Challenges for EV’s Growth

Kevin Parmenter, Field Applications Manger, Taiwan Semiconductor



Kevin Parmenter, Field Applications Manger, Taiwan Semiconductor

The Last model year sales of new electric vehicles passed a milestone of one million units.  According to McKinsey's Electric Vehicle Index at the current growth trajectory, "EV producers could almost quadruple that achievement by 2020, moving 4.5 million units or around 5 percent of the overall global light-vehicle market."  This is great and a challenge to the power electronics industry.  The Auto industry is planning to release more than 350 new, feature-laden EV models by 2025, with ranges that increasingly top 200 miles.  So, why would someone NOT buy an EV?   Ranked in terms of objections Price is # 1, driving range is #2 and #3 is access to charging infrastructure.  EV prices are declining as volumes increase and driving range is still a limitation so much focus in on battery and charging technologies. So much so, that approximately 53 battery conferences are held every year.  You could attend one a week and not see them all. Hopefully out of all that activity comes greater EV range, so let's assume the cost and range are solved by innovation and capitalism.   Are EV's more energy efficient and less polluting than a conventional automobile if you factor in the non-renewable energy sources to create the EV itself including the batteries and the disposal issues of the finite life batteries and is the operating cost to the consumer less or does it just make us feel good for going green?  I'm not sure we have all that data yet.   As I have stated in other articles, for something to become mainstream in adoption other innovations must take also take place.  To compensate for there being no clear Moore's law in the battery industry how do EV's keep up.   Grabat in Spain have reportedly developed a graphene battery that can provide electric vehicles with 500-mile driving range – now things are getting interesting assuming manufacturing cost, reliability, safety, environmental issues as well as other concerns are met.   Once we overcome the remaining obstacles our real issue is infrastructure.  The latest figures show there are approximately 375,000 filling stations globally. So, let us assume conservatively we need to replace the equivalent of the global gas stations in terms of energy transfer capability. According to my local utility adding an EV is like adding an additional household or in the US say a 200-amp service for each EV added (assuming long-term – overnight charging rate). To replace all that infrastructure, we need more reliable renewable energy because if we burn coal and oil to recharge electric vehicles then what's the point?  We need charging not just inside our homes and offices but where we need it –grocery stores, parks, restaurants, shopping malls, places of business, hotels, churches, Schools, gyms, where people want to drive to and from at the point of need.  The other upside could be the holy grail of power generation, which is energy storage on the grid.   This is going to take work on the smart grid, IoT (think smart charging), Bidirectional converters, solar and wind generation efficiency improvements and more.  Think of the power electronics opportunity to replace all the gas station infrastructure and solve all the needed issues to mainstream electric transportation globally – it may be the largest power electronics market we have ever known.