Traction Technologies

Summary

Driver description
Interactions with the Technology Domain
Interactions within the Social Domain
Interactions with the Economy Domain
Interactions with the Environment Domain
Impacts on Mobility and Transport

Driver description

  • “There is not much interest today in conceptual work aimed at replacing vehicles rolling on wheels with ones using a different motion technology (sliding, hovering). The technological breakthrough that will occur in this transport sector within the next twenty years will mean the replacement (nearly completely) of motor vehicles powered by combustion engines with electric ones.” (Ref: CO_5065)
  • “A wide range of innovations in motor vehicles and their equipment deal mainly with new types of propulsion and alternative fuels.” (Ref: CO_5065)
  • “The Green Cars Initiative[1] supports development of technologies, systems and services to reduce environmental pollution and the use of fossil fuels in road transport. This public private partnership with public financial support for R&D is developing leading edge technologies mainly in electrification of road transport. The research also covers alternative fuels, internal combustion engines, co-modality logistics and long distance freight.” (Ref: CO_0237)
  • “Projections for the penetration of alternative powertrain technologies over the next decades suggest that a large proportion of new light-duty vehicles will continue to use an internal combustion engine equipped with advanced concepts and technologies. ERTRAC’s Strategic Research Agenda 2010 (ERTRAC (2010a)) indicated that more than half of new light-duty vehicles in 2050 will still be powered by an advanced ICE[2]. A substantial fraction of these can be expected to be vehicles with an ICE as the sole source of propulsion while, in others, ICEs will increasingly be integrated with electric motors and batteries in a range of hybrid powertrains as described above.” (Ref: CO_0294)
  • “Today’s ICEs have reached a very high level of maturity but they still offer significant potential for further improvement and these refinements should be exploited in future research activities.” (Ref: CO_0294)
  • “While the energy and fuel supply is expected to diversify in the future, advanced ICEs and powertrains will continue to play a major role for both light- and heavy-duty applications. The improvement potential for fuel consumption of advanced ICEs is still significant and continued improvements in regulated emissions performance and low overall cost are still feasible. For these reasons, advanced ICEs and powertrains will be important for meeting future consumer and regulatory demands over the near- and medium-term and they will be the pace setter technology for alternatives like hybrid and battery electric vehicles.” (Ref: CO_0294)
  • “New drive technologies are a key strategic challenge for the automotive industry. The race for alternatives to the traditional combustion engine is under way, but it remains unclear which alternative technology promises to become the eventual winner, or even whether a specific technology will manage to make a real breakthrough in the market.” (Ref: CO_0005)
  • “The most likely to make a technological breakthrough in road transport is the concept of electric car (...).”(Ref: CO_5065)
  • “The electrification of road transport is of specific importance in the context of growing urbanization in Europe, and considering the high potential of electrified mobility for climate protection, resources management, and air quality. The electrification includes the development of full electric vehicles (FEVs) specifically designed for use in the urban environment (typical daily range of 50km), as well as plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and vehicles equipped with a range extender, capable of longer trips within and between cities.” (Ref: CO_5033)
  • “The most widespread type of electrified vehicle at present is the hybrid, employing one or more battery-powered electric motors, supplemented by a small conventional ICE to deliver higher total power and torque, and to extend the drivable range beyond that of the batteries alone. An extension of this concept, the ‘plug-in hybrid’, adds the ability to recharge the batteries by connection to any convenient mains supply.” (Ref: CO_0260)
  • “In EVs and hybrids (...) energy is stored in the batteries or a bank of capacitors for later use. Another energy storage method is by a rotating flywheel, as used in the mechanical KERS (kinetic energy recovery systems), which briefly made its appearance in some Formula 1 racing cars during the 2009 season. Some EV and hybrid prototypes are equipped with electric double-layer capacitors (‘supercapacitors’) – which are devices able to store and release large amounts of energy extremely rapidly. They are thus very effective for capturing the energy released during events such as braking, and using it during the next acceleration. If batteries were subjected to such rapid charge/discharge cycles, they would suffer damage and a reduction in lifetime. Supercapacitors, by contrast, can withstand hundreds of thousands of discharges as should easily be capable of surviving the full working life of a vehicle.” (Ref: CO_0260)
  • “Hybrid electric vehicles combine two power sources with at least one powering an electric motor. The range of alternative power sources includes batteries, flywheels, ultracapacitors, and heat engines. Hybrid systems come in a variety of configurations.” (Ref: CO_0272)
  • “Hybrid electric vehicles have three significant advantages over conventional vehicles: regeneration of energy during deceleration, automatic engine shutdown when the vehicle stops, and optimisation of engine drive to allow the electric motor to be used wherever possible. Their disadvantage is that they are heavier than conventionalmodels because of the need to accommodate a relatively large battery pack, an electric motor and an inverter in addition to a conventional engine. This increases their manufacturing costs and reduces their potential efficiency in terms of emissions reduction (IEA 2004). Nevertheless, fuel-economy ratings suggest fuel economy for hybrids as being 25% or better than for conventional vehicles, although recent research conducted in the United States suggests smaller gains in fuel economy.” (Ref: CO_0272)
  • “Policies and strategies for CO2 emission reduction have set targets for 2020 to increase the share of bio-fuels and of alternative hydrocarbon fuels. Targets have also been set for the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technology as economic, safe and reliable alternatives to fossil fuel. Research indicates promising applications for electric vehicles for short distances, hydrogen and methane for medium distances, and bio-fuels/synthetic fuels, LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) and LPG for long distances to reduce CO2 emissions from road transport. New concepts for freight transport based on electricity may change the logistics chain. The expected market penetration of alternative fuels and propulsion systems in road transport is presented in Figure below.” (Ref: CO_0234)

