These 5 Signs Indicate Electric Cars Are The Future


Certainly, we all can debate this until the cows come home, or we can see what the ladies and gentlemen down in the trenches of the EV car world have to say.

Engineers and journalists that have their complete focus set on electric vehicles, propulsion, developments in both drivetrain and battery tech, an impressive work background & a vast knowledge of the revolutionary things happening in the EV car world, are probably the best sources of information we can possibly have.

The video above – done by Jason Fenske, the owner & creator of Engineering Explained – gives us an in-depth view into why EV car engineers & experts think that electric cars are the future. Jason traveled to Mexico City, where he talked with some Formula E engineers & experts about the topic at hand.

Electric Vehicle Adoption Is All About Size

While there’s much talk about potentially electrifying large container & merchant cargo ships, airplanes and similarly sized machines, the fact remains; electric vehicle adoption is all about size. This sign comes from Lucas Di Grassi, a driver for the Audi Sport Formula E team.

According to Lucas, while it makes perfect sense to add a battery to a bicycle or a car, the energy density and the weight of batteries don’t make much sense – in its current form – for larger vessels like container ships, cruise ships, and widebody airliners. Currently, the weight of bunker fuel or jet fuel provides a much more energy denser propulsion solution than battery power.

On the other hand, the size of the car hits that sweet spot of size and weight, providing a much more hospitable environment for electrification.

EV Utilization Depends On Location

The next sign comes from Vinit Patel, an engineer at a Formula E team called Mahindra. His opinion resolves around location and economics as primary signs of EV adoption. The trends are going in the direction of more and more people moving to urban environments. This is where EV cars excel. Short trips, steadily available power sources for vehicle charging, fast developing infrastructure and trends in lawmaking, pushing Co2 producing vehicles out of the city centers, and certainly in the future, out of cities altogether. For Vinik, it’s all about the economics.

For him, alternative solutions such as hydrogen don’t make sense in urban environments. For vehicle usage, hydrogen must first be produced, then shipped, then store and then burned in order to produce electricity. And most of the hydrogen today is produced by utilizing natural gas, impacting Co2 emission rates globally.

With an electric car, all you need is to produce the electricity, move it by an efficient delivery system, store it in the car’s batteries and that’s it! No surplus energy state changes, no need to utilize energy-dependent transport sources and no need for additional, rather complicated and labor intensive to build infrastructure.

ABB fast charger in Zurich

Improved Footprint Of Energy Production

This great sign comes from Delphine Biscayne, an engineer at Formula E team Venturi. She comes from a history of work for the Williams Formula 1 team, where she helped develop KERS (Kinetic energy recovery system). Her endorsement of a completely EV future comes from the developments in the energy production industry. With better and more sustainable production sources coming online, the move to completely electric vehicles makes more sense. Clearly, energy production becomes greener with time and one day, we’ll be at a point where vehicles running on EV power alone, are globally a lot greener than the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) powered vehicles.

This means that both the production means for both the vehicle and energy are getting to a point where Co2 emissions are greatly reduced. With the United States energy production spread going more towards renewable energy sources, so does the electricity needed to power these vehicles come with a smaller environmental footprint.

Currently, the biggest qualm people have with electric cars is the pollution that arises from their production, the recycling of the batteries and range – all of which will be undoubtedly sorted out in the next few years.

Nissan Energy Solar

Sustainable Vehicle Production

This next sign ties into the previous one perfectly. Coming from Nicki Shields, a Formula E pit reporter, this point gives us great confidence that the electric car has a bright future. Currently, there’s not a lot of strictly EV dedicated vehicle platforms nor production facilities out there. Plainly put, there’s not a lot of car makers who are devoting a large chunk of their R&D and production to making exclusively electric cars. With the advent of purely electric vehicle platforms, dedicated solely to providing a stable foundation for a vehicle powered by an electric motor, drawing energy from a cluster of batteries, the production of such vehicles will not only become more efficient and cheaper but also a lot greener as well.

