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Electric Vehicle Motors: Next Big Thing say New IDTechEx Research Report

January 22, 2019



Electric Vehicle Motors: Next Big Thing say New IDTechEx Research Report




EV motors have lasted for over 100 years on boats and their design changed slowly. Now some last only a few years and they are subject to rapid technology change and an acquisition frenzy. What is going on? The new IDTechEx report, “Electric Motors for Electric Vehicles: Land, Water, Air 2019-2029” explains and – in over 30 ten-year forecasts and roadmaps – predicts.




Firstly, the numbers are awesome. The electric vehicle business is entering the rapid growth part of the sigmoid growth curve of most major new technologies. It is headed to create a $100+ billion traction motor business in 2029. Make it double that if you include the units in which the motors are increasingly integrated, such as wheels, axles or transmission.


Premium pricing is increasingly possible because the motors not only become motor generators much of the time – they make new things possible. For example, going beyond four-wheel drive to vectored steering stops construction and agricultural vehicles ripping up roads and makes them smaller, lower cost and more capable, increasing sales.


Up to 20 motor-propellers on aircraft wings exploits the new principle of “distributed thrust” so the wing can be half the size or take off using half the distance. Multicopters planned for air taxis are notoriously inefficient and flying ones with only 30 minutes’ endurance over a city is just plain irresponsible, but large numbers of thrusters close together reduces the deficit against a helicopter. The Nikola fuel cell truck has six in-wheel motors, so it has superb traction and does not rip the tires off when accelerating – similar logic to the Tesla S adding a second motor.


Yes, the proliferation of motors, including in military boats and off-road transport for attack survival, means the motor market is growing even faster than the EV market.


Secondly, prices are often rising. You cannot buy a starter-motor-generator for the 17 million unitmarket for 48V mild hybrid trucks and cars in 2029 for the same price as a simple single motor.Indeed, some of these vehicles will have two! You cannot buy four in-wheel motors for the cars recently announced if you want to pay the price of one inboard motor.


Thirdly, there is an acquisition frenzy and it has a pattern. With many vehicle makers, from Toyota to the small Zero Motorcycles, making their own motor-generators as key enabling technology, the Tier One component suppliers are often faced with stark consequences from their inadequate R&D. From buying broad range motor makers such as Remy, they are now targetingspecific up and coming technologies. What do acquisitions SR Drives, CPT and Visedo have in common with Tesla making its own motor for the Tesla 3? They all involve switched reluctance, potentially the lowest cost, most rugged motor-with-control. It has size and performance advantages over other ways of avoiding permanent magnet price hikes and temperature limitations. Yes, some have some small magnets for now, but the point is made.


So why do motors die so soon in many applications compared to those 100 year old electric boats? Tough duty cycles and they are getting tougher. For example, huge drones up for ten years beaming the internet will not only need 20kW/kg motors as the report details, they will need incredibly reliable motors as will tethered drones generating megawatts from high level winds. Billions of dollars of investment is going in: premium pricing awaits. Just the same as the monster unmanned trucks in totally automated deep mines this year. The new IDTechEx report, “Electric Motors for Electric Vehicles: Land, Water, Air 2019-2029” reveals which motor technology innovators will be the next targets of those urgently seeking to catch up and why.

For more contact the IDTechEx Research team on research@IDTechEx.com or visitwww.IDTechEx.com/motors.

Electric Vehicles Do Not Need to be Poisonous By Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx

April 06, 2018



Electric Vehicles Do Not Need to be Poisonous
By Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx



Diesel vehicles land, water and air, are on the way out because they emit poisons – antimony, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, cyanide, dioxin, lead, nickel, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and sulfur compounds and carcinogenic submicron particulates, organics and more. The brew has a lot in common with the poisons inhaled from smoking tobacco. However, the new electronics and electrics in and on vehicles appearing over the next ten years will contain most those poisons and add more. Yes, most may be no threat for one reason or another but much of it is questionable particularly since alternatives exist or are emerging. Indeed a large number of devices per vehicle each with minimal toxicant materials may still add up to something damaging at some stage aselectric vehicle sales grow rapidly – land, water and air. Those alternatives are mostly little known and they are rarely a priority in funding for optimisation or adoption.