[1] The Green Cars Initiative is one of three public private partnerships launched in November 2008 under the European Recovery Plan to alleviate the consequences of the economic crises.

[2]    Internal Combustion Engines

Figure 1‑87 Market penetration of fuel and propulsion systems

 

Source: Towards low carbon transport in Europe (Ref: CO_0234)

  • “During the coming decades, widely varying technologies will likely coexist, including alternative fuels such as second-generation biofuels or gas-to-liquid diesel, but also other innovations such as homogenous compression ignition.” (Ref: CO_0005)
Figure 1‑88 Roadmap from combustion to fuel cell

 

 

Source: The Future of Mobility (Ref: CO_0005)

  • “Currently, there is mainly one long-term alternative propulsion system under development: electrification of the power train in different stages by using fuel cells or batteries.” (Ref: CO_0017)
  • “In case electrification would not be deployed on a large-scale, biofuels and other alternative fuels would need to play a greater role to achieve the same level of emissions reduction in the transport sector. For bio-fuels this could lead, directly or indirectly, to a decrease of the net greenhouse gas benefits and increased pressure on bio-diversity, water management and the environment in general.” (Ref: CO_0194)
  • “First-generation bio-fuels from food crops are unsustainable and are unlikely to have a significant long-term future. However, second-generation biofuels from waste are in development, such as cellulosic ethanol. This can be distilled from plant waste headed for landfill such as corn stalks, timber chippings, even low-grade paper. It is estimated that cellulosic ethanol from these sources could provide a third of the USA’s transport fuel requirements; there is also potential for effective deployment in the developing world, where most plant waste is currently burned.” (Ref: CO_5018)
  • “This reinforces the need to advance in 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels and to proceed with the ongoing work on indirect land use change and sustainability.” (Ref: CO_0194)
  • “Some emerging and novel technologies for producing ethanol or diesel from ligno-cellulosic feed-stocks look more promising. In some cases they can reduce emissions by more than 100% when co-products are used to produce heat and power, replacing fossil fuels for example. However, estimates for these processes are theoretical or based on pilot plants and the uncertainties are higher, since such plants are not yet operating at a commercial scale.” (Ref: CO_5032)
  • “Sustainable biofuels could be used as an alternative fuel especially in aviation and heavy duty trucks, with strong growth in these sectors after 2030.” (Ref: CO_0194)
  • “Several processes are under development that aim to produce fuels with properties very similar to diesel and kerosene. These fuels will be blendable with fossil fuels in any proportion, can use the same infrastructure and should be fully compatible with engines in heavy duty vehicles. Advanced biodiesel and bio-kerosene will become increasingly important (...) since demand for low-carbon fuels with high energy density is expected to increase significantly in the long term. Advanced biodiesel includes: hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) is produced by hydrogenating vegetable oils or animal fats (...); biomass-to-liquids (BtL) diesel, also referred to as Fischer-Tropsch diesel, is produced by a two-step process in which biomass is converted to a syngas rich in hydrogen and carbon monoxide. After cleaning, the syngas is catalytically converted through Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis into a broad range hydrocarbon liquids, including synthetic diesel and bio-kerosene.” (Ref: CO_5032)
