E-mobility: what is and how to develop it
E-mobility is nowadays one of the greatest challenges of our planet.
All fields of contemporary industry actually want to be “green”: public opinion is now increasingly aware of the importance of safeguarding the environment of our world , especially for generations to come.
Even larger companies seem to have realized it and are looking for solutions to contribute to this general trend.
E-mobility is one of the solutions they are aiming to.
Mobility is a fundamental value of contemporary society, especially in urban areas.
In the last 50 years, vehicles have allowed greater flexibility to people, making easier for them to choose where to work or to live, ensuring greater accessibility to primary services such as schools, hospitals, shopping areas and so on.
However the automotive industry has certainly been one of the main contributors to world pollution.
Today’s mobility has to be sustainable in terms of safety and performances but, above all, in terms of environmental implications.
Nowadays Governments are focusing on this concept and “clear mobility” became a key factor in their policies: they are aiming to adopt programs and measures to substantially reduce carbon emissions of private and commercial vehicles in order to achieve the global goal of reducing gas emissions in the next years.
These are the reasons why the design and development of environment-friendly vehicles, such as electric vehicles is one of the main challenge of our society.
What is e-mobility and why is it so important to safeguard the planet for the future?
What is e-mobility
Electric mobility, or e-mobility, refers to all the vehicles using electric power as the main source of energy instead of traditional fossil fuels and oils.
Electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles and even vehicles using hydrogen fuel are part of this classification.
A hybrid car has an internal combustion engine, an electric motor and a rechargeable battery.
The battery is plugged in an electric source and it is the primary source of energy but these vehicles are also equipped with an internal combustion engine (ICE), which can be used to recharge the battery or to move the vehicle when the distance exceeds the battery operating time.
E-mobility is not a new concept as these technologies has existed for about 15 years. However, high costs, the lack of capillary charging networks and a poor battery capacity have so far made this type of vehicles very uncommon on the market.
Today the general aim to produce environmental friendly and efficient vehicles that use innovative solutions in areas such as batteries in order to make electric vehicles an efficient alternative to traditional vehicles.
History of e-mobility: a story began a long time ago
Cars have a central role in e-mobility, but actually, changing into electric cars was not so easy for automotive companies.
They started developing electric-powered cars in the middle of 19th century – they considered them the cars of the future. However this concept was set aside later, to produce other types of easier- to- produce cars.
Global issues on oil supply and oil crises together with environmental issues, such as the climate changes experienced in the 20th century, have spurred again the auto manufacturers to find new solutions in the production of vehicles.
Why e-mobility: what are the benefits of electric mobility?
Electric mobility is a very good alternative to safeguard the environment as traditional vehicles are one of the main responsible for Co2 emissions and air pollution.
Central governments now agree that Co2 emissions are a major cause of global pollution and intend to issue regulations and lows to minimize this impact. Subsidies to environment-friendly vehicles, such as electric cars are part of this program.
Moreover, the United States and the European Union agree that investing in e-mobility can lead to an important economic growth:
- E-mobility development means a reduction of costs for oil supply in the transportation sector.
- Competition among car makers will lead them to design more energy- efficient vehicles which will offer better performance.
- New technologies imply new employment opportunities because for skilled professionals.
What are the next challenges for electric mobility?
Even if e-mobility sector is developing quickly, there is no doubt that a use of these vehicles on a global scale is still faraway.
There are some important aspects that should be focused on:
- Electric vehicles today are not very cheap and this often dissuades customers from buying them, but in fact these costs are attributed to the high costs that research and development carry ;
- Battery improvement – as the overall performance of the car of the future will depend on its battery’s performance;
- Massive collaboration among the major players as a single entity cannot offer the progress required. A collaboration amongst all the entities, stakeholders and with the central government is going to needed;
- Customers should be educated and informed about electric vehicles and the advantages that the use of this type of vehicles might produce.
