Electric vehicles are here to stay—and the electric technology is only going to keep getting more and more impressive.
Cars that can be used as emergency generators during power outages? Ranges of over 500 miles? Battery technology that turns your vehicle into a sleek machine optimizing its power? It’s all on its way in the near future. We’re on the cusp of some incredible changes in electric technology, and we’re definitely going to see these in our lifetimes.
Today, it’s all about what we can expect from the future of electric technology. And if you’re not excited by the end, I don’t know how to help you.
Welcome to Alternative Power Week! In honor of Earth Day, we’re going to spend the next several days diving into the nitty-gritty of the new, eco-friendly technology powering the vehicles of the future to keep you informed on all the latest changes in the automotive industry. If you have any questions or ideas for a future article, leave your ideas in the comments!
More Efficient Batteries = Longer Range
I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that one of the biggest improvements we’ll see in the near future are more efficient batteries that produce a longer range. And this is going to be true for all batteries, including the ones on your smartphone or your laptop.
There are tons of ways this can happen. The lithium-ion batteries currently used in electric cars can become further refined in order to pack more power into a smaller space. Scientists have also been looking at switching up the elements and metals used in lithium-ion batteries, some of which promise more effective use. Other companies have developed better battery management systems that can help you keep track of battery use in order to optimize it, batteries made out of sea water, or batteries that serve as structural components of the vehicle which would in turn lighten the vehicles and allow them to get more use out of the same size battery.
Whatever the case may be, you can expect your car batteries to start taking you further per charge.
A solid-state car battery offers a lot of potential for the BEV game.
The current lithium-ion batteries are composed of a liquid solution through which a current passes to either hold a charge or power a car. That’s all fine and dandy, but a solid-state battery uses a solid, not liquid, electrolyte solution, which compresses the function of a lithium-ion battery and shows improved safety and stability.
Think about it: if you pierce a lithium-ion battery, a dangerous goo will seep out. That goo is flammable and can cause a ton of problems for the overall technology using that battery. A solid-state battery won’t have that same ooze, it has a higher energy density than a lithium-ion battery, and it doesn’t need safety components padding it and weighing down the car.
What you get, then, is a lighter battery that optimizes power in the best possible way. You’ll thus have longer ranges and shorter charge times—two things that everyone wants more of in their BEVs.
Bidirectional charging is just what it sounds like: charging that goes both ways. In a traditional charger, alternating current (AC) electricity is transformed into direct current (DC) electricity that can be used by the vehicle and stored in the car. Add the other direction, though, and you can transform the DC electricity stored in the battery into AC electricity that you can then use to power your house or charge your phone.
There are different kinds of bidirectional charging:
- Vehicle to Grid (V2G): Your car likely spends more time sitting around parked than it does on the road, right? V2G charging allows your car to charge during off-peak hours but then also give back to the electrical grid when there’s a surge in demand. It’ll do wonders to help stabilize the grid.
- Vehicle to Home (V2H): This is just what it sounds like; you can use your BEV to charge your home, which can in many ways reduce the strain placed on the grid. It’ll also come in handy during power outages.
Mass Production and Affordable Tech
Henry Ford was onto something when he introduced the automotive assembly line, and it’s that very concept that’s going to take EVs to the next level, especially in terms of affordability.
In 2019, 727,000 electric-drive vehicles were sold in the United States, with just under half of those vehicles being fully-electric BEVs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. By contrast, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported the sale of 17 million light-duty vehicles in 2019, which are the vehicles we generally use for personal means. Because of the low demand, EV production is still fairly low, which means faster methods of building the vehicles have yet to be introduced.
As more and more states push for lower carbon emissions, and as the U.S. government continues to mandate EVs for government use, we’ll start to see more EV manufacturing plants popping up. And when they stop being a niche purchase, you’ll start seeing prices drop, even without the benefit of federal and state tax credits.
And last but not least, the future of electric car technology lies in impressive infrastructure, which includes easily-accessible charging stations dotted throughout the country, as well as wireless charging. Yes; one day you’ll just be able to pull into an EV parking lot and start charging right away, without having to plug into any pesky charging port.