Battery Electric: optimization and investment potential
The greatest expectations are currently being placed on electric drivetrains. “Battery-powered cars are good, but not suitable for all requirements,” states Bert Hellwig, Electromobility Specialist at ZF. Aside from high costs, reasons include the high battery weight, coupled with extremely low energy content in terms of mass, which thus results in relatively short ranges. In compact models such as the BMW i3, the battery weighs around 300 kilograms. In mid-size SUVs such as the Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes EQC and even the Tesla Model S, the battery can weigh twice as much. Plans at Toyota envisage a solid-state battery ready for series production in just a few years. This should be able to store more energy at considerably less weight. A specific launch date is yet to be mentioned by the Japanese manufacturer.
Batteries are also criticized for their so-called CO2 rucksack, due to the masses of energy consumed in their production. For large electric vehicles with bigger, more powerful batteries, this rucksack is significantly larger than that of smaller vehicles. However, once environmental impacts are considered over the entire lifecycle of a vehicle – including manufacturing, use over 200,000 kilometers and end-of-life processing – the scale tips in favor of the BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) over time. This is according to Mercedes-Benz, which identified the trend in their “Lifecycle Compact” study. The Stuttgart-based vehicle manufacturer compared the environmental sustainability of its vehicles with the environmental impact of various drivetrain concepts over the duration of their entire life cycle. Calculations took raw material extraction, manufacturing, use and recycling into account. According to this, the battery-electric models – based on an average mileage of 200,000 kilometers – hold an advantage over conventional drives in terms of CO2 emissions. Even with today‘s EU electricity mix, they account for around 45 percent of total emissions, and therefore the higher energy demand in production is cancelled out. “The optimization of battery technology and manufacturing offers great potential for further savings,” says Jochen Hermann, Head of CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric) Development and eDrive Development at Mercedes-Benz Cars.