Just when is the electric car going to take off? EVs have dominated the agenda of the motoring press in recent years, so it was good to hear so many different groups whose involvement is key to the electric car’s acceptance singing off the same hymn sheet on the second day of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Speakers included Henrik Fisker, Mercedes future tech boss Herbert Kohler and the man tasked with creating Ireland’s EV network, Paul Mulvaney. All were sure of one thing – that EVs will be accepted – but its total success and its path there are still open to some debate.
It was Fisker who spoke with the most confidence on the future success of the EV. “The time is now for the electric car,” he said. “Higher gas prices, increased environmental awareness and government support have brought the technology to the stage we’re at now.”
“Everyone will see them on the road as the latest technology and no-one is going to want to go back,” he added.
Kohler was clear that much more development was needed on electric motors. “Cost, volume, efficiency, NVH, scalability, power and torque and crucially modularity all need extensive development,” he said.
Perhaps the two greatest themes to emerge from the plenary session was the importance of all stakeholders working together on common technology in areas such as standard charging points and the need for governments to further support the technology with more money and incentives.
“EVs need to find their way into cities through subsidies,” said Hiroshi Ogawa of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. “Then we need to get more charging points and standardisation of the charging technology.”
“Standardisation is a very big problem,” said Mulvaney. “Systems need to work wherever you are. Once all stakeholders work together this will happen.”
But the final word from the session went to the impressive Fisker, who highlighted a problem with EVs that is crucial for their success in city use.
“People live in apartment blocks with no garage. How do these people charge? Charging blocks need to be set-up – people have to be able to charge overnight wherever they live.”
Whether you approved of EVs or not, it was heartening to hear so many of the key stakeholders agree on where EV technology will eventually end up, even if their views differed on how the technology will get there.
What the session lacked was the opposing view as scrutiny – where are the charging points? Just when will the cost come down? Will consumers really give up their freedom of range?
There were lots of answers today – but just as many new questions emerged. Next up is a debate on hydrogen, a technology even more in its infancy but one perhaps with a brighter long-tem future. I’ll let you know how bright, tomorrow.