The new IDTechEx report, “Toxicant Materials and Alternatives in Electronics/ Electrics 2018-2028” reveals many of those safer alternatives and research to produce them. It also identifies where affordable alternatives with adequate electrical performance do not exist. These are gaps in the market, opportunities for someone and deserving of redirected research funding. Although many of the forms of poison in new electronics and electrics are relatively safe because of small volumes, encapsulation and other factors, the report concludes that the rapid proliferation of poisons in a widening variety of applications requires better monitoring and control.

Specifically, one carcinogen associated with birth defects should have a date set for a global ban, since alternatives are already successful in the marketplace in these devices in vehicles. A date is proposed.

So what else needs watching? Though not always, antimony is used in some thermoelectrics and batteries, flame retardant and asdopant in microchips. Arsenic is in planned gallium arsenide solar bodywork and is also a microchip dopant. See the IDTechExreport, “Energy Independent Electric Vehicles Land, Water, Air 2018-2028”. However, that toxic gallium arsenide will be at a level ofonly ten grams or less per car. One manufacturer says it is acceptable in landfill. Nonetheless, care will be needed if millions of cars adopt it. Controlled disposal may be prudent by then – a date is proposed. A business opportunity exists for an equally efficient,equally flexible alternative: researchers are on the job.

Cadmium is in some quantum dot displays and researcher’s photovoltaics, cobalt in lithium-ion batteries, thermoelectrics and motor magnets. Beryllium is in some vehicle parts. Dioxins are emitted by inappropriate burning of PVC: manganese is in lithium-ion batteries, electroluminescent displays and thermoelectrics. Lead in a whole panoply of existing and planned electronics and electrics such as the new perovskite photovoltaics, some quantum dot displays such as QLED television, sensors, piezoelectric transducers, actuators and energy harvesters. Indeed, the authors believe that it is time for developed countries to set a date for banning lead acid batteries. They suggest what that date should be. Many vehicles have abandoned lead acid batteries from the Porsche Spyder hybrid to many pure electric vehicles and planned 48V mild hybrids. See the IDTechEx report, “Mild Hybrid 48V Vehicles 2017-2027”, with a new version of the report coming very soon.

Of the other poisons declining from the diesel collapse, nickel returns in motor magnets and lithium-ion batteries but is not a major threat. Selenium appears in photovoltaics and sensors. Sulfur compounds are found in sensors, electroluminescent displays, photodetectors, planned photovoltaics and QLEDs. Those diesel nanoparticles associated with breast and lung cancer, asthma, heart disease, depression, triggering uncontrolled coughing and so on? Well something similar is used to make supercapacitor electrodes and many new forms of electronics though mercifully not as inhalable powder under normal operating conditions. There may be a disposal problem.

This is only a sample of diesel poisons returning or back already. Although most are low threat at present, indeed QLEDs andthermoelectrics have yet to appear in a car near you and quantum dots and microchip doping represent tiny volumes however,there is a prospect of some of the new poison-based devices selling in huge numbers. Think sensing, actuating and energy harvesting leading to up to 40 lead-based piezoelectrics per vehicle, one billion vehicles. Many such as those piezoelectrics can be a threat on abuse or disposal but no problem in normal use. Other examples, including ones of concern in use, are being announced all the time.

With some admirable exceptions, research laboratories and their funding typically chase performance before safety. That impedes development of non-toxicant products. Identifying and testing these new devices and electrical materials would be very demanding. Policing laws restricting their use or their toxicant content may become near impossible in some cases. Toxicity reference works are mostly badly out of date, repeating nostalgia like the contents of a cathode ray tube.

Beyond the automotive industry there are similar reasons for concern, often involving other chemistries and nanostructures. Some researchers believe that “surface irritants” such as carbon allotropes initiating pathologies leading to cancer can magnify the effects of chemical poisons so it is not simply a matter of saying that little material is involved in some cases.