Electric vehicles and car-sharing: the importance of this connection
Car-sharing has been increasing a lot in the recent times. This happens thanks to the affordable fees, the ease of finding cars available, the use the mobile apps to manage them and, above all, the difficulties to use the private cars in the city centers.
Before talking about the existing connection between electric vehicles development and car-sharing, let’s go to understand what car-sharing is.
What is car sharing?
Car-sharing is a new type of mobility, which has increased a lot over the last years in city centers of the western world.
It is estimated that, only in Italy, this mobility system is grown by 35% in the last six month, getting 4,2 million bookings.
Usually these kind of cars allow to access the restricted traffic zone of the city center and also include parking fees.
Moreover, car sharing is favorably viewed by city governments, because it is a way to reduce traffic jam and carbon emissions, but what actually is car-sharing?
Car sharing is a service allowing the customer to book the first, closest available car and to return it at the same point or in a different location.
The payment fee will depend on the length of time the customer used the service. The main concept is not to own a car but simply to use one.
Why car sharing is connected to e-mobility and why this connection is important?
Car sharing users are usually a very homogeneous social group, aged between 30 and 40, who does not own a car.
Introducing electric vehicles in car-sharing is an easy way to introduce these kinds of vehicle to customers and to educate them to their advantages. It can be a great opportunity especially for people who don’t have yet their own car or who cannot afford it.
In this way, they can understand that these vehicles are not just environmentally-friendly but that they can also be part of a part of their everyday life and they are easy to use.
Moreover, car-sharing is a way to safeguard the environment and, at the same time, to contain the high costs that electric cars can have for private users.
European commission: The European Union initiatives according to e-mobility
Environmental issues are leading the European Union and its Member States to introduce new policies to reduce greenhouse emissions; in particular, they aim to a 20% reduction by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.
The goal is to improve the air quality and to introduce decarburization in transport.
A possible answer to this problem is to invest in e-mobility.
This is the reason why the European Union now considers it like a priority.
The European commission initiatives for e-mobility
In order to reduce its dependence on oil and to fulfill the goals set by the Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emissions from the transport sector as a measure to contrast climate change, the European Commission has issued a document aiming to develop the sustainable mobility and to encourage the use of the green alternatives to traditional fuel in all EU countries,
The plan wants to promote the building of new refueling stations for alternative fuels, such as LPG, methane and bio fuels and to increase the number of electric charging stations all over Europe which are very few at the moment.
The end goal is to install at least 800,000 charging points by 2020.
Moreover, the European Commission set also a recharge standard for all European countries and declared that hybrid cars are inefficient in terms of emission reductions. This is the reason why they havn’t been included in the alternative mobility category and amongst the measures to encourage this sector’s development.
Finally, the European Union actions to e-mobility development also include the adoption of various types of incentives to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles and to stimulate the upgrade of the electricity distribution networks.
What is the future of e-mobility?
According to some studies, all cars sold in Europe by 2025 will be electric or hybrid.
It means that automotive market will require new technologies and improvements to keep pace with change.
A new approach to vehicle design is required, involving a closer collaboration between manufacturing and design teams.
The approach to electric mobility might differ depending by the continent: while Asia probably will tend to produce completely electric vehicles, due to its great issues connected to pollution, Europe could probably keep the hybrid gas engine, due to the road conditions and the recharging network which is still very poor.
In America the hybrid vehicle market could still increase.
Electric vehicles of the future will have simpler technologies and smaller engines.
These advancements will eventually reduce the cost of these vehicles, so that many more people will be able to afford them.
A challenge for the future: e-mobility quick charging
As we mentioned before, customers nowadays still don’t have a great will to replace their traditional vehicles with an electric one.
One of the main issue is connected to the required charging time and to the battery capacity, which is still too poor, especially for long distances.
Improve charging times is one of the challenge for e-mobility of the future.
Luckily something is changing and technology is now making giant step in recent times to make electric vehicles a real alternative to traditional mobility systems.
Researchers are still at work to produce macrocells and battery packs that can provide high performance at interesting costs: we are sure there will be important changes in this sector in the next future.