: Behind The Wheel Of An EV On the Way To E-Mobility
The first electric vehicle prototypes were riding on earth some ten years before the first iconic internal combustion engine (ICE) cars appeared. All of these vehicles were mostly horse carts blended with stationary engines. The appeal of such vehicles was so huge, that in the last decade of the 19th century, there were multiples of small family factories producing them. Based on the statistics, at the turn of the 19th century, there were more than 3000 vehicles riding in the USA, including another type, the steam cars. This surge in demand comes to short end in the next 20 years, seeing
the EVs together with steam cars giving their way to the ICE cars. Why did that happened, taking into account that the EVs had a strong backing by the very Thomas Alva Edison, the Elon Musk of his age? There are many theories to that and not necessarily based on conspiracy. In the early days, the range of the EVs was not that constricting, taking into account that most of the roads in the cities, let alone outside
them, was not paved and hence did raise little desire to drive for longer distances. Yet, as soon as the ICE cars makers copied the biggest advantages of the EVs, mostly
by inventing the electric starter and automatic gearbox, the idea of setting off for a day-long voyage in a car has become more appealing. And, compared to the range of
EVs, even achievable.Last but not least, the advantage of a quickly refillable gas tank has proved its worth in crises such as natural disasters, let alone during the (world) wars. During such situations there was simply no space for slow battery charging.On the other hand, there is even public evidence of the US tramway city lines being shut down and exchanged on purpose by the secret consortium of the GM bus division together with the Standard Oil (a US oil exploitation company). Also, between 2005-2007 a documentary “Who Killed The Electric Car?” has shown the cannibalistic campaign of the GM against its own high-tech electric vehicles branded “EV1”. These vehicles have been taken away from their tenants and all crushed to pieces, although
the tenants were offering huge sums to get these cars to their possession. The very same production line that made the EV1 cars has soon after that started to produce the SUV Hummer H2, a > 20liter per 100 km juggernaut. To make it even more contrived, the president George Bush Jr.´s administration has offered vast subsidies for purchasing these gas guzzlers. Again, there is a lot of evidence on the connection
between the Republican Party and the oil industry in the US, not speaking about the link between the Bush family and the oil industry in Texas, their home state.
In conclusion, current EVs are no invention, since their main components – electric motor, traction battery and controllers (although primitive in the beginning) –existed right from the start. Some of the key automotive companies have even continued to produce EVs in small series during the whole course of the 20th century, mostly to keep the know-how for the expected future revival of the EV market. A simple definition of an EV might be, that it is any means of transport propelled by an electric motor, which gets energy from a battery (or a hydrogen combusting fuel cell; super capacitor or from catenaries). For readers fond of politics or conspiracy, one could also conclude with an alternative definition, such that EV is any means of transport, which disrupts every inflexible vehicle producer and suppliers of any sort of propulsion media, mostly the oil industry.
: E-Mobility – A Tapestry Of Challenges
Whatever defi nition of EV you fancy, one electric vehicle does not bring about the electric mobility. I came to this idea in the early spring of 2012 after seeing the fi rst Tesla Model S in my life in Prague. The car stood salty, dirty of snow, parked crammed
among other cars next to the pavement. I have almost overpassed it how ordinary it was. That moment I realised that there is still a long way to the e-mobility concept. Personal cars EVs represent but a piece, although a very important one, of the e-mobility tapestry only. The whole work is composed of multiple threads: inclusion of every sort of zero-emission motor transport as such, which through renewable energy
generation and changes in energy distribution together with help of IT connection possibilities will allow for new ways of thinking about transport and its modality. Only weaving all these threads together brings about the innovation of e-mobility. Otherwise, let the EVs run on a non-ecological source of lectricity and their impact on environment will be limited; once plugged in, if the local charging infrastructure will not allow for smart charging (V2G, for example) or off er the vehicles available for sharing, then e-mobility would turn to be only about cars with diff erent drive. And that is not enough.
In the middle of September I took part at a prestigious international conference focusing on developments in batteries and their applications. Speakers representing world´s biggest lithium battery and EV producers were giving their insights, same as for vendors of home energy storage systems (ESS) and energy distribution company representatives. The car manufacturers are nervously monitoring the rising demand for lithium batteries in other types of transport, fearing there will be not enough cells for this expansion. Echo of the same boom comes from the energy storage business,
where the market is awaiting the dawn of a new important player in ESS,such was Tesla for the automotive sector in 2008. The ESS and renewable source of energy (RSE) market is already expanding to our households – one can have a home ESS and RSE solution from unexpected players like IKEA or the car manufacturers! No wonder, when one sees the whole sector being subsidised across the entire EU, as
the state governments try to decrease the purchase price for households on the news technologies. It seems that the game is already won for the e-mobility concept, yet the
opposite is true – speakers for energy distribution at the conference repeated that the drive for households will be limited in comparison to the boom in EV industry. The reason to this is blamed on the slow and bureaucratic energy sector and its complex connection to the policy and law decision makers. Hence, if RSEs and ESS are still to fi ght their way in the EU market, EVs are already settled and set to work for the
spread of e-mobility as such.
: E-mobility in Czechia
Ever since governmental subsidies appeared, endless discussion on their pros and cons appeared with them. In my perspective, if the timeframe and scope for subsidising a new technology is well controlled, subsidies represent a good tool. And e-mobility with all its aspects is worth of subsidising. The Czech Ministry of Industry has recently opened a third call for proposals for SMEs, giving funds for EV, charging
infrastructure and RSE procurement. Cities and public organisations may get funds for the purchase of EVs from the Czech Ministry of Environment. Still, the public is waiting for the general subsidies for common car owners. From my point of view, such subsidies should help to balance the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)between an EV and an ICE car in the timeframe of longevity of the EV traction battery. This represents
some 5-8 years or 100-160 thousand kilometres, varying from car to car. With such a form of subsidies on new EVs for public, together with the raising market of second-hand EVs, the widespread of EVs in Czechia should be secured.
Hand in hand has to come the existence of legislative framework on smart charging/energy distribution and its connection with RSEs. In this perspective, Czechia has between2008- 2015unfortunately lost an opportunity to do more. Today, thanks to the EU regulations and directives that were inspired by the experience from the pilot projects in the member states, Czech lands catch up on this framework development.
One of the benefi ts will be the roaming between the local and interstate charging infrastructure providers. In 2020 one should be able to make a business trip in an EV around his state or even abroad with one ID chip, much as it is already the case with Tesla owners and their vast charging network system.
The development of e-mobility in the Czech lands is visible on the positive reaction of the local industry; the machinery engineering sector has taken on the challenge and up to day there are several local EV producers. A nice image of it may be the current project of trolleybuses that will use local, local drive and local traction battery, all coming from Czech companies. The personal cars sector is awaiting the new range of EVs coming from SKODA AUTO, including the old Felicia model; the AVIA Trucks company is preparing 7,5-12 ton trucks and TPC Industry works on a new version of the light Multicar truck, an icon from the communist times, for example.