It is unfortunate that lead acid batteries are being replaced by lithium ion batteries with toxicant electrolytes and poisons of concern such as phosphorus, cobalt, manganese, nickel and carbon allotropes. Indeed, putative replacements for lithium-ion often involve sulfur and other poisons though solid state electrolytes are likely to be non-toxicant and non-flammable. Battery elimination is therefore gaining attention as discussed in the report but without seriously impacting lithium-ion batteries for at least a decade.  That elimination varies from vehicles that only move in daylight to buses and cars powered by supercapacitors, some of which are non-toxicant.

The new IDTechEx report, “Toxicant Materials and Alternatives in Electronics/ Electrics 2018-2028” even has a timeline of planned introduction of “poisons of concern” into everyday life over the next ten years. However, there is a note of optimism as it observes the huge effort to develop lead free perovskite photovoltaics and some other alternatives for these worrisome poisons. Priorities are recommended and a large number of alternative non-toxicant devices in research or on sale are identified. The views of those in the value chain are reported and assessed.

Many alternatives to poisons in electronics and electrical engineering will also be presented at the “IDTechEx Show!” in Berlin April 11-12 with over 2000 paying delegates, 220 exhibitors – many offering or researching non-toxicant alternatives. There are 250 presentations in 9 conferences and on April 10 and 13, 30 masterclasses.  Fraunhofer and other research institutes will present development programs on other non-toxicant materials and devices.

IDTechEx – Energy independent vehicles key to solving grid problems

August 01, 2017


IDTechEx – Energy independent vehicles key to solving grid problems



The UK National Grid has announced that peak impact of electric cars in the UK will be equivalent to capacity of 6 nuclear plants. According to National Grid’s “Future Energy Scenarios” report published 13 July 2017, smart charging could substantially decrease the pressure on the system at peak times, reducing additional demand from electric vehicles to 3.5GW by 2030 from a potential scenario of 8GW of additional demand without the technology.



18 gigawatts of extra demand for electricity — the equivalent of the capacity of nearly six Hinkley Point nuclear power stations — is projected at peak times by 2050. However, this ignores the many ways in which the real world implementation will be very different.

Dr Peter Harrop, lead author of the IDTechEx Research report, Energy Independent Electric Vehicles Land, Water, Air 2017-2037 advises, “Well before 2050, energy independent vehicles being developed by Toyota, Tesla and others will bypass national grids altogether and sell in large numbers. Hanergy and Sono Motors even promise mainstream solar-only cars by 2020 and even if they fail, others are on the job, some with particularly power rich designs employing wind energy as well when the vehicle is parked. Earlier than that, roadside solar charging stations are catching on as they improve efficiency, modularity, affordability and ability to incorporate wind power. That means entirely or mainly off-grid supply: you can even see them in Malta. Another offsetting factor is the immediate availability of smart charging recognised by National Grid that would power up car batteries at times when electricity networks can cope. Rapidly increasing range of electric vehicles creates much more freedom concerning when and where to charge, including from off-grid energy-independent houses. Six nuclear plants? It is just not going to happen. It is even arguable that no extra grid supply will be required”.

National Grid analysed the potential impact on demand at busy times of the day, such as after working hours, if forecasts for rapid growth in electric vehicles by 2050 are realised. The UK Government has said it plans all electric by 2050, which is a politician’s way of kicking an issue into the long grass: several other countries pitch 2030 or 2040. The National Grid study follows several developments that suggest the growth in electric vehicles might accelerate dramatically over the coming decades. Analysts IDTechEx agree with a tipping point approaching, not least as up front vehicle price parity occurs. Harrop thinks it is fair that the National Grid presumes that electric vehicle sales could account for more than 90% of all cars in the UK by 2050, with one million on Britain’s roads by the early 2020s and as many as nine million by 2030.

Industry experts and operators of local electricity networks, to which the majority of vehicle chargers will be connected, have warned that to avoid costly upgrades to grid infrastructure, drivers will have to become used to the idea they may not always be able to power up their cars immediately. However, only analyst IDTechEx factors energy independent vehicles into its forecasts.