  • “Various alternatives may replace petroleum as the primary vehicle fuel, but virtually all currently being developed will be more expensive than what petroleum cost in the past, and most impose their own problems. From a motorists’ perspective the primary change will be a gradual increase in costs over the century, regardless of which fuel is used.” (Ref: CO_5047)
  • “EIA projections show advanced technology vehicles accounting for 19 percent of light-duty sales in 2025. Alcohol flexible-fuel vehicles are expected to comprise about 8 percent of new sales, hybrids about 6 percent and turbo direct diesel vehicles about 4 percent. Travel in hybrids also is expected to grow significantly from 2003 to 2025, but would still represent less than 5 percent of total light-duty miles in 2025. Hydrogen is a potentially viable alternative to petroleum fuels in the long term.” (Ref: CO_4012)

Interactions within the Technology Domain

Material technology

  • “Powering a car with batteries is basically a question of numbers. The more you have, the further you can expect it to go. However, larger batteries do not necessarily bring more mileage. Their sheer weight and size can cancel out power gains and limit performance; a battery in a 1200 kg Tesla Roadster weighs in at a hefty 450 kg. This is encouraging the automotive industry to look for other ways to reduce weight and improve performance.” (Ref: CO_0258)
  • “To make purely electric vehicles (EV) more widely usable, research is urgently searching for ways to increase battery capacity, while also reducing their considerable weight and bulk.” (Ref: CO_0260)
  • “Reducing weight is a key factor in determining the final performance of any electric vehicle,” (Ref: CO_0258)

Pollution abatement and monitoring

  • “Measures that address air pollution abatement on vehicles also have the potential to lead to slightly higher CO2 emissions in some forms of engine technology and exhaust treatment systems.” (Ref: CO_0134)
  • “Emissions of both primary PM2.5 and PM10, and precursors of secondary PM, are expected to decrease as vehicle technologies are further improved and stationary fuel combustion emissions are controlled through abatement measures or the use of low-S fuels such as natural gas.” (Ref: CO_0134)

Energy Efficiency

  • “The most exciting area so far as potential for the increased energy efficiency of vehicles is concerned is engine technology.” (Ref: CO_0272)
  • “Substantial improvements in fuel economy and GHG emission performance are achievable today just through greater utilization of existing technology. Using a fuel mix of electricity, biofuels, and hydrogen could significantly reduce the number of gasoline-powered passenger vehicles on the road by 2050. Technological advances in other vehicles including trucks, buses, and airplanes could improve the efficiency of those modes substantially.” (Ref: CO_4013)
  • “Furthermore, the efficiency of engines, both electric and diesel, is expected to be improved, resulting in an overall decrease in energy consumption in the rail sector (even though the sector is expected to increase its production up to 2030 and most likely beyond).” (Ref: CO_5048)
  • “Substantial near-term improvements in the fuel economy of new light-duty vehicles can be achieved using available, cost-effective technologies. By 2015, new car fuel consumption can be reduced by up to 25% at low cost by fully exploiting available technologies. In some cases these have negative costs to consumers because the time–discounted vale of fuel savings is greater than the cost of the technologies.” (Ref: CO_0272)
  • “Buses, with their frequent stops and starts, are particularly suited to energy recovery. Flywheel KERS that can be installed in standard buses have been shown to offer more than 30 % percent fuel saving over a London test cycle.” (Ref: CO_0260)

