Material Technologies Shaping the Future of Electric Vehicles

Material Development Aimed at Design Simplification, Lightweighting and Ensuring Driver Safety While Battery Development is Focused on Improving Energy Density, Lifetime,and Recyclability
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Published: 7 May 2018

According to the United States Environment Protection Agency, ~26% of global green house gas emissions are from the transportation sector, which includes emissions from cars, trucks, ships, trains, and airplanes. Apparently, passengers cars and light-duty trucks or light commercial vehicles (LCVs) are the largest source of transportation-related emissions and account for ~15- 20% of total greenhouse emissions. With the Paris Climate Agreement creating a sense of competitive spirit among countries to annually push their carbon dioxide (CO2) emission targets, the automotive industry has been caught up in the hustle to be the catalyst that will drive governments to achieve emission targets. As a consequence, automotive OEMs and car manufacturers are on a quest to become less accountable for climate change and to increase brand equity by becoming evangelists for a sustainable carbon-free world. The automotive industry has concentrated its efforts to make alternative powertrain technologies economical and practically competent with internal combustion engines. Even as big brands invest huge money on alternative powertrains such as full battery electric, hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell electric and plug-in hybrids, one key factor that impacts the efficiency of all these power trains is lightweighting. For every part or component that goes into a vehicle, there is a prospect to reduce weight by replacing traditionally used materials with new lightweight alternatives. This research service titled “Material Technologies Shaping the Future of Electric Vehicles,” discusses the current state of electric vehicle (EV) adoption by giving a snapshot of the global and regional penetration in 2017. A three-dimensional view is outlined to identify the factors that will influence the future growth in adoption of electric vehicles. In specific, the technology influencers are divided into two namely lightweight design and battery performance. From a material science perspective, key areas where materials can contribute to uptake of EVs are identified: Materials for direct lightweighting Materials re-defining battery performance contributing to indirect lightweighting A list of key innovators and inventions that could transform the EV landscape is provided along with patent filing trends to give a perspective of solutions and opportunities that are evolving in the automotive industry.

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