IDTechEx is staging the world’s first conference and exhibition on “Energy Independent Electric Vehicles” 27-28 September at the Technical University of Delft, Netherlands. This event will embrace the commercial opportunity and technology roadmap of the vehicles by land water and air and their enabling technologies. It is staged by analyst IDTechEx which has the only comprehensive reports and consultancy on EIVs and their technologies such as structural electronics, triboelectric and 6D motion energy harvesting and extreme lightweighting. The overview report is Energy Independent Electric Vehicles Land, Water, Air 2017-2037.


About IDTechEx

IDTechEx guides your strategic business decisions through its Research and Events services, helping you profit from emerging technologies. We provide independent research, business intelligence and advice to companies across the value chain based on research activities and methodologies which provide data sought by business leaders, strategists and technology scouts to aid their critical business decisions. To discuss your needs please contact us at research@IDTechEx.com or see www.IDTechEx.com.

Volvo Cars drops ICE only based cars by 2019. How radical is this?

July 10, 2017


Volvo Cars drops ICE only based cars by 2019. How radical is this?



By Franco Gonzalez, Senior Technology Analyst and Dr Lorenzo Grande, Technology Analyst, IDTechEx




Volvo Cars has been in the news recently in relation to their announcement this Wednesday on their decision to leave the internal combustion engine only based automotive industry.

The Chinese-European company announced that from 2019 all their vehicles will be either pure electric or hybrid electric. In this way it has been argued the company is making a bold move towards electrification of vehicles.


Volvo to capture potential market in China

The company will launch a pure electric car in 2019 and that is a great move indeed, considering that the company has been owned by Chinese vehicle manufacturer Geely since 2010. The Chinese electric vehicle market has been booming in the last years reaching a sales level of 350,000 plug-in EVs (pure electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars) in 2016. The Chinese plug-in EV market grew 300% from 2014 to 2015 but cooled down to 69% growth in 2016 vs 2015, still pushing a triple digit growth in pure electric cars. The Chinese government has announced that in 2017 sales will reach 800,000 NEV (new energy vehicles including passenger and bus, both pure electric and hybrid electric).

IDTechEx believes that China will not make it to that level, but will definitely push the figures close to that mark. We think that the global plug-in electric vehicle market will surpass 1 million sales per year for the first time at the end of 2017.

Until recently this market has been mostly dominated by Chinese manufacturers, being BYD the best seller of electric cars in the country with 100,000 plug-in EVs sold in 2016. Tesla polemically could not penetrate the market but in 2016 sold around 11,000 units.

Whilst the owner of Volvo Cars, Geely, is active in China selling around 17,000 pure electric cars per year, it might be that Volvo has now realized that they can leverage on their brand in the Chinese premium market to catch the huge growth opportunity in China and need to participate as soon as possible.

More information on market forecasts can be found in IDTechEx Research’s report Electric Vehicles 2017-2037: Forecasts, Analysis and Opportunities.


Is Volvo Cars’ move a revolutionary one?

Not really, as technically speaking the company is not entirely making a bold movement to only 100% “strong” hybrid electric and pure electric vehicles.

This is because the company will launch in 2019 a “mild” hybrid electric vehicles, this is also known in the industry as 48V hybrid electric platform. This is a stepping stone between traditional internal combustion engine companies and “strong” hybrid electric vehicles such as the Toyota Prius.

The 48V platform is being adopted by many automotive manufacturers, not only Volvo. OEMs like Continental developed this platform to provide a “bridge technology” towards full EVs for automotive manufacturers, providing 6 to 20 kW electric assistance. By comparison, a full hybrid system typically offers 20-40-kW and a plug-in hybrid, 50-90 kW.

Volvo had already launched the first diesel plug-in hybrid in 2012 and the company will launch a new plug-in hybrid platform in 2018 in addition to the launch of the 2019 pure electric vehicle platform.

Going only pure electric and plug-in hybrid electric would be really revolutionary.

