Electric car: manufacturers seek to offer more and more autonomy

Electric car: manufacturers seek to offer more and more autonomy

Improving the autonomy of electric vehicles is one of the priorities of all manufacturers. A challenge to both commercial and industrial leadership in a 100% zero emissions Europe by 2035.

600 kilometers, “even some [voitures, ndlr] beyond 700 kilometers of autonomy”. This is the promise of Carlos Tavares regarding the next generation of electric cars signed Stellantis that will hit the roads in 2 or 3 years. Some already see further, such as the German Mercedes with the EQS or the American Lucid Motors, which both provide close to 800 kilometers of autonomy.

This race for autonomy now seems more than necessary -from the point of view of the manufacturers- while the European Union has just definitively registered the transition to 100% zero emissions for new cars in 2035.

to solid battery

In compact and family models, the psychological barrier of 400 to 500 kilometers – enough to make a Paris-Lyon (about 450 kilometers) without recharging – now seems to have been reached with current lithium-ion battery technology. But then? How and with what technology can we go further when most manufacturers are investing in building gigafactories and securing the supply of rare metals? Because behind these billions of euros there are also questions of leadership on the next generations of batteries that the Europeans, in particular, would like to win.

“The battle for industry leadership in conventional lithium-ion is clearly lost,” explains Guillaume Crunelle, a partner specializing in automobiles at Deloitte. and investing in the technologies of tomorrow. However, we may have to wait until the end of the decade to see appear at an industrial level.

ProLogium clearly doesn’t want to wait until 2030. In mid-October at the Paris Motor Show, this Taiwanese group founded by a former Foxconn employee confirmed that it wanted to launch in 2024 with a solid battery, in one of the models. from the new Vietnamese manufacturer VinFast (Mercedes-Benz is also part of the first round).

Very fine cells, higher density thanks to a different chemistry, Prologium promises to reach 1000 kilometers of autonomy with its technology on a vehicle equivalent to a Tesla Model 3 (today 600 kilometers). The Taiwanese are also advancing more secure technology, which therefore requires less reinforcement around packages. Or less weight and more freedom to design the vehicle.

a complex technology

ProLogium intends to announce in mid-2023 whether it chooses to establish its first European gigafactory in Hauts-de-France, not far from those of ACC (Stellantis-Mercedes-Total), Envision (Renault-Nissan), and Verkor (Renault). The French startup is also working on sequels, but with a different approach. “There’s no real technological leap expected, it’s more of a gradual evolution, we’re told at Verkor. We’re really in a gradual evolution, we’re not in Moore’s law of semiconductors. Solid-state batteries are a tough chemistry to master.” “.

Solid-state batteries must be heated to remain efficient. “Remember the Autolibs, that was more than 10 years ago, they had to be plugged in permanently for them to work,” slides another expert in the sector. The issue of fast charging also seems more difficult to manage with this technology.

Improve the lithium ion battery and its environment.

Therefore, the major manufacturers agree on an evolution of lithium-ion batteries. “There are many intermediates before the solid state, we continue at Verkor. The improvement of lithium ion chemistry in particular, with other materials, other binders, other solvents, with more manganese, with improved graphites for fast charging. All this It will allow us to make the link with the solid state that will come a little later.”

The management of the Battery Management System (BMS) is also part of the development areas to improve its efficiency, such as better preparing them to receive the load.

“The real breakthrough towards the battery of tomorrow will be when a battery allows rapid recharging while offering a high density, therefore more autonomy”, summarizes Guillaume Crunelle.

“Until there is a technology that solves this equation, there will not really be a leap in battery technology,” he continues, however.

Make profitable industrial investments in progress
A mine soon to be exploited in Allier, three gigafactory projects in Hauts-de-France. A lithium-ion battery industry is springing up on French soil. This technology has become widespread in all major brands, from Renault to Peugeot through Mercedes. Amortizing these large investments is a necessity for these brands, before thinking about building new gigafactories. Because tools differ based on each battery’s chemistry, it’s impossible at the moment, we’re told, to consider switching to another battery formula.

Pauline Ducamp, with Julien Bonnet

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