been so minimal, that it looks like lithium-ion will be the go-to solution for many years to come.

But the steady improvements in cell chemistry, anode and cathode material, higher-yield fabrication process and economies of scale should help see a reduction in cost for each battery by around 6-8% every single year.

More from interesting engineering

 But there are some exciting developments in other alternatives to lithium-ion. Solutions like micro-capacitors, miniaturized solid oxide fuel cells, graphene polymer, aluminium-graphite, and gold nanowire technology and even sodium-based alternatives could very well replace the seemingly outdated lithium-ion very soon. 2020 might be a very exciting year for battery tech.

    2. Charging technology

 

Source: Tesla / twitter

An interesting trend to watch in the electric vehicle market will be improvements in charging tech. It is necessary to overcome this obstacle if electric vehicles are to ever receive a widescale approval by most consumers. 

In the eyes of their consumers, they are currently limited in their capacity mainly due to their range-per-charge and charging time. If directly compared to the internal combustion engine (ICE) car market, EVs are not quite as convenient for long-distance travel, even though they are much more environmental-friendly. The batteries need to be recharged every 2-3 hours and it takes around 30 minutes to get back on the road for most people. To overcome this persistent issue, EV manufacturers will need to step up the availability of fast-charging stations around the world.

Earlier last year, some companies, like Tesla, have already made some great strides in this area with their global rollout of supercharging stations. Tesla’s home charging station can be simply plugged into the wall. Previous Tesla charging systems needed to be hardwired into the homes electrical system by an electrician. But if you are after very fast home charging, you are still better off with the hard-wired option which still provides the fastest option. It seems Tesla is trying to deal with one of the problems that have been identified as a setback for potential EV owners - the ability to access charging stations in rented properties. 

The ability to quickly charge without hassle is the focus of many EV leaders. Tesla has led the industry with its supercharging stations, aggressively rolling out exclusive charging infrastructure across the globe. That trend will continue as Tesla moves to expand in Europe. 

But independent charging networks are catching up.  EVgo, Greenlots, EV Connect, and Electrify America are all in the business of building out thousands of new stations to mirror their gasoline counterparts. While the US remains far behind Europe and China, the number of public charging stations in the US has soared from just 506 at the end of 2010 to over 20,000 in May 2019, according to US Department of Energy (DoE) data. Tesla’s fast Supercharger network has 1,636 stations in addition to its destination charging stations (with many more on the way).

At the end of the year 2018 Porsche also announced that they have developed a portable charging solution that cuts the charge time down to 15 minutes.

Porsche portable charging solution 

Source: Porsche

    3. Autonomous driving

Many EV manufacturers have already made great leaps forward in autonomous driving. Tesla, Toyota, Peugeot and many more are relentlessly working on making this a reality for the vast majority of car owners in the future. 

Autonomous driving

Source: Tesla

Not only will this make long drives more comfortable for drivers, but it could also make our roads a lot safer. Once set as a global standard, it will probably destroy several traditional jobs like taxi firms, chauffeurs, and long-haul lorry freight operators and put pressure on newer professions like Uber drivers.

2020 should also see steady growth in the autonomous vehicle market with total sales reaching around 51,000 units by year-end, by some estimates.

    4. Solar-powered cars

solar powered car

Source: Lightyear

Another interesting tech trend to anticipate will revolve around solar-powered cars. Many manufacturers are already working towards making solar cars a reality very soon. 

By allowing the car's battery to be charged on the move and the highly efficient drive in the wheel like GEM motors, this could be an absolute game-changer for the EV market. There are already some interesting prototypes currently undergoing testing, and 2020 could see some of them closer to production. 

If achieved, some estimate that the global market for solar-powered EVs could be in the order of $1 Billion in 2020. 

However, solar cars have design limitations, because aesthetics need to consider accommodating solar panels. Most solar vehicles so far developed are not intended for regular use.

    5. Urban mobility (e.g. car-sharing apps)

Urban mobility apps

Source: Pxhere

 Another EV tech trend to watch out for could be the developments in urban mobility, primarily car-sharing solutions. For EVs, there already are some apps like E-Car Club and Bluecity that allow users to take advantage of EV cars without the significant financial outlay required to buy one for themselves. 

As other companies realize the potential of such a market, we could see an explosion in car-sharing apps, companies, and other solutions. 

    6. Electric planes

electric-plane-Maxwell-NASA

Nasa X-57 Maxwell is an experimental electric aircraft. 

Source: Allard Beutel/Wikimedia Commons

With all the headway made in EV tech for the automobile industry, it was only logical to assume that other modes of transport would follow suit. One example being aviation. 

To date, some major operators, space agencies like NASA, manufacturers, and new start-ups have already got the ball rolling. Some, like EasyJet, believe electric planes could be a reality by 2030.

One start-up, the U.S.-based Wright Electric, is planning to make short-term electric planes the standard for flights in the Middle East within the next 20 years.

Many other companies are already developing smaller electric aircrafts that should be available within the next few years, according to their estimates. One such company, the Israeli firm Eviation recently revealed a prototype of an all-electric passenger aircraft.

They claim that it will be the first one in the world and should be able to carry 9 passengers for 1.000 kilometres. It is expected to be released in 2022.

Another great example is a Slovenian company Pipistrel, with its Alpha Electro – the world’s greatest 2-seat electric trainer, tailored to the needs of flight schools. It has short take-off distance, powerful 1000+fpm climb capability and an endurance of one hour plus 30-minute reserve.

Alpha-electro-pipistrel-electric-plane 

Source: Pipistrel

Their solution is the first practical all-electric trainer. Technologies which they developed cut the cost of ab-initio pilot training by as much as 70%, making flying more affordable than ever before. Being able to conduct training on smaller airfields closer to towns with zero CO2 emissions and minimum noise is also a game changer!

     7. Software (connectivity, safety, information & entertainment systems)

software

Source: Tesla

Improvement and innovation in software will be another trend to watch in 2020. Just like the ICE industry, things like connectivity, safety, information, and in-car entertainment should see some interesting developments in 2020.

Connectivity, for example, will be of vital importance for safer autonomous vehicles. Higher bandwidths are also required for streaming 3K-4K videos in real-time for in-car entertainment.

With announcements over the last few months of Tesla's "summon" feature being included in its latest software update, it will be interesting to see what new functions will be added in 2020.

Source:

https://qz.com/1762465/2019-was-the-year-electric-cars-grew-up/

https://interestingengineering.com/7-ev-tech-trends-to-watch-in-2020

https://interestingengineering.com/tesla-launches-its-first-ever-portable-charging-station-for-500

https://interestingengineering.com/porsches-fast-charging-stations-will-power-evs-in-15-minutes

https://www.pipistrel-aircraft.com/aircraft/electric-flight/alpha-electro/

Keywords: electric vehicles,EV trends,trends 2020,tech trends

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