Interactions with the Social Domain

Urbanisation

  • “Although advanced ICEs are expected to dominate road transport for several decades, especially in long-distance transport modes, the global competition for affordable energy and resources will lead to increasing diversification of energy sources, fuel types, and vehicles. This diversification will be greatest in urban environments where the transport and distance requirements are more compatible with diversified energy types and new energy distribution infrastructures.” (Ref: CO_0294)
  • “Each new technology has advantages and disadvantages. Some are better for urban driving and others for long-distance driving. For example, a hybrid petrol vehicle is a very good performer (low CO2 emissions) in urban driving through the frequent involvement of the electric motor and the regeneration of braking energy back to the batteries. However, in highway driving where the electric motor has only a secondary role to play and braking is infrequent, a small diesel vehicle may actually be a better performer due to the higher efficiency of the diesel engine over the petrol engine in the hybrid vehicle.” (Ref: CO_5030)
  • “Trials with various forms of supercapacitor-assisted buses have also been underway for several years. The short distances between stops on urban routes even makes it feasible to operate without need for a battery. The supercapacitor can be recharged at regular intervals, collecting sufficient energy when the bus is stationary for 20-30 seconds – i.e. the normal passenger unloading/loading times – to proceed for a further one or two stops. This has been done using so-called ‘electric umbrellas’ that rise from the vehicle roof to contact charging points similar to the overhead systems of tramways and light railways. A full recharge, taking perhaps 10 minutes, can be carried out when the vehicle reaches its terminal destination.” (Ref: CO_0260)
  • “Taking a system approach to the Road Transport System, the development of a diversity of powertrains is needed to meet the mobility demands of passengers and freight for both urban and long distance transport.” (Ref: CO_5033)
Figure 1 78 Mobility solutions for both urban and long-distance travel

 

 

Source: European Green Cars Initiative PPP. Multi-annual roadmap and long-term strategy (Ref: CO_5033)

Planning

  • “It was concluded that 40 miles of charge depleting range is necessary for an average PHEV if no infrastructure is available outside of the owner's primary residence. If public charging infrastructure is available, allowing PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) charging outside of the owner's primary residence, the charge depleting range can be lowered to 13 miles. It is, therefore, considered important to evaluate charging infrastructure in both residential and commercial settings because the availability of a rich charging infrastructure can reduce the onboard energy storage requirement (i.e., battery size) for PHEVs.” (Ref: CO_5059)
  • “Better Place[1] – battery subscription has been set up to counter the two main obstacles to mass adoption of electric vehicles (i.e. cars that solely use batteries, as opposed to hybrids). Better Place stations allow you to switch a used battery in your car for a fully charged one in a few minutes, avoiding the need for hours of recharging during a long journey. Better Place also allows you to subscribe to a battery service. This means that drivers don’t have to pay to own the battery – which is usually the most expensive component of a fully electric vehicle. Better Place is due to launch commercially in 2011 in Denmark and Israel, in partnership with Renault which has designed a switchable-battery electric.” (Ref: CO_5018)

[1] http://www.betterplace.com/

Change of lifestyle and values

  • “For EVs to be attractive, quick charging mechanisms are needed, such as overnight charging with standard electrical supply.” (Ref: CO_0284)

Health

  • “(...) a future large scale uptake of electric vehicles could lead to significant benefits arising from the displacement of harmful air pollutants from urban to rural areas (where fossil-fuelled power stations are typically situated) where population exposure is lower.” (Ref: CO_0134).