The move to all-electric vehicles will undoubtedly push auxiliary industries like wheel makers, tire companies and others, all in an effort to produce a product that caters to the specific needs of the electric car. This will in turn, result in a vehicle that’s far more efficient and cost-effective to run while being a lot easier on the environment.

Daimler subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE starts construction of second battery factory in Kamenz – fourfold increase of production and logistics area up to around 80,000 m2;

Battery Technology

Certainly, everything mentioned in the first five signs of this article is important. However, battery technology is the bread & batter behind the adoption rate of the electric vehicle. This sign comes courtesy of Paul Fickers, an engineering director for the NIO Formula E team.

For decades, cargo is being hauled by electric locomotives, people are being moved in fast traveling, high-speed electric trains, while most industrial equipment runs of electric motors. On the other hand, we’re still in the infant stages of the high-capacity, high-density battery world. The quest for efficiency in ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles have been going for over 30 years, and it still eats up a large chunk of R&D budgets set aside by the major car makers.

On the other hand, battery technology is making strides in efficiency, energy density, and weight. Additionally, we’re developing improved production means to actually build them, affording nature with less of an impact as well. Furthermore, charging times are getting quicker by the day, and soon enough, we’ll be at a place in time where it makes more sense to charge and utilize a battery-powered vehicle than to fill up at a gas station.

The most obvious example is discussed in the video itself by the author. His Nissan Leaf comes with a 67% improvement in battery energy density than the same vehicle from 2011. It’s cheaper to make, runs better, has more power & torque, improved performance figures and costs less. Just imagine what will happen in the next 5 or 10 years. To view the entire video, press play below.

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43 Comments on "These 5 Signs Indicate Electric Cars Are The Future"

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Bread and batter? Is this a new version of an old saying, or an error?

Also love the photo edit fail on the ABB charger photo in Zurich. The blond gal was added later (and possibly other things).

Both the bicycle and the blond women where added later, both of their shadows are in a completely different direction

Good eye, sniper!

I am not convinced the photo is real at all. Even if you think some of the shadows line up, they are far too crisp for that morning haze and the building shadows would stripe the whole bridge, but they don’t. Fake as a smile at a N. Korean nuclear summit.

The seagulls are clearly fake too.

Ever take a look at IKEA catalog? All the sets (picutres) are virtual renderings. 3D modeling software renderings..

And for Saudi Arabia IKEA removed all females from their catalog.

Actually, short trip Ferries, do make economic sense as they burn a lot of bunker fuel.
Also, buses have some of the quickest payback periods of any vehicle converted to EV’s.

You can also pair that with your own Solar & Storage, and get a long term Fixed Price fuel contract from your Solar/Storage provider for your fleet operation.

This hardly makes sense…Here’s my list, only 3 signs are needed:
1. Cheaper, follow the money…EVs will eventually be cheaper thanks their long life span, less fuel expense, less maintenance and after the battery’s serviceable life, they can be utilized for energy storage purposes…
2. Cleaner, every single day new renewable projects like solar panels are being installed; the grid is getting cleaner…
3. Automated charging, while EVs and EV charging are still in their infancy, they’ll eventually figure out fast automated charging…

Was this just translated without being proof-read? Seems likely.
Still, I agree with the general thrust. EVs good, everything else BAHD

A new car is a major purchase, people want one that can do everything all the time.

Not true everywhere. Looks at some European best sellers like Renault Clio and Twingo, Fiat 500, Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 or even Smart Fortwo (less success but smaller). They are often the second car of a family.

They are also often the only car of a single person and sometimes also for a family. We drive a Skoda Station Wagon with the base being a VW Polo. We are a family of four. The trunk is bigger than the leaf trunk…

Due to crowded cities it makes more sense to own a small car, and get a parking spot way easier.

