• Feb 18, 2011
2011 Nissan Leaf - Click above for high-res image gallery

UK-based Trend Tracker Ltd. (TT) conducted a study of the potential global market for electric vehicles and concluded that cumulative sales of battery-powered autos (vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV) could feasibly hit 30 million units – approximately 1.5 percent of the projected worldwide automotive market – by 2050.

Trend Tracker's report – "Electric Vehicles: Energy, infrastructure and the mobility market in the real world" – notes that lead-in times for advanced powertrain technologies is at least 20 years, supported by the relatively slow adoption of hybrid vehicles. However, TT's study claims that electrifying the automotive industry may be hastened by dwindling oil reserves, rising gas prices and extensive government incentives. Unfortunately, even if 30 million battery-powered autos take to the roads by 2050, the vast majority of vehicles will still rely upon fossil fuels for motivation.

TT's extensive 242-page report (PDF) evaluates key aspects of the battery-powered vehicle industry, including; battery technology, charging infrastructure, government policies, strategic issues for electric mobility providers and profiles of electric vehicle and battery manufacturers.



Photos copyright ©2010 Damon Lavrinc / AOL

[Source: Trend Tracker (PDF)]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      I certainly would not support the authors opinion. The solution will more than likely be a FC / BEV hybrid.
      I assume that it will be sooner than later that the topic of range anxietx will be dismissed.
      Ref. to the following links.

      http://bulletin.sciencebusiness.net/news/74774/Runcorn-company-leads-the-way-in-world-class-fuel-cell-technology
      http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/business/8856647.System_could_double_range_of_electric_cars/
        • 3 Years Ago
        No need for a FC hybrid. Zinc/Air batteries offer 5 to 10x the energy density of lithium at roughly half the cost. Then their are other new battery innovations like lithium-silicone nanotube batteries, lithium-cobalt oxide batteries (being developed by Toyota), and even lithium-plant virus that also give a 10x capacity boost, among others - if even just one or two of these make it to market it will have a major impact.

        It probably won't be more than 10 years before BEVs will be able to best ICEs in range, CHEAPLY, eliminating any need for hybrid range extenders. In larger vehicles we might see things like the Capstone microturbine which take diesel, biofuels, or methanol, and can extend a 200mile range EV up to 1,000 miles.

        No need to comment on this study because its clearly a joke.

        http://blogs.edmunds.com/greencaradvisor/2010/06/beyond-li-ion-researchers-pursuing-lithium-and-zinc-air-batteries.html
        http://www.greencar.com/articles/velozzi-electric-car-could-offer-up-1000-mile-range.php
        http://www.geek.com/articles/chips/plant-virus-makes-lithium-ion-batteries-last-10x-longer-20101210/
        • 3 Years Ago
        I hope lithium air batteries, zinc air, very advanced new fuel cells etc all succeed.
        However we should not confuse present engineering reality and simple cost reduction with bright ideas which are a gleam in the eye at the moment, and you can't plan on the basis of the latter as they may not pan out.
        This sort of issue is normally spoken of in terms of degrees of confidence.
        So for instance I am highly confident that cost reductions will be possible in present lithium batteries, as it is a lot to do with simply moving to higher production volumes.
        I would be marginally less confident that higher energy density batteries such as the NMC one Nissan plans will come to pass, as they still have some work to do on them, but it is still pretty much a done deal.
        Similarly I am fairly confident that a fuel cell vehicle using low temperature PEM cells and cylinder hydrogen storage will be economic within the next 5 or 6 years for larger vehicles, as we already have most of the technology and it is mainly although not exclusively a question of production engineering.
        The confidence in this would clearly be less than for the NMC batteries though, and much less than for economic present batteries.

        OTOH, if you are talking about non-cylinder hydrogen storage in hydrides etc or high temperature fuel cells for transport use which would be able to burn any fuel not just hydrogen you are pretty much entering the same realm as lithium air or zinc air batteries, which whilst they might be a nice idea need major, major technological advances to be put into production.
        You are talking order of magnitude advances in several metrics, before you even start thinking seriously about cost effective mass production.

