Now that I look back 10 years and see the EV world we live in. It feels like all the innovation and change came to be rapidly. All this new and upcoming tech has interesting implications which leads me to think: What our EV future will look like?
Even with the coronavirus shaking things in this Q1 of 2020, I am still an unshaken optimist what comes to the EV revolution in the long run.
You see, the number of newly registered EVs more than doubled in Europe this Q1, and still both USA and China saw growth as well (Bloomberg NEF). This shows us that EV revolution is not depended on one country, but we can move forward even with one important player sitting (temporarily) in the sidelines.
And if we look at the big picture, here Bloomberg's 2019 Electric Vehicle Outlook report shows us the long term development we can expect in the 30 years to come. Just look at the growth curve.
Now if we put this into perspective, it is clear we are still living in the infancy of EV revolution and big changes are about to happen. Which sets the table for our electric EV future for next five years to come…
Often looking at the past may bring us clarity in understanding the future. And that’s how I believe it’s this time with EV future as well. And a good comparison here is what happened to the mobile/smartphone revolution in the past 30 years.
In the 80’s and 90’s it was rare to have a mobile phone, and the first ones that existed were huge.
Since then the tech has taken a quantum leap in terms of battery size, processing power and world-wide adoption. Simultaneously this tech got cheaper, even so that nowadays everyone has got a smartphone with more processing power than NASA used to put a man on the moon.
So will change the EV and EV charging world as well.
It is why, in the years to come, I believe the home chargers will find their way into every EV owner’s garage, because it is simply a convenient place to fill your battery, as your car will stay stationary while you sleep.
What makes night especially appealing time to charge your battery is that electricity often is cheaper (demand is lower as everyone is asleep). This you can actually do even today with SMART chargers. And with these getting more affordable more and more of SMART charging equipment are going to find their way into homes of EV owners.
The other side of this coin is that the “era of free public EV charging” is approaching its evening. Partly because of the rise in home EV charging, but more so because the availability of EV chargers is getting better. People simply appreciate their time and are willing to pay for the electricity rather than drive 15 extra min for the free charging point.
What does this mean for retail businesses using free charging as a customer attractor?
This can be a good thing if you stop and think about it. It creates more incentives for businesses to expand the charging infrastructure as they can earn EV charging and not just give away the electricity for free. Simultaneously some companies are going to adopt rapid EV chargers as their new customer attractor.
So in short, EV charging is going to transform from a “nice to have benefit” into a requirement, which will lead into expansion and development of EV charging infrastructure.
Lucky for the shopping centers and other retail outlets who don’t want to set up their own EV charging stations, they can get the service outsourced from charging point network operators. These actors are also going to experience big changes and concentration of ownership, because smaller companies are being bought and charging alliances are being formed.
Something that is sure to boost this kind of spreading of EV charging points, is the clarity in EV and EV charging related legislation. More subsidies are being introduced and more is constantly required from building/parking space owners.
One such example is the 2021 enforced European directive (EPBD), which will encourage (and at times even makes it mandatory for) public building owners, such as super-markets or business parks, to install EV charging stations at their parking lot. And certainly, we have other Green deal agreements as well mobilizing the whole society, public and private, to drive us towards the growth curve you saw at the start of this blog post.
Role of governments is also highlighted in the fresh EV market report which sets a positive tone for us to wait for the year 2027, that’s when we can expect to see EV market reach 1 212 billion dollars in size. The report concludes that, “The market is driven by initiatives taken by governments of various countries to promote manufacturing of Electric Vehicles”.
So, governments truly hold the seat of importance here and the legislation, is necessary to put in place, so we can witness the growing number of EVs and fill all the EV batteries soon to enter our streets in need of electricity.
All this seems to create a kind of a self-reinforcing cycle, where wider adoption brings down prices which will lead into again wider adoption in both EVs and EV chargers. So, the EV demand isn’t going anywhere in the long run, rather expanding even if we have a couple of bumps on the road.
Now five years into our EV future is where this story gets an exciting spin.
All that happens 5 years into EV future, is built on what goes on in the two years we just went through. One of the biggest developments I expect to see is that we get clarity on legislation regarding: EV charging, subsidies and EV standardization.
This legislation will set a solid ground for the big changes to come.
As one development I expect to see a more solid concentration of EV charging network operators. It can be that the new players (solely focused on filling EV batteries) conquer this ground, or possibly the gas station brands of the old world may go electric as well. Signs of this shift in the oil industry already exist as for example Shell is investing in battery technology. One thing is for sure, both want to win.
Whichever it may be, the number of charging stations is certainly going to increase and we are sure to see more rapid DC charging stations and EV charging in public spaces, as charging infrastructure expands and more rapid charging is demanded.
It may be that in five years 10-15 minutes charging time is the new normal outside of your home.
Talking about homes and charging...
In one of my favorite scenarios we also have governments stepping in to support V2G (Vehicle to Grid) with legislation. It is the technology that can transmit energy from an EV back to the energy grid. This has some interesting implications…
It has the potential to transform your EV from an expenditure (like traditional cars) into an investment that pays itself back, much like dividend stocks.
You see, V2G allows you to not only charge your car cheaply with a SMART charger, but even sell your energy back to the grid when the price exceeds what you paid for it.
Ensto EV chargers (Ensto Wallbox and Ensto Pro) can already do this with the added SMART charging function. But today, for us to use the benefits of V2G in full potential, the regulation is needed in place so we can sell electricity back to the grid.
Once done, the grid connected EVs have the potential to stabilize our grid from energy overloads and reduce electricity prices during these hours, as they provide the market with more electricity supply. Now this can totally revolutionize the energy market as not just the big power plants are supplying our society with energy, but you and I do as well, as the EV owners. The least this could do is lower energy prices in the day time, when all home appliances are turned on.
So you see, EV related tech is not only affecting the EV world, but our whole society and way of life.
The aforementioned is why I am waiting for the year 2025. That is when EVs are forecasted to match traditional cars in price and it will likely hasten the EV revolution as more EV enthusiasts can buy what they want.
The decrease in battery pack prices sure boosts EV adoption as well. A good illustration of what happened to the lithium-ion battery pack price in the last decade is show below (Bloomberg NEF).
Today the demand for even better batteries is increasing. That is likely to cause more investment to flow in this space and continue the same devolopment you see in the graph above.
Simultaneously, it will be interesting to see what goes on in the battery technology. Tesla is already planning to produce a battery pack that lasts 1 000 000 miles (1 609 344 km), which for some drivers equal a lifetime of driving.
All this put together, it's interesting to see where we are in the five years to come, but one thing is certain. The increasing number of EVs, better battery life, battery capacity and developing charging network have the potential to change our entire way of life.
Just think what the mobile phone revolution did? We became reachable wherever we went. After which we saw the rise of smartphones, that hardly anyone was able to imagine in the 80’s and 90’s.
Now what is going to happen when we have electricity traveling with us wherever we go? Be it in the wilderness or any rural area with no grid… you will always have enough electricity for a few days of supply. What doors can this “new way of life” open for us?
The potential is huge and the market, innovation and engineers are sure to come up with applications that we can’t even think of at the moment. Basically, anything electricity powered has now the potential to become portable.
There is just no knowing where the EV revolution will take us in the end, but one thing is certain. In the decades to come, you are not going to recognize the world we are going to live in.
Sales Manager, EV charging
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Ensto Finland Oy