Interactions with the Economy Domain

GDP trends

  • “New technologies such as electric cars and e-bikes also give rise to new opportunities for value creation.” (Ref: CO_5019)

Regional differences in economics

  • “The potential for electric vehicles (EVs) differs among countries. New Zealand strives for 90 % EVs in 2025. In India, on the other hand, constraints on electricity production prevent widespread use of EVs. And in China, power production will rely on coal for the next 20 years at least. The potential for electric cars in those large economies thus seems limited, at least in as far as they are seen as means to cutting transport emissions.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “In addition, biofuels can support economic development by creating new sources of income in rural areas.” (Ref: CO_5032)

Availability of public and private resources and investments in the transport sector

  • “Alternative fuels and propulsion systems are based on extensive research to enable a shift from fossil fuel dependence to decarbonised transport. While research has led to a range of promising fuels and technologies to meet emission reduction targets, market uptake will require further R&I[1] investment and other policy interventions to bring emission reduction closer to 2050 targets.” (Ref: CO_0234)
  • “There are impediments to innovation and to the dissemination of innovation in the transport sector, which reside in factors of funding, governance, acceptability, and regulation. To begin with, R&D costs are great, and are often difficult to justify in transport, given low profit margins and the long life spans of assets, which mean that returns on investment take a long time to manifest themselves.” (Ref: CO_0293)
  • “Should either electric or fuel-cell driven cars be introduced on a major scale, a radically new infrastructure will be necessary – in the case of the electric car, several hundred million Euros will be needed to prepare a country of the size of Israel. Investment cost for the United States were estimated by the Climate Group to be in the range of 100 billion USD.” (Ref: CO_0005)
  • “New technologies such as electric cars and e-bikes also give rise to new opportunities for value creation. Facilitating infrastructure such as public recharging stations will be required, and cities will have to engage with the private sector to develop new and innovative solutions. Neil Walker of Bombardier Transportation cited the example of his company’s PrimoveCity inductive charging solution as an innovation that liberates electric vehicles from the weight and cost-constraints imposed by high-range batteries. Implementing such a system on a city-scale will require fundamental changes to how urban roads are financed and managed.” (Ref: CO_5019)

[1] Research and Innovation

Foreign trade, globalisation

  • “(...) global competition for the electric vehicle market will be intense. The speed with which car manufacturers and their suppliers are able to develop these new vehicles and bring them to market is likely to be a decisive factor.” (Ref: CO_0258)

Energy availability and prices

  • “If we calculate ‘Tank-to-Wheel’, that is to say only on the vehicle, an electric vehicle consumes around three times less final energy (= petrol, diesel or electricity) than a fossil fuel vehicle with the same weight and the same performance (excluding driving range). However, energy is required to produce fossil fuel and electricity, as well as to distribute them. If we include this energy, then fossil fuel vehicles consume ‘Well-to-Wheel’ 20 to 80% more primary energy than electric vehicles of the same weight and performance, excluding driving range (20% = diesel-lead comparison, 80% = petrol-lithium comparison).” (Ref: CO_5044)
  •  “Production and use of biofuels can also provide benefits such as increased energy security, by reducing dependency on oil imports, and reducing oil price volatility.” (Ref: CO_5032)
  •  “Not least, prices for traditional fuels need to be high – historically, they have not been at a high enough level to induce a shift towards EVs.” (Ref: CO_0284)

Fiscal policy

  • “A potential future barrier to alternative fuel consumption in transport (mainly electricity and biofuels) is the revenue which arises from current fuel-related taxes (applied to petrol and diesel). The likely progressive electrification of transport and the increasing use of alternative fuels will call for a reinforcement of fuel taxes towards fair energy‑carbon taxes. The subject is being considered in the recent proposal to revise the Energy Taxation Directive (EC, 2011g), that aims to restructure the way energy products are taxed and takes into account both CO2 emissions and energy content. The objective is to remove artificial barriers to energy transition such as fuel subsidies and the substantial revenue from taxation on fossil fuels that some Member States obtain.” (Ref: CO_5030)