        None of this means that we won't crack better technologies for air batteries, hydrogen storage or high temperature fuel cells, but we shouldn't count on any of them.

        Batteries are here right now and PEM fuel cells in the realms of what we can sensibly engineer.
        That is different to blue sky work, fascinating though that is.
        • 3 Years Ago
        For an even more intriguing twist, there are zinc/air fuel cells that are fueled by safe, compact and easily handled zinc pellets. An EV with a zinc/air fuel cell "range extender", could be quickly refueled by pouring in a new batch of zinc pellets and draining off the zinc oxide waste. The zinc oxide can then be refined into new zinc pellets.

        Not only does that offer faster refueling, but that approach avoids the development of zinc dendrites that limit the lifespan of rechargeable zinc batteries.
      • 3 Years Ago
      In other words, it is time for the spring 1995 predictions for the future:

      Cell phones will never surpass more than a few million units due to spotty coverage and expensive prices.

      Gas will continue to be under $2 a gallon for the foreseeable future

      The US will continue to support Iraq in our close partnership with Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran

      and some F'ING DUMBASS will try to predict the future 40 years out for electric cars!!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      LOL. 2 Billion cars - most of them petroleum based ? Where is all the oil going to come from - Pandora ?
        • 3 Years Ago
        WTF are you talking about...I don't think Pandora is gonna get out of the music business anytime soon...
        • 3 Years Ago
        Um, I think he's referring to the movie "Avatar" set on the fictional planet "Pandora", not the internet radio service.
      • 3 Years Ago
      There isnt enough available Lithium on Earth to make that many electric vehicles so unless they come up with new battery technology good luck!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Here are Chemettal's figures for lithium and lithium carbonate:
        Worldwide Lithium Reserves

        * Current estimates of worldwide Lithium reserves total about 30,000,000 tonnes Lithium. (or 150,000,000 tonnes Lithium Carbonate)*
        * Current worldwide demand is about 23,000 tonnes Lithium. (or 122,000 tonnes carbonate)*
        http://www.chemetalllithium.com/index.php?id=7

        The Leaf uses around 4kg of lithium for it's 24kwh battery, so reserves are enough for around 7.5 billion Leaf cars.
        If that starts to run short South Korea is developing the technology to extract it from seawater. This process may not be economic at present prices but it could certainly be done.
        For practical purposes lithium in the seawater is unlimited.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Trend Tracker, meet peak oil.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yet another one for the waste paper basket.
      What is the point of a study which does not state it's parameters?
      Perhaps if you are mug enough to lay out £500 for the full report it does, but the primary purpose of this sort of thing is so that car companies and oil companies can say that 'according to expert reports even by 2050 electric cars will only comprise 1.5% of the market'.
      Well, I can confirm for absolutely nothing that they will not be running a couple of billion cars on oil.
      It is pretty safe to say that the market for electric cars is greater if petrol is $20/gallon than if it is $2/gallon.
      So what price are they assuming?

      This is simple propaganda, pretending to be a scientific study.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I agree that is sounds a little bit too "propaganda-y", but without reading the full report, it sounds fairly reasonable considering that people really don't change very fast. Especially something as entrenched as personal transportation.

        I wish that it would be just like flipping a switch and have everyone moved over to electric cars, but that's not going to happen. It's a slow process, especially since cars stay on the road for a long time.

        For instance, 20-year old cars are common on the road today. With electric cars just coming out, it'll take 20 some odd years before the current cars get replaced with the brand new cars of today.