See IDTechEx Research’s report Mild Hybrid 48V Vehicles 2017-2027 for more information on 48V platforms.


A radical move would be to drop diesel engines

On-road diesel vehicles produce approximately 20% of global anthropogenic emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are key PM and ozone precursors.

Diesel emission pollutions has been confirmed as a major source of premature mortality. A recent study published in Nature by the Environmental Health Analytics LLC and the International Council on Clean Transportation both based in Washington, USA found that whilst regulated NOx emission limits in leading markets have been progressively tightened, current diesel vehicles emit far more NOx under real-world operating conditions than during laboratory certification testing. The authors show that across 11 markets, representing approximately 80% of global diesel vehicle sales, nearly one-third of on-road heavy-duty diesel vehicle emissions and over half of on-road light-duty diesel vehicle emissions are in excess of certification limits.

These emissions were associated with about 38,000 premature deaths globally in 2015.

The authors conclude that more stringent standards are required in order to avoid 174,000 premature deaths globally in 2040.

Diesel cars account for over 50 percent of all new registrations in Europe, making the region by far the world’s biggest diesel market. Volvo Cars, sells 90 percent of its XC 90 off roaders in Europe with diesel engines.

“From today’s perspective, we will not develop any more new generation diesel engines,” said Volvo’s CEO Hakan Samuelsson told German’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview.

Samuelsson declared that Volvo Cars aims to sell 1 million “electrified” cars by 2025, nevertheless he refused to be drawn on when Volvo Cars will sell its last diesel powered vehicle.

Goldman Sachs believes a regulatory crackdown could add 300 euros ($325) per engine to diesel costs that are already some 1,300 euros above their petrol-powered equivalents, as carmakers race to bring real NOx emissions closer to their much lower test-bench scores.


Scandinavia’s vision of a CO2-free economy

Volvo’s decision should also be placed in a wider context regarding the transition to an environmentally sustainable economy. Scandinavia’s paper industry has made great strides towards marketing itself as green and eco-aware in the last decades, so much so that countries like Norway have tripled the amount of standing wood in forests compared to 100 years ago. Energy supply is also an overarching theme, with each one of the four Scandinavian countries producing more than 39% of their electricity with renewables (Finland 39%, Sweden and Denmark 56%, Norway 98%). Finally, strong public incentives have made it possible for electric vehicles to become a mainstream market in Norway, where in 2016, one in four cars sold was a plug-in electric, either pure or hybrid.

It is then of no surprise that the first battery Gigafactory announcement in Europe came from a Swedish company called Northvolt (previously SGF Energy). The Li-ion factory will open in 4 steps, with each one adding 8 GWh of production capacity. This gives a projected final output of 32 GWh, but if higher energy cathodes are developed, 40-50 GWh capacity can be envisioned. A site has not yet been identified, but the choice has been narrowed down to 6-7 locations, all of them in the Scandinavian region. The main reasons to establish a Gigafactory there boil down to the low electricity prices (hydroelectric energy), presence of relevant mining sites, and the presence of local know-how from the pulp & paper industry.

After a long search for a European champion in the EV market, it finally seems that Sweden has accepted to take the lead, and compete with giants like BYD and rising stars like Tesla. This could be the wake-up call for many other European car makers, which have been rather bearish towards EV acceptance despite many bold announcements.

To learn more about IDTechEx’s view on electric vehicles, and our projections up to 2037, please check our master report on the subject www.IDTechEx.com/ev.


About IDTechEx

IDTechEx guides your strategic business decisions through its Research and Events services, helping you profit from emerging technologies. We provide independent research, business intelligence and advice to companies across the value chain based on research activities and methodologies which provide data sought by business leaders, strategists and technology scouts to aid their critical business decisions. To discuss your needs please contact us at research@IDTechEx.com or see www.IDTechEx.com.

IDTechEx Forecasts Electric Motor Systems to Become a $400 Billion Market in 2027

March 22, 2017


IDTechEx Forecasts Electric Motor Systems to Become a $400 Billion Market in 2027


IDTechEx Research finds that the traction motor business will rise to around $400 billion in 2027. The report, Electric Motors for Electric Vehicles 2017-2027, navigates the jargon, the design options and the disagreements. The changing needs and evolving technology are matched to create ten year market forecasts and technology timelines based on recent intensive travel and interviews by expert PhD level analysts.

