Battery Monitor 2022: Battery usage

Battery Monitor 2022: Battery usage

May 17, 2023

Charging – together with battery technology – is the front in electric vehicle battery innovation

Electric vehicles represent the single biggest battery market, and are a major innovation driver. However, energy densities are reaching its limits with conventional lithium-ion battery design and can be considered nearly sufficient on cell level. To tackle range anxiety however, charging capabilities on cell, vehicle and infrastructure level are stepping into the spotlight. In this article, the fourth in a series covering the chapters in the Battery Monitor 2022 report, developed by the Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components (PEM) unit of RWTH Aachen University and Roland Berger, we look at how external factors are influencing sustainability and competitiveness.

Electric car charging socket
Unleashing the power: Electric vehicles revolutionizing battery technology and sustainability

As one of the principle users of Li-ion batteries, electric vehicles (EVs) represent the key market for battery players. They are also one of the main drivers for improvements in battery sustainability and technologies. Battery usage and EVs are therefore strongly intertwined.

In this article, based on the Battery Usage chapter of the Battery Monitor 2022 report, we look at the factors that influence EV and battery sustainability, and why the focus in electric mobility is now additionally on charging and efficiency savings. We also outline the latest developments in these non-battery-related technologies, such as battery swapping. As in all chapters of the report, the article is based around the four key performance indicators of sustainability, technology performance, competitiveness and innovation power/strength.

"The markets offering the best charging performance will become leaders for batteries and EVs."
Portrait of Wolfgang Bernhart
Senior Partner
Stuttgart Office, Central Europe

Sustainability: The energy transition is helping to increase the sustainability of batteries and EVs

The UN’s Paris Agreement of 2015, in which countries agreed to limit global warming to well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, triggered a rush of ambitious climate targets. The European Union’s 2022 RePowerEU plan, for example, aims for member states to achieve a 45% renewable energies share by 2030, while China is forcing companies to buy at least 40% of their power from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

A country’s electricity mix is a major factor in the sustainability of its EV fleet. An increased share of renewables means a lower carbon footprint of electricity, lowering the per kilometer CO2 emissions of an EV. As countries transition to renewable energy sources, EVs will emit less and less CO2 over their lifetimes. For example, Norway, where all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles made up around 96% of new car registrations in H2/2021, also has a very high share of non-fossil fuel power generation, making its EV fleet is one of the most sustainable in the world.

Technology performance: Charging equals energy density in importance for EVs

For a long time, EV range was considered the most important factor in EV battery manufacturing. Indeed, energy density capabilities more than doubled between 2013 and 2018, from around 80 watthours per kilogram to 166 Wh/kg. But now densities are believed to have reached a sufficient level on cell level, which can be further improved on system level, resulting in turning attention towards fast charging capabilities and infrastructure. These are as important as pack size because “range anxiety” will ease if drivers have access to sufficient charging infrastructure.

While new 800V EV architecture is one of many enablers for ultra-fast charging rates of up to 350kW in some vehicles, it’s likely that DC charging stations availability will be the key to widespread ultra-fast charging. Cheap-to-install AC stations still dominate charging networks, but ultra-fast DC chargers offer significantly higher power ratings, usually a minimum of 100kW. Their rollout is gathering pace – in China, they now made up 41% of charging stations in 2021.

Competitiveness: Markets offering the best charging performance will be the most competitive

The competitiveness of an EV battery in the usage phase is largely predetermined by its components and quality. But competitiveness also needs to consider the supporting network. The Roland Berger EV Charging Index is a great indicator of the status of both in key markets around the world. The second edition, published in May 2022, revealed significant growth in EV markets. For example, global EV sales increased by 55% compared to the first edition, and in the same period, the total number of available charging stations grew by 58%.

The Index identified four charging market categories: Champion; NextGen; Emerging; and Early. The Champion cluster comprised seven countries, with China and the USA leading the way. Their key attributes are a high maturity of EV adoption and advanced charging infrastructure. For example, China has 2.6 million charging points in total (1.1 million of them public), while India, a typical NextGen market, has only 20,000.

Innovation power: Battery swapping is emerging as one of the leading innovations in charging

Due to its increasing importance to the EV market, the battery charging industry is awash with new developments. Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies, for example, enable EVs to charge other devices and storage units, as well as sell power back to the grid. Both are seen as enablers of the energy transition. But here we look at a relatively new and growing sector in EV charging – the battery swapping market.

The technology, in which an EV drives into a swapping station and autonomously has its entire battery replaced with a fully charged one, has several advantages. For example, replacement times are about the same length as conventional refueling times. China developed the current technology and is leading the way in its rollout. The carmaker NIO is particularly advanced, with swapping stations across Asia. A key takeaway for traditional OEMs is to ensure they remain competitive in fast-charging technology as battery swapping is emerging as a strong rival.

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Register now to download the full BATTERY MONITOR 2022 - the value chain in the field of tension between economy and ecology - including key insights and latest developments regarding the current market situation for players in the battery industry. Additionally, you get regular insights into electronics topics.

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