Interactions with the Environment Domain

GHG mitigation

  • “The upshot is that reducing CO2-emissions appears to be first and foremost a technological challenge. Prioritising technological change to alter transport’s energy base may be the best bet to cutting carbon, in the sense of being most likely to succeed and in doing so at reasonable cost.” (Ref: CO_0160)
  • “Whilst some of the life-cycle GHG reductions are expected to be made in upstream emissions from conventional fuels (e.g. reduced flaring and venting at oil production sites), it is currently anticipated that a significant part of the reductions will be achieved through the increased use of biofuels.” (Ref: CO_5030)
  • “But even if these technologies (fuel cell or batteries) have a higher efficiencies than internal combustion engines, it has to be kept in mind that their overall efficiency and greenhouse gas balance depend significantly on the source of the energy carrier.” (Ref: CO_0017)
  • “When biofuel production involves a change in land use then there may be additional emission impacts – positive or negative – that must be taken into account in calculating the GHG balance. The land-use change can be: direct, as when biofuels feedstocks are grown on land that was previously forest; indirect, when biofuel production displaces the production of other commodities, which are then produced on land converted elsewhere (perhaps in another region or country).” (Ref: CO_5032)
  • “Changes in light-duty vehicle technologies have not significantly impacted CO2 emissions. For the most part, these technologies have been used to improve vehicle power, safety, and driving performance, rather than to increase vehicle fuel economy.” (Ref: CO_4012)
  • “Alternative fuels do not necessarily emit less greenhouse gases than gasoline when used to power a vehicle. Most alternative fuels do contain less carbon per unit of energy than gasoline, but do not necessarily emit less total emissions well to wheel – including emissions from the extraction of the alternative fuel or feedstock, energy used in its production, distribution and storage, and its use in vehicles – in a life cycle analysis of fuel.” (Ref: CO_0272)
  • “A few alternative fuels promise substantial reductions of greenhouse gases on a full fuel-cycle basis everywhere. These include ethanol and methanol under certain circumstances, namely when these alcohols are derived from cellulosic (woody) feedstock using advanced, low-energy production processes.” (Ref: CO_0272)
  • “Short-term savings in well-to-wheel emissions can be gained through: the use of turbo-injection diesel engines running on low sulphur fuel (25%); the use of natural gas (LPG, CNG or LNG) as a fuel (around 20% for CNG); cellulosic alcohols (ethanol and methanol) and biodiesel promise larger reductions (50% or more); and hydrogen, although the net reduction of emissions depends on how the hydrogen is obtained – on current technologies it has substantially higher emissions, but it could be considerably lower with new, advanced technologies.” (Ref: CO_0272)
  • “Much greater GHG reductions are possible with electric drive propulsion technologies. These include the increasingly popular hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids which use both electricity and petroleum fuels, battery electric vehicles and hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles. Such technologies can double vehicle fuel efficiency. The life cycle GHG emissions, considering the potential to use low carbon electricity and hydrogen, can be reduced by at least 80 per cent.” (Ref: CO_0148)
  • “Large potential GHG benefits can be achieved by powering vehicles with hydrogen (and fuel cells) and electricity, with plug-in hybrids and battery electrics. Electric drive vehicles, powered by low carbon versions of these fuels made with biomass, wind, nuclear energy, or with fossil energy coupled with carbon capture and storage, could yield much greater GHG reductions than with vehicle efficiency improvements alone.” (Ref: CO_0148)
  • “The role of bioenergy systems in reducing GHG emissions needs to be evaluated by comparison with the energy systems they replace using life-cycle assessment (LCA) methodology.” (Ref: CO_5032)
  • “Not all vehicle technology and fuel options can be applied to each of the transportation subsectors because of specific requirements for characteristics such as power, weight, or vehicle range. Biofuels appear to be most applicable across all transportation subsectors as a “drop-in” fuel replacement for petroleum-based fuels. However, because they can only be made from biomass, they are likely to be limited by biomass resource availability and may also be limited by land-use change impacts, which may reduce or negate their GHG benefits. Hydrogen and electricity can be made from a wide range of domestic resources, and resource constraints are unlikely to be major impediments to their adoption; however, they may be limited in their applicability to some transportation subsectors (especially aviation, marine, and off-road).” (Ref: CO_5046)
  • “While low- and near-zero-carbon vehicles and fuels can go a long way to achieving GHG/energy reduction goals, other strategies will also be needed, especially in the near to midterm, before major technological improvements can be made.” (Ref: CO_0149)