The report reveals how the rotating electric machine (REM) system is taking a larger share of costs over the years as simpler batteries become cheaper. By contrast, REM systems are variously being asked to grab regenerative energy, eliminate transmission, provide better speed/torque characteristics and even form part of the structure such as tucked into the wheel with brake and controller. In hybrids add take-off. Crucially, in addition to becoming motor-generators, more REMs are being used per vehicle for reasons explained in the report, which has in-wheel forecasts for that form of multi-motor.

Electric Motors for Electric Vehicles 2017-2027 reports that increasingly the choice of REM system benefits the unique selling propositions of the vehicle. Where it eliminates the need for a gearbox it can increase range 15%. Extreme power-to-weight ratio REMs are sought for most vehicles.

The report includes chapters fully explaining the technology and how it fits with all vehicles, making sense of this sometimes confusing industry through infographics, roadmaps and forecasts. Future trends for electric motors and alternative powertrains are thoroughly examined alongside detailed activities of 170 traction motors manufacturers. Primary interviews by IDTechEx experts with key players provide unique insights.

Ten important trends receive particular attention in the report: Multifunction; proliferation; integration; power increase; voltage increase; less metal/more electronics; new technology preferences; changed location; less cooling.

Read more about this report at www.IDTechEx.com/motors.

About IDTechEx

IDTechEx guides your strategic business decisions through its Research and Events services, helping you profit from emerging technologies. We provide independent research, business intelligence and advice to companies across the value chain based on research activities and methodologies which provide data sought by business leaders, strategists and technology scouts to aid their critical business decisions. To discuss your needs please contact us at research@IDTechEx.com or see www.IDTechEx.com.

Alison Lewis
Marketing Manager, Reports
UK: +44-(0)1223-810290

IDTechEx Research Forecasts Electric Vehicles will be a $731 Billion Market in 2027

March 15, 2017

IDTechEx Research Forecasts Electric Vehicles will be a $731 Billion Market in 2027


For 20 years IDTechEx have surveyed the whole electric vehicle scene in land, water and air, hybrid and pure electric. The next 20 years will make all that seem just a taster. The unique IDTechEx Research overview report, Electric Vehicles 2017-2037: Forecasts, Analysis and Opportunities forecasts that electric vehicles will be a $731 billion market in 2027, profoundly changing society by 2037. This report is unique in terms of providing forecasts in numbers and value for 45 types of electric vehicle across land, water and air. We have taken a bottom up approach in assessing each of these 45 vehicle types.

The fact-based number and value ten year forecasts in these 45 categories and the twenty year technology roadmaps are the result of intense travel, global interviews, conference attendance, primary interviews with EV leaders and informed calculation by PhD level IDTechEx analysts who are leading experts in the industry.

A major focus of this unique overview report is the vehicles themselves from personal manned multicopters to e-buses straddling traffic – showing the gaps in the market. This report prioritises commercial success factors and provides detailed statistics to support informed action plans. Unlike some IDTechEx is not uniformly enthusiastic about everything. Indeed certain technologies will to be squeezed out to become merely niche activities and this report looks at where, when and why.

The key enabling technologies for the future, covered in later chapters, are changing radically with multiple reversing motor generators and multiple energy harvesting including multiple electrical recuperation among those coming to the fore.

Electric Vehicles 2017-2037: Forecasts, Analysis and Opportunities takes a fresh, unbiased look at all the vehicle categories and technology options, most of which are subject to disruptive change. For those wanting to drill down into specific aspects the many new IDTechEx reports that do just that are referenced.

Find out more at www.IDTechEx.com/ev. Learn more about IDTechEx here.

IDTechEx provides companies with tools that can assist them in making essential strategic decisions in emerging technologies. IDTechEx offers research reports, subscriptions, consultancy, introductory services and events.

