There’s no question that electric cars are here to stay. However, predicting when they’ll dominate the auto industry is a loaded question. Automobile manufacturers are racing amongst each other, trying to develop the necessary aspects of electric vehicles. This high tech evolution is forever changing, as well as challenging how vehicles will be manufactured in the future. How they do this is directly proportional to when they begin dominating the auto industry.
According to the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research, the number one top selling electric vehicle in the world right now is the Nissan Leaf. Its batteries have proven to be very reliable. The number two top selling EV is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. However, it hasn’t even been made available in the United States yet. Third on the list is the Tesla Model S.
The Center also states that more than 740,000 electric cars are on the road worldwide this year and that at least two dozen additional models are slated to enter the economy in the next couple of years. This includes Mercedes, who will offer 10 varieties of plug-in cars, and BMW, whom also has plans to release multiple models. This indicates an 80% increase in electric vehicles. However, its still less than 1% of the global auto market.
Photo Credits: Center For Solar Energy & Hydrogen Research
If global EV sales remain on track, they’ll reach the anticipated 1% of all vehicle sales in 2016. This is a long way from market domination. Significant improvements and hurdles need to be resolved before electric cars dominate the auto industry.
Improvements Needed For Electric Cars
Battery Technology: The development of the lithium-ion battery has made much improvement since its introduction. Compared to when it first entered the market in approximately 1991, today the battery holds 2 1/2 times the energy it did originally and costs way less. However in order to truly surpass combustion engine batteries, it still has a long way to go.
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There’s also a lithium-air battery in development. It uses ambient air to enhance energy flow which is supposed to sustain the life of the battery much longer than the lithium-ion battery. However, not enough research and testing has been done to date to determine the success of this one. Experts believe that the most the lithium-ion battery can attain is 400 watt-hours/gram. Currently it’s at 250. When this happens, the market may shift toward looking at different battery sources in order to increase energy density.
Since it’s uncertain which battery will prove to be the most efficient, it’s expected that many improvements on the EV battery will take place within the next decade. These developments will greatly determine how quickly the electric car begins to dominate the auto industry.
Lighter Weight EVs: Automobile manufacturers are also trying to improve energy density in batteries by finding ways to make cars lighter with the use of new materials and techniques. Materials being looked at are aluminum and carbon fiber. However, much more research and development is needed.
Cars, particularly EVs, are trending toward being made extremely small. This is mainly due to the effort to increase efficiency. Experts predict this trend will continue, but that there will plenty of mid-sized EVs to enter the market as well.
Driverless Automation: Driverless cars are also crashing the automotive scene and bringing with them a hurdle of legal and technical issues. Tesla, while leading the industry in this field, actually has a model that is autonomous, but until legal obstacles dissipate, it’s limited to highway driving only. In addition, competing automobile manufacturers are racing to surpass Tesla’s developments. It’s probably likely that driverless cars will infiltrate the auto market by 2020 or perhaps sooner.
This causes hurdles not only in legal issues, but in the ability to infuse the development and demand for both types of vehicles: The EV and driverless capabilities.
The Best Answer
Clearly, the results of continued research and development of the aforementioned aspects are the determining factors that will catapult the EV into market domination. All three of these aspects predict considerable improvements within the next ten years. The best answer is that within the next decade, the electric car will be much closer to market domination.
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