Noise levels and emissions standards

  • “The gradual phasing out of ‘conventionally-fuelled’ vehicles from the urban environment is a major contribution to significant reduction of oil dependence, greenhouse gas emissions and local air and noise pollution.” (Ref: CO_0021)
  • “One of the positive consequences of introducing virtually silent electric road vehicles will be to make cities much quieter than they are today.” (Ref: CO_0260)

Energy availability, production and consumption

  • “It is (...) expected that different types of energy source could coexist in the future, depending on factors such as journey distance and payload – e.g. electricity for short trips and stop/start deliveries, combined electricity/hydrocarbons or hydrogen for medium distances, and hydrocarbons alone or hydrogen for longer runs.” (Ref: CO_0260)
  • “The environmental track record for both hybrid cars and pure electric cars strongly depends on the way the electricity used is generated – if gasoline is merely replaced by coal converted into electricity in conventional power plants, it would be unjustifiable to speak of decarbonisation.” (Ref: CO_0005)
  • “(...) it is widely recognised that electric cars will only make a significant difference if they are accompanied by a move towards smart grids and cleaner electricity generation (...). “(Ref: CO_0258)

Scarce resources of fossil fuels

  • “Electric mobility combines environmental sensitivity with achieving and expanding technological leadership in the automotive sector. And it contributes to reducing our dependence on finite fossil fuels.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “In sum, there is considerable scope for increasing the use of electricity as an energy source in transport. But whether electricity will replace fossil fuels as the main energy source in road transport is not at all obvious.” (Ref: CO_0284)

Scarce resources of raw materials

  • “(...) deployment of 'green' vehicles reduces the use of fossil fuels but increases the demand for electricity and certain raw materials, some of which are subject to supply restrictions and concentrated in a few geographical areas (e.g. rare earth elements for electronic components and fuel cells, lithium for batteries).” (Ref: CO_0195)

Impacts on Mobility and Transport

Towards a more sustainable mobility

  • “The use of hydrogen-fuelled transport will depend on the successful development of an affordable and widespread refuelling infrastructure. Currently, only a few expensive hydrogen refuelling stations exist worldwide, and refuelling station costs need to be reduced to make them commercially viable.” (Ref: CO_0018)
  • “Much effort is also being put into the development of charging infrastructures, which in the future will comprise interacting power, communications and software layers.” (Ref: CO_0260)
  • “Several recharging scenarios can be envisaged: charge at home – resulting in limited range, but little investment; charge when the car is at standstill – needing a great deal of ICT to locate filling sites, identify the supplier and manage payment (with significant data security implications); fast charging – which would have major impact on the grid and demand high infrastructural investment; and exchange of pre-charged batteries – demanding service stations with standardised pre-charged spares.” (Ref: CO_0260)
  • “The use of electric, hydrogen and hybrid technologies would not only reduce air emissions, but also noise, allowing a greater portion of freight transport within the urban areas to take place at night time. This would ease the problem of road congestion during morning and afternoon peak hours.” (Ref: CO_0021)

Increasing concerns about road safety

  • “(...) electric vehicles are likely to become an increasingly common sight on Europe’s roads in the not-too-distant future. Yet these novel cars pose novel challenges for road safety. The large battery pack in particular could represent a threat to the safety of both passengers and the emergency services in the aftermath of an accident. There are also questions regarding the crashworthiness of electric cars, which are generally smaller and lighter than conventional cars. The near-silent nature of electric vehicles represents an additional risk for road safety. Inside the vehicle, inexperienced drivers may not realise how fast they are travelling, while outside, cyclists and pedestrians may simply fail to hear them coming.” (Ref: CO_0266)