“According to Luca, while it makes perfect sense to add a battery to a bicycle or a car, the energy density and the weight of batteries don’t make much sense – in its current form – for larger vessels like container ships, cruise ships, and widebody airliners. Currently, the weight of bunker fuel or jet fuel provides a much more energy denser propulsion solution than battery power.”

It’s not really larger vessels that is the barrier, it’s longer trips. Let’s not forget that when steam engines were first put into ocean-going ships, they were used primarily for entering and leaving ports. Steaming longer distances came later, with improvements in steam engine efficiency.

It’s going to be the same for ships. We are already seeing short-range ferries with EV powertrains. As batteries gradually improve in energy density, we’ll gradually see ships going longer and longer distances using electric drive.

Airliners are a different matter. Battery power will only power propellers, not jet engines. Prop planes can’t match the speed of jet airliners. Prop planes can service short “puddle jumper” flights, but won’t ever be competitive for long distance flights without tech advancements which are currently science fiction.

If you look at modern high-bypass jet engines, they are propelled far more by air pushed through the turbines than by jet exhaust. You could think of them as big covered propellers.

The real problems for battery air travel are lack of energy density in batteries, as well as the need for quick turnarounds of the aircraft on the ground. Not sure if those will ever be solved. However, electricity could certainly power high speed rail.

James, I am a bit confused by your message…. A modern High Bypass Ratio Turbofan engine actually only takes a small percentage of the air entering the nacelle through the actual compressor, and turbine stages, the low pressure turbines at the rear of the engine drive the center shaft which spins the large fan at the front of the engine, which does 80%+ of the work propelling the plane. The bypass air is cooler, and slower moving then the air that passes the turbine, and becomes a sort of sound insulation around the very fast moving, and hot turbine exhaust. This is why turbofan airplanes are so much quieter then the older turbojet engines. You are correct in concept though, it is a ducted fan…

An open fan could be made to be more efficient, but noise is a real problem for those, so nobody has tried to make it work on a commercial jet yet.

Eh? Here in Germany at least, smallish commercial “jets” regularly use turboprop engines. I think the relative increase in noise level is acceptable for these, since they are not as loud as the larger ones in the first place…

Long distance airplanes and ships appear to be an opportunity for the deployment of hydrogen fuel cells (FCs) used in a hybrid configuration. For airplanes: use hydrogen jet boosters to accelerate to altitude and FCs to generate power for electric motor driven ducted fans, at level and descending flights. Ships are more simple; needing only hydrogen, FCs and electric screws.
To keep then clean, the hydrogen should be created by electrolysis from clean power sources..

Hydrogen from electrolysis is very expensive. It might actually be more realistic to use methane reforming with carbon capture… I too was thinking that long-haul ships, and perhaps even planes, might be situations where hydrogen might actually make sense… But after reading a pretty thorough analysis of various “new energy” transportation options, with detailed breakdowns of prices and projections of future price potential, I’m not so sure of the prospects at this point. Hydrogen appears attractive for long-duration applications, since you “only” have to scale the size of the hydrogen tanks, while the the size of the expensive and heavy fuel cell stack is determined only by peak power… Except that the hydrogen tanks are actually neither very small and light, nor very cheap. It’s not even totally clear whether they can beat the costs of Li-Ion batteries in the long term; and while density is higher, the difference is not as large as one might think. For applications where Li-Ion batteries are prohibitive, hydrogen will often be as well. For ships, I wonder whether flow batteries might work. The price becomes very attractive for long-duration applications; but density is lower than for Li-Ion… Don’t know how much of a… Read more »

if current is nearly for free, think solar in the dessert, the electrolysis will be cheap.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that: the electrolysis cells are so expensive that hydrogen produced by electrolysis is not competitive even when the electricity is more or less free. It would require some unexpected major technological breakthrough to make this viable, other than for niche uses…

WRT ships; once the prop is attached to an electric motor ships can start with electric propulsion with enough batteries for the first and last 500 miles of the journey, then shift to diesel generation of electricity. As tech improves swap out the diesels for fuel cells or whatever is the next lowest carbon/pollution generator for the longer transits.

