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The Rise of Electric Vehicles

The IEF seeks to encourage the global growth of electric vehicles (EVs), which are set to replace vehicles powered by internal combustion engines over the next few decades.

IEF SG Joseph McMonigle inspecting a battery pack at the GM battery plant

Enhancing battery technology is key to wider adoption and in June 2021 IEF Secretary General Joseph McMonigle paid a visit to General Motors' technical center in the United States where their new battery technology is being developed. His visit included a comprehensive tour of the company's battery manufacturing facilities, domestic supply chain development, electric vehicle infrastructure and EV design. GM recently invested $1.5 billion to expand and enhance its battery testing lab and research and development facilities.

The IEF examined evolutions in the transport sector at the 10th IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks on 19 February 2020. Increased fuel efficiency, the rise of alternative fuels, improved battery storage, and growing investment are important factors in EV growth.

Global sales of EVs accelerated in 2020, rising 43 percent to 3.24 million despite car sales generally decreasing during the coronavirus pandemic*. All-electric cars accounted for 69 percent of sales in 2020, with the remainder of sales being plug-in hybrids (31 percent).

As governments set dates for ending the sales of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, it is projected that investment in technologies which support mass vehicle electrification will drive down prices and increase adoption. As a result, demand for EVs is expected to rise strongly, as many countries call for an end to their reliance on internal combustion engines by 2030. The rosy forecast for EV sales reflects trends in battery innovation, governmental policies encouraging the development of EVs, and mounting industry commitments to building the plants necessary to meet consumer needs. Some industry forecasts suggest EVs will make up more than half of global sales in most vehicle segments by 2035.

However, the extent and duration of policy support from governments, charging and national electric grid infrastructure upgrades, future consumer behavior, and the price of oil are difficult to predict and will impact future penetration. The successful deployment of EVs has also been hindered by the cost of producing the widely-favoured lithium ion batteries, limited travel ranges, and the time is takes to charge them. Ultimately, continued cross-sector collaboration will be required for optimized and sustainable transport solutions.

Types of Electric Vehicle

Currently, three types of EVs are in use: hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

HEVs are vehicles powered by internal combustion engines and one or more electric motors using energy from a battery that is charged through regenerative braking.

PHEVs are similar to HEVs but have a much larger battery that can be charged by plugging in to the grid. They can travel much further on battery power than HEVs.

BEVs, commonly known as just EVs, are fully electric vehicles powered solely by electric motors. The energy used to power the motors comes from batteries that can be recharged by plugging in to the grid. BEVs are zero emission vehicles, producing no harmful tailpipe emissions.

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G)

One area that has drawn considerable interest is the potential for EVs to serve as an energy-storage receptacle, known as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) storage.

Smart charging technologies can control when and how quickly a battery is charged and allow batteries to discharge their energy back to the grid. Vehicles can be charged when demand is low or there is too much power in the grid, such as during the night or in times of high solar output. Vehicles can return energy to the grid at times of peak demand, helping stabilize the grid and benefiting their owners financially.

* Data from EV-Volumes.com
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