How the Electric Car is Maturing into a Fully Usable Vehicle

February 21, 2018 // The "Hybrid and Electric Vehicles" conference begins today in the City Hall. Experts from science and industry look at the future of e-mobility.

Braunschweig. Electromobility continues to make only slow progress. The fall 2017 was the first time that more than 2% of new vehicles had an electric drive. The "Hybrid and Electric Vehicles" conference which begins today in the City Hall will be looking at how to help e-vehicles achieve a real breakthrough. The two-day symposium will be dealing with various aspects of hybrid and electric drives in passenger cars and commercial vehicles. The good news: as far as vehicle technology is concerned, the e-mobile is ready for widespread use. Lectures and a panel discussion will address the remaining challenges, such as the lack of a infrastructure for recharging electric vehicles.

The speakers include experts from science and industry who will view the future of electromobility from many different perspectives, including organizational and financial issues as well as technical aspects. They include representatives from OEMs such as Volkswagen, Audi, BMW and Daimler as well as suppliers and universities from throughout the whole of Germany.

This morning, the symposium begins by giving the 180 participants a look at the next generation of vehicle batteries. "Batteries are meanwhile offering ever higher energy ratings with cruising ranges that will let the electric car mature into a fully viable vehicle over the next few years", predicts Professor Dr. Markus Henke from the NFF (Automotive Research Centre Niedersachsen) at Braunschweig University of Technology. The NFF is assisting the ITS mobility network with the conference.

Generally speaking, cruising range still remains a specific issue for e-mobility. Professor Dr. Burghard Voß from the principal conference sponsor IAV GmbH points out that the high costs involved in producing batteries and their frequently criticized ecological footprint definitely make them a "limiting factor in electric vehicles". For now anyway. After all, recent years have seen a certain amount of progress in terms of production costs.

A suitable answer to limited cruising range seems to be quite apparent: an adequate recharging infrastructure for electric vehicles has to be established in the private and public domain. A panel discussion this afternoon will show the approaches being pursued here with an indication of how responsibilities are being shared out. Professor Voß also recommends looking at the issue of charging concepts from the point of view of the user: electric vehicles will start appealing to drivers as soon as they are reasonably priced and are easy to handle on an everyday basis. Standards need to be implemented not just for connection systems and voltage levels at the charging stations but also when it comes to payment transactions. "Local authorities in particular have to step up to the mark here, given the challenge facing large cities to find solutions for the emission problem", says Professor Voß.

The time factor is another crucial aspect for users. Once they have found a free charging station, it is always going to take longer to recharge the vehicle than to fill the tank with fuel. "It is important for most users to have recharged their vehicles at home so that only genuine long-distance drivers are actively in need of rapid charging stations", explains Professor Henke. Accordingly, recharging facilities need to be set up wherever vehicles are parked for a longer period of time. In cities where people do not have their own parking space, thought has to be given to recharging pools or recharging in car parks.

There is still plenty to do before the electric car becomes a fully viable option. And as ever with new technologies, someone needs to be the pioneer to make a start. The morning will be taken up with a presentation of the “lautlos&einsatzbereit” (silent & ready) project featuring electric mobiles in the police fleet. Tomorrow there will be three lectures on the electrification of commercial vehicles. Professor Henke explains why commercial vehicle fleets could actually lead to the first real breakthroughs for e-mobility. "Commercial vehicles often have predictable driving profiles. Small commercial vehicles, for example, make urban deliveries on a daily basis using very similar routes with limited journey distances" – ideal conditions for e-mobility, particularly with the scope for regularly recharging the vehicles. By contrast, Professor Voß cannot see electrified commercial vehicles being used in long-haulage transport for the foreseeable future. Battery capacities are simply inadequate and the costs for haulage companies are prohibitive. "The showcase scenarios presented by a number of vehicle manufacturers should therefore be seen merely as visions, rather than planning concepts for realistic implementation", says Professor Voß.

Today's lectures indicate that in technical terms at least, electric vehicles are well on the way to becoming real competition for the internal combustion engine. This evening, conference participants will have an opportunity to see for themselves how fit for practical use recent research and development work has become, with the opportunity to test drive the latest hybrid and electric vehicles at the driving event hosted by IAV in Gifhorn.

This is the 15th time that the "Hybrid and Electric Vehicles" conference has been organized by ITS Mobility, the network for intelligent mobility in North Germany. The cluster based in Braunschweig has more than 200 members, including major industrial corporations, research institutions, SMEs, associations and experts. "Our aim is to discuss key mobility issues with experts from science and industry. This is the only way to achieve an all-encompassing view and appraisal of current trends", explains Florian Rehr, Managing Director of ITS mobility. 


Science and industry together consider the future of e-mobility at the Symposium Hybrid and Electric Vehicles: Roland Matthé (Opel Automobile GmbH), Prof. Dr. Burghard Voß (IAV GmbH), Prof. Dr. Markus Henke (Automotive Research Centre Niedersachsen, Braunschweig University of Technology) und Florian Rehr (ITS mobility network). Photo: Bierwagen

Image source: © fotodesign-bierwagen