A hybrid and electric vehicle forum that attracted delegates from around the world, has been told that carmakers will soon abandon the idea of fuel cells. Professor Bernard Fleet from Ryerson University Canada, said he was not convinced by several car companies saying they will launch fuel cell cars, saying that, in Canada they had bet most of their money on fuel cells with little to show for it. Professor Fleet is involved with Electrovaya, the Canadian battery company that hopes to turn a profit next year.
The line up of speakers included representatives from the European Commission (EC) who were trying to justify the commission’s 500 million euros expenditure in backing EVs, on the fact that the European auto industry is over 350 billion euros industry that creates 12 million jobs.
According to one presentation, a major EC success was discovering how to reduce rare earths in traction motors by 80% and that the EC plan is for 0.5 million EVs including hybrids by 2016 and five million in 2020.
Curiously defining a mild hybrid as a series hybrid and a full hybrid as a parallel hybrid, the speaker made the interesting point that with people preferring to charge at home, prices of chargers were plummeting.
A faster charger can cost $20,000 with a high cost of installation. On the other hand, power semiconductor prices have not dropped which may lead to them being abandoned if DC chargers become ubiquitous.”
Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx described how all mechanical, electric and electronics components are set to change disruptively and often merge, with structural electronics becoming important.
He also had some concerns about the consumer proposition for fuel cell range extenders. He said that inductive charging will arrive slowly but pointed out that vehicles with two traction motors are now extremely common and other changes are coming earlier than predicted, including availability of GaAs and SiC inverters being on sale this year.
Takanori Toshii of Mitsubishi Motors re-iterated that small vehicles are the first to be viable as pure electric. Another project involved power sharing into the grid. He described new hybrids including SUVs, claiming to have a unique hybrid powertrain that can work as pure electric, series hybrid and parallel hybrid. Note this is yet another two motor system but in a different configuration from the Toyota Prius.
Takanori noted that the Japanese ChaDeMo standard for contacted charging was creeping around the world with advanced work including a networked solar charging system for agricultural vehicles. He also told the delegates that the Mitsubishi racing car uses a lithium-ion battery not a super capacitor as seen in Toyota and Renault versions.
One of the best presentations was by Adriaan Davidse of Deloitte in Canada, who presented figures showing how electrification could save huge energy costs in the mining industry, especially if the electricity cames from solar power.
He described how one mining company spent one billion dollars a year on energy, a figure increasing sharply, so now the infrastructure, planning and logistics need to be power centric, questioning why over 90% of the giant trucks are diesel.
With remote mines, just delivery of diesel can cost 40c/kWh against 7c for local solar. 90% of mining is open pit and he convincingly made the case that fast charging battery swapping for the trucks kept at the bottom and the top of the mine and a rail-veyor for lifting from the mine floor is viable.
Read more at Electric Vehicle Research