I’ve just read that the Portuguese bought 756 (+17%) full electric vehicles during 2016 (mostly Nissan Leafs). That might seem a small number — as it is just 0,36% of the market — but it is a good clear sign of the future. Electric is both cheap and clean and with the arrival of the 300+Km cars in 2017 I imagine that many will start looking at them with greater curiosity. I’m really curious to see how the introduction of the 41Kwh Renault Zoe, the Opel Ampera-e and the Hyundai Ioniq will impact these numbers during this year.
Can the Future Faraday FF91† be it? One of my recent interests is Electric Cars. It is my belief that the combustion engine is going the way of the dodo. Personally I need to replace my almost 20 year old Rover in the next couple of years.
The recent announcement of the Faraday Future FF91 is a testament to the momentum the industry is having (even if the car will only sell in 2018, and only in the US and China). But the FF91 also shows another aspect of this industry. The need for very aerodynamic shapes is making really, really, really ugly cars (Leaf?, Ioniq?).
The electric car cannot be a reason-engineering product alone. Not in XXI century when car companies will charge a lot for these products. Electric cars also need to capture passions. They need to be the Millennium Falcon of the automobile industry. Something that gets car nerds excited and doesn’t capture the interest of eco-zealots.
Right now companies are approaching this lack of oomph via the performance route. The Future Faraday FF91 goes 0–60mph in 2.39 seconds. Tesla is doing the same thing (although their cars are nicer because they first solved the pizazz issue by borrowing a lotus chassis for the Roadster). Future Faraday FF91 design is… well, it looks like a Rhino (another endangered species). But this doesn’t make them desirable to petrol heads (yet). And the fault lies on the long history of the combustion engine. The noise, the smells, the macho attributes petrol cars convey that many EVs still lack.
The near future of Electric Vehicles
I see the future of traditional car makers and new EV-only car companies converging. The latter will end up absorbed by the former. But by that time we’ll be all better served by electric cars than we were by combustion engine cars. And we’ll be happier and healthier too.
If now is not the time to buy an electric car, some might say, then now is not the time to buy a petrol car either. The two things are decoupled and buying a combustion engine car is one of the dumbest decisions one could make in 2017. 2020 is going to see cities blocking city center access to combustion engine cars (Paris for example). And you don’t want to be A-hole that got a new expensive artefact of automotive industry.
Now is the time to be patient if you weigh all the pros and cons. My Rover will need to hold off its retirement. If you are an early adopter, well, then you already drive a Leaf don’t you?
†I know that it is Faraday Future, but honestly, the car will be released so far in the Future that Future Faraday seems appropriate.
I’ve been a bit sceptic about electric cars getting massive adoption in the next few years because of the battery technology. I believe that you’ll need at least a 10 fold increase in capacity per litter and cost before you’ll see massive adoption of the electric car. And politicians forcing electric cars on us won’t work either.
If you look at the electric car, the limiting factor — or the critical factor if you prefer — is the power source. How to store and charge the batteries. Until now, if you really wanted to be a good boy scout, as an early adopter you would be waiting at least 30 minutes for a 80% charge. This is not going to cut it in a world where fueling takes 2 minutes at the petrol station.
Now, researchers at UCLA announced that they developed a new kind of battery. It is made of Graphene. And it charges much faster than anything previously invented. The technology would allow a MacBook Pro to charge in just 30 second. AMAZING.
Graphene batteries are just around the corner. They are more powerful, charge faster, and hopefully are stable enough to enter mass production. Graphene is the wonder material of the XXI century. Graphene is a honeycomb lattice structure of carbon atoms bond together. It is like a sheet of carbon atoms. When graphene is then added to the electrodes of batteries it improves their functioning, because of its structural properties, density and electrical conductivity.
Now they’ve made this announcement and are basically looking for funding. I haven’t read the publications they produced, and this might end up being an hoax. Or, due to some technical impossibility impossible to market. They naturally sell it beautifully and being all marvels in the elevator pitch but globally there are many hurdles before such a wonderful super-capacitor could be in the market.