Alison Lewis
Marketing Manager, Reports
UK: +44-(0)1223-810290

The Bus of the Future, Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx

November 09, 2016

The Bus of the Future
By Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx



Buses are very important. Injuries and deaths from two wheelers have not reduced very much in decades whereas vehicles with four wheels or more have seen huge improvements. Nevertheless, because 70% of us will soon live in cities with that figure rising to 80% in 2050, car sales will peak as they are increasingly discouraged then banned from cities because of the congestion and parking space they need. Peak car will be 2030 according to IDTechEx Research, earlier in the view of Barclays Research which cites how the millennials and increasingly others prefer mobility on demand. That includes rental of a car from the roadside by people who do not see it as a status symbol and those wanting to tap their phone all the time hop on a bus. Add to that people who cannot or will not take a driving test and autonomous taxis, often a form of autonomous car, become very attractive and certain to be encouraged in cities. 20 cars used 3% of the time can be replaced by one autonomous taxi used 60% of the time that trundles outside the city when not in use, a vision prompting a recent children’s book, “Where Do Cars Go At Night?”. See the upcoming IDTechEx Research report, Electric Car Technology and Forecasts 2017-2027.


Buses will be key

The future bus, subway and train are even more important than those autonomous taxis. China has found that the 140 million people going to work on electric bikes and scooters cause a lot of accidents, congestion and lead pollution as some irresponsibly dispose of the batteries that need changing every year. It is strongly backing pure electric buses to the extent that the largest value market for large lithium-ion batteries last year was buses not cars. See the IDTechEx reports, Lithium-ion Batteries 2016-2026 and Lithium-ion Batteries for Electric Buses 2016-2026. A large bus uses one seventh of the energy and one tenth of the space of a car per passenger kilometer. IDTechEx Research calculates that 2.3 million electric buses will be made in 2027, about five times those made in 2016 but taking many very new forms as they are reinvented.


Autonomous and multi-purpose

The driverless autonomous bus will be popular, with no user push back because we readily happily climb into driverless trains at airports already – even driverless pods at Heathrow Airport London where that technology is now being upgraded to create free-running autonomous buses. The robot bus and taxi may merge sometimes by running a route at full occupancy to help regular buses at peak times then reverting to on-demand taxi service. See the IDTechEx Research report, Autonomous Vehicles Land, Water and Air 2017-2037.


New components, straddling bus technology

Small batteries may suffice with intermittent catenary charging like that being trialled in three countries for long distance trucks today. Certainly pure electric will win not the less efficient, less reliable fuel cells even if they eventually get green hydrogen and capture some niches.

Double decker and straddling buses will be popular to cope efficiently with all those new passengers and they will have more spare space due structural electronics rather than the old components-in-a-box approach to powertrains. Think in-wheel motors (BYD already has near wheel, eliminating a big axle. Nicola plans six in-wheel motors for large trucks) and composite bodywork that makes and stores electricity (Proterra already has composite bodywork and the next Chinese straddling buses will carry 1000 and get maybe 20kW for a huge solar roof). The bloodletting from buses crashing over potholes from London to Calcutta will cease with Levant Power active suspension elegantly making its own electricity from 12kW or more of energy harvesting shock absorbers.


Energy independent buses

Feather light, conformal, highest-efficiency photovoltaics will be all over the bus and even expand outwards and across windows when the bus is not in use making an increasing number of buses into Energy Independent Vehicles EIV, pure electric and never plugging in. Fantasy? Not at all. You can already buy an eight seater EIV and bus from Nanowinn Technologies in China with advanced CIGS photovoltaics and super-efficient powertrain, large buses in Uganda get a high proportion of their electricity from the searing sun hitting their solar roofing. Indeed, Hanergy in China has just demonstrated EIV cars using the most efficient lightweight solar of all – gallium arsenide film it makes itself. Hanergy says they will be on sale in 2020 and generate over 1kW per car, plenty to charge the battery even for night time use in urban duty. The cost has to drop from $1 million per car but the Chinese are good at that. Meanwhile IFEVS in Italy has made a solar pizza van that can go anywhere and even cook using electricity from its roof and lifting solar sides and a large telescopic wind turbine that erects when it is stationary, following others having little erecting turbines on cars. See the IDTechEx Research reports, Energy Independent Vehicles 2016-2026 and Energy Independent Electric Vehicle Technology Roadmap 2016-2036.


