Overweight EVs on a diet

The Jedlix App September 17, 2020, Tech Operations

Are electric vehicles joining us in our quarantine diets? Say bye to EV-fat shamers!

The number of people on a specific diet in order to lose weight or to be healthier is on the rise. According to several Food & Health surveys about 30 % of all people go on a diet each year and billions are spent on specific weight loss products and programs. Diets, weight loss? You might wonder why somebody at Jedlix is writing about this, as a company specializing in software for electric vehicles. Well, electric vehicles are also considered to be overweight and we quite often see the “fat-shaming” of EVs that have success in the marketplace. Weight is basically one of the last remaining points of criticism. Time to take a closer look whether this fat-shaming is really necessary and what is going on here.

 

Why does this matter?

At Jedlix it is our mission to drive renewables forward and contribute to sustainable mobility. Through our platform and services, we lower the costs of charging and support the integration of renewables. The emissions of driving an EV are unparalleled when the charging is matched with renewable energy. Our product and platform, however, start after the electric vehicle is produced and starts consuming electricity. Much of the environmental footprint of an EV is in the production of the vehicle and more specifically the battery. Luckily, Many OEMs put their vehicle on a diet with great success. Instead of fasting or special low carb food, the billions are spent on material science.

 

Evolution in the weight of an EV

Current electric models tend to be heavier compared to ICE alternatives. EVs have fewer parts and a much smaller motor; however, the battery is the culprit when looking at the weight equation. For the weight of the battery, we care mostly about energy density. How much energy (kWh) can the battery store for a certain amount of weight (kg). This unit holds the key in the EV revolution and has doubled, even tripled over the last ten years. To give you a bit of an idea we took the battery weight numbers of the Renault Zoe to give you a practical impression here:

 

Model   Energy Capacity

Battery (kWh) 

Battery 

Weight (kg) 

Energy Density 

(kWh/kg) 

Zoe gen1 (2012)  26  290  0,089 
Zoe gen 2 (2016)  45  305  0,147 
Zoe gen 3 (2019)  55  326  0,169 

As you can see, the battery has grown drastically while the weight has almost remained the same. We took the Zoe numbers, as this is an early day champion in the mass market. You most certainly will find similar numbers for other early day champs like the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf that also had evolutions in battery size.

 

What does this mean?

After years of development, we have gotten to the point where most EVs are easily able to drive up to 300 – 400 kilometers or even more. This number will most certainly further increase, in particular for the high-end market. At the same time, the energy density of the battery is further improving, and a new generation of battery chemistries is waiting to be applied at mass. This brings us even closer to the moment that an EV will actually beat an ICE vehicle on weight! A guesstimate would be that a figure of about 0,2 – 0,22 kWh/kg should get us to this point for a 45 – 50 kWh vehicle. This is expected to be somewhere around 2024/25, and how cool is that! We would not only be at a tipping point on costs and lifetime emissions but also even on absolute weight! 

 

What to look out for?

Lighter batteries won’t magically happen overnight. They rely on new battery technologies that can be practically applied to the next generation of EVs at scale. Announcements on battery breakthroughs can be found almost every week. Announcements are cool, but it is all about applying these technologies. It’s hard to guess what technology will win in the end and when, for example, solid state batteries will arrive on the market place. However, we are 100 % sure all these developments will push energy density furtherLess weight means less material means a lower environmental impact. Also, do check out Tesla’s battery day that is planned for next weekRumours have it that new technology will be presented that will provide another major leap in energy density. Hopefully, this technology can be applied in their vehicles soon! So buckle up, and prepare for some fat shaming of ICE vehicles in the future!  

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