For aircraft; hybrid parallel propulsion with turbofans providing most of the grunt at take off while cruise is mainly battery electric, then all hands on deck for landing/potential go around thrust makes sense.
Airbus and Rolls Royce are already going this route.

The article needs to be more detailed with a lot of research done like Mckinseys Deliotte and Ark Research wherein they talk about absolute numbers. It takes more than a few opinions from engineers/HODs to push for a larger EV policy and adoption

Total cost of ownership and meeting some minimal requirements for range is what matters. If EV is significantly cheaper on total cost of ownership (price of car, life of car, maintenance, fuel) then people will go for it assuming reliability & safety is no worse. The fact that performance is better and Tesla is driving cool/better features into their car will accelerate the transition.

Beyond that you are over thinking it for the majority of buyers/users.

If buyers generally looked at the costs of operation, EVs would already have taken over most segments…

i would save around 300€/year owning a leaf instead my ICE, however upfront it would cost 7.000-10.000€ more. So after 24-30 years witth no battery replacement needed the leaf will be cheaper… At the moment it seems far more expensive to me.

What LICE are you comparing which LEAF to?

I’d like to know more about VW electric cars,their availability,price and electro station
In the U.S.

I would maintain that your average car buyer cares more about what color the cup holders are than any technical issues.

The main driving force behind any car I want is how powerful is the air conductor is and how many bugs a electrical system doesn’t have.

The second reason is why I’m not thrilled about cars getting more and more techie based in that when something breaks it will be more expensive to fix.

Air conductor?

In terms of powering a cruise ship by battery power the cruise ship the Carnival Pride burns though 700 tons of fuel on a seven day cruise and needs 62 megawatts of power while it’s at sea.

At the same time the cruise ship is often heading to remote islands and to places were the power grid may not be able to handle a cruise ship coming in and drawing 100 megawatts of power for eight hours while in port.

But the home ports often do have major transmission lines running though them or near them so it’s possible with 10 to 30 years of battery tech breakthroughs.

Thank you for giving me another reason to never go on a cruise ship! Does it really consume that much diesel fuel for 7 days in a floating petri dish? Yikes.
Now multiply that by every Navy vessel and commercial cargo ship… nevermind jet engines. These are some serious and rather nasty habits.

Yes, global CO2 production from ships is bigger than from planes… In terms of CO2 per tonne-kilometres, they are still much better though AFAIK.

(I’m pretty sure the absolute fuel usage of all cruise ships is negligible compared to all cargo ships…)

Many (most?) electric ferries in operation right now solve the grid issue by having batteries installed at the charging facility.

A current Li-Ion battery storing this amount of energy however would weigh more than 50,000 tonnes (no idea how that relates to the mass of the entire boat), and would cost several times as much as the rest of the boat…

Some sort of flow battery could be significantly cheaper, but weigh even more.

I recently drove my Tesla Model 3 Long-Range BEV round trip from Virginia to Texas very similar to the way I would have driven a gasoline car ( It was a wonderful experience with its high acceleration, comfort and Autopilot! It is my fourth BEV, including two Nissan LEAFs and a Chevy Bolt EV. I really liked the Bolt EV, but it could not be driven on that trip. The Model 3 LR is great!

The Nissan Improved Footprint Of Energy Production Shows 2 great zero emission vehicles the bicycles in the garage. They should also be pushing the Nissan V2H Vehicle to Home that provides storage for the Solar and can use it at night or even on Peak Energy Hours with Time of Day. We still have a way to go.

Paul Brandon| Fisher Studios

I personally took the picture and none of it was edited.

Paul Brandon| Fisher Studios

I was referring to the picture of the BMW charging in Zurich

The “biggest qualm” with electric cars isn’t the production or disposal of pollutants, it’s the rediculous price of the vehicles themselves. When I can get a used electric Honda Civic for under 10k I’ll buy one.