        It's a slow process, but one I hope happens quicker than 2050.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would not like to live in the US for all the cold faced miss representation (lies) that takes place. Overseen by the likes of Fox News at one end and a generally timid. sycophantic style of journalism at the other. Most people 95% of the time only need a car to take them ten to sixty miles a day. We have the range now we need the price to come down. With the plenthora of technological advances reported almost daily we could reasonably expect significant improvements in price in the short term. I don't so much have range anxiety, but charging bay angst, as I am one of many without a home charging possibility. With a few more local people like Mad Boris though we should be ok here too. Murdock wants to bring the likes of Fox News to the UK, God hel[p us. He'll put us back into the Stone Age.
      harlanx6
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think the study is feasible. I would expect transportation to transition away from oil to new technologies in the next 39 years whether or not oil is still available. By the way, I think the oil supply is too politicized and manipulated to trust any predictions (including mine). Common sense would tell us we have had enough oil in the past, we have enough oil now, and there is no real indication Exxon is going to relinquish it's dominance as energy provider any time soon. When you can no longer afford gasoline for your BMW, then you will know the Malthusians were right! Right now the economists have the advantage over the philosophers.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Exxon dominant as an oil supplier? Not for many years past. Try state suppliers like Aramco and Petrobras.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        @harlan:
        Perhaps for you individually petrol at $10 gallon would not cause any great difficulty.
        However the economy and most people with it are not so fortunately placed.
        Anyway, the point is that based purely on past trends oil supply is growing very slowly if at all, in fact the growth is in what is known as 'other liquids' ie stuff made into oil, not oil per se.
        Meanwhile oil prices continue to surge.

        I find it difficult to see why you regard this as no problem.
        harlanx6
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Do you have any trouble finding and affording oil?
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Oil prices including inflation adjusted figures since their recent low in 1998:
        1998 $11.91 $15.93
        1999 $16.56 $21.62
        2000 $27.39 $34.65
        2001 $23.00 $28.32
        2002 $22.81 $27.62
        2003 $27.69 $32.82
        2004 $37.66 $43.42
        2005 $50.04 $55.80
        2006 $58.30 $63.02
        2007 $64.20 $67.37
        2008 $91.48 $92.31
        2009 $53.48 $54.24
        2010 Partial $70.67 $70.84

        The right hand column is inflation adjusted.

        http://inflationdata.com/inflation/inflation_rate/historical_oil_prices_table.asp

        So prices rose around 4.5 times in this period of 12 years.
        And here is a chart of oil output:
        http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch5en/appl5en/worldoilreservesevol.html

        Eyeballing actual production it looks as though the rise in output is from something like 26bnbpa to around 30bnbp, around 1.15 times.

        If cheap oil were readily available then supply should rise to meet demand without inflation adjusted prices rising.

        On present trends then in the next 12 years or so we might have a bit more oil, but the price you would expect to pay might be around $300/barrel.
        I am not quite sure where that would put petrol prices in the US, but the answer is surely high.
        Of course the economy might not stand $300 oil, but as production costs are also rising that would simply mean that far less oil would be produced.

        Note that I have not taken any account in this of the predicted fall in output shown in the graph I linked, but simply extended current trends.

        So it would seem to me that there is a lot of very good evidence for oil becoming increasingly scarce relative to demand and expensive barring so big a crash that few would be able to afford it anyway, without entering into any debate about peak oil.
        It should perhaps be noted though that this behaviour is exactly what would be expected were oil peaking, and cornucopians like Yergin have had a terrible track record in predicting oil output and prices.
        According to them we should be swimming in cheap oil now, with production way above present and prices a fraction of those we are really paying.
        harlanx6
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        I stand corrected, but I just use Exxon as a a representative of the major oil producers (who will not do very well if they allow oil to get so expensive everyone has to go to alternate sources). My position has been consistent, and up to now it has been right on. You know more about what we are being told by the manipulators and politicizers, and I am just indicating what makes sense. I sure as hell could be wrong, and if the price of oil goes into a prolonged escalation in real terms (not just tied to the weakness of the falling dollar) I will change my position as it makes sense to me. Commodities like oil have a real value, currencies do not. If oil stays relatively cheap, it destroys the credibility of the "peak oilers". Up to now, they have been dead wrong. What the future brings is impossible to predict, but it doesn't stop a gaggle of "experts" from making fools of themselves. If I make a fool of myself, who cares!
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Why do people keep saying there's no problem with oil? It really only takes a few minutes with google to see that in all likelihood there is a problem and the chances are it's not going away. I'm not doom mongering though as it seems there are plenty of alternatives in the pipeline.
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