Reinventing bus layout

Tesla plans something driverless like a bus they say. Perhaps the sides, front and back will lift to get passengers onto seats faster from all directions because Tesla seems to imply it would have no aisle. There is much more happening.


Structural electronics

The IDTechEx report on e-Textiles is proving popular as Toyota and others develop structural electronics inside the vehicle such as voided 3D printed seats grown with their sensors, heaters and coolers and covered in smart fabric. Hanergy has GaAs solar on the dashboard to power internal hotel facilities and TactoTek is seeing its smart plastic lighting, electronics and actuators combined replacing the load-bearing, impact-resistant dashboard and overhead clusters.


Lizard buses

You can buy the Nanowinn bus without a battery so it is not only much more affordable, it wakes up with minimal daylight and still goes faster than walking pace because it is more lightweight. Of course, it will need maintenance much less often and it will last much longer.



There will be losers of course. The heavy ladder type of chassis will go. Businesses in hybrid and conventional buses, steel, oil, charging stations, lead acid batteries, brushed motors, silicon power components, internal combustion engines, hybrid and conventional powertrains and allied activities such as most maintenance and parts businesses will become losers, many within the decade. Bus drivers will be needed less often.



Winners will include those in energy harvesting and regeneration, silicon carbide and gallium nitride power components, affordable long life high efficiency, high power density motors, in-wheel motors, merged systems, fast chargers, inductive chargers, structural electronics, tires that generate electricity if they prove viable, range extenders for a while, advanced supercapacitors and their derivatives, non-flammable, high energy density batteries, the connected vehicle, specialty autonomy hardware and autonomy software and services. See IDTechEx Research reports on power electronics, future powertrains, range extenders, advanced and post lithium batteries, electric motors and so on.


China resurgent

China will win by making commoditised electronic and electrical bus hardware and buses costing one third to one half of the cost of those abroad due to its automation, innovation and volume in the protected Chinese market that is at least four times that of the rest of the world put together, amplified by a mandatory shorter bus replacement time and the Chinese plan to grow and electrify the school bus fleet possibly to hit the 10 million mark. China will be able to flood the world with low cost buses just as it has done with electronic wristwatches and much else besides. All over the world, they are setting up final assembly operations and, where necessary, more to claim local manufacture for pure electric buses.


World’s largest event on these technologies

The world’s most comprehensive event on these technologies is the 3000+ delegate 200+ exhibitor IDTechEx Show! with eight parallel conferences and a show floor conference on 16-17 November in Santa Clara, California. Add 23 masterclasses on the days before and after the event, large Japanese and Korean delegate dinners and more. It embraces everything from future powertrains, solar vehicles, energy harvesting and storage, structural and printed electronics, Internet of Things, graphene and 3D printing to specifically Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing. Selected start-ups, mostly EV related, exhibit free. There are many prestigious prizes for excellence. Speakers include Proterra and BYD on their electric buses, Google, Toyota, NASA, Ford, Nissan, Porsche, Volkswagen, Panasonic, Siemens, Komatsu, Murata, GE, Intel, HP, Samsung, Sharp and the world’s largest smart materials companies from Sabic to DuPont, for this is a truly global event. Organisers IDTechEx have also carefully selected a host of start-ups from across the world with game changing inventions to make first announcements, for this is Silicon Valley.



About IDTechEx

IDTechEx guides your strategic business decisions through its Research and Events services, helping you profit from emerging technologies. We provide independent research, business intelligence and advice to companies across the value chain based on our core research activities and methodologies providing data sought by business leaders, strategists and emerging technology scouts to aid their business decisions.

Learn more at www.IDTechEx.com and to discuss your needs please contact us on research@IDTechEx.com.