From hero to zero? Trade show eCarTec unveils uncertainty of the e-mobility industry

Just a few days ago eCarTec, the leading trade show for e-mobility, took place in Munich for the fourth time.  Although officially over 500 exhibitors presented their ideas to the public it became obvious that the industry is already in a period of consolidation. However, this is not really surprising. The last couple of years have been dominated by overwhelming euphoria. As a result of the hype even the most awkward and utopian ideas have been promoted to the public and sometimes people forgot to re-focus on the really essential developments and basics. Now we see the strike back: several companies and many media start to predict the end of the electric car.

Although we haven´t presented Point.One at this year`s eCarTec  we went to the show to meet partners and prospects – and of course  to get a better idea about the current situation of the industry. Our trip to Munich encourages us to join Paul Watzlawick´s famous quote “The situation is hopeless, but not serious”. And if you are more into sports, maybe you´d prefer the most popular phrase of any football coach “We have no chance, so we will take it.”

The end of the hype is the beginning of the comeback

Seriously … the hype of e-mobility is definitely over, but necessarily that does not have to be the end. The anticlimax can be a good foundation for a realistic and promising re-start. In that context people should not give to much about the government´s goal to get 1 million electric vehicles on German streets by 2020. Neither should we bother about the lobby groups demanding subsidies from the state to encourage people to buy e-cars.

ecartec 2012

A very special booth at eCarTec

Let´s have a look at the things that really matter: proper innovations and real developments that meet peoples demand. And yes, some of them could be found at eCarTec 2013.

The drive train itself is not the bottleneck.  Especially the limited range, the continuing high prices for vehicles and the lack of charging facilities keep the consumers away. Today´s e-mobility is not ready for anything beyond urban traffic and short distance commuting. Having said the researchers are still improving the Lithium-Polymer storage battery and come up with efficient versions of the Lithium-Sulfur storage battery that extends the range of a car to approximately 300 km – which is a huge step towards suitability for daily use.

Solving the heating problem

Not less interesting are the solutions for the heating problem – because most electric cars suffered from a massive lack of range when the drivers turned on  heating. Now Webasto presented its “High Voltage Heating” at eCarTec 2013. The heating is integrated with the cooling loop and gets contacted by high voltage connectors. A recuperator utilizes the energy to generate warm air which then gets transported to the driver by the cooling loop. 

Combined Charging System – our highlight

There has also been exciting news regarding charging technologies: especially the Combined Charging System. This all-purpose charging system combines one-phase charging with alternation current charging, fast alternation current charging, slow charging at home and ultra fast charging at an public charging station … and requires just one al-purpose port at the vehicle. The system was presented at the ABB booth at eCarTec and enables the users to charge their cars at any charging station with any kind of speed at all kinds of energy sources – in theory up to 100 kW. This new standard can become a very important forerunner for e-mobility. We are quite confident that in the near future there will be an exciting project demonstrating that the standard is absolutely suitable for daily use.

combined charging system

ABB shows the combined charging system

The omen is …

still positive. Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done. No doubt about that. But looking at the latest progress regarding charging systems which are crucial to us, being a vendor of solar charging stations, there are reasons to be optimistic.

On the other hand the vendors of charging stations really have to reconsider their strategy regarding design and the inclusion of the latest information and telecommunications technologies. Especially in this aspect the show didn´t really give a good impression and creative outlook. However, we are very confident that in the near future there will be huge improvements and when the “e-mobility blues” is over people will realize that we have already come a long way and that it just still takes some more steps to reach the finish line.

  1. Sass Peress says:

    Most of the time your blogs have very solid foundation, yet in this case, I believe you have overlooked one fundamental success in emobility that cannot be ignored…the use of emobility as a supplementary propulsion technology as opposed to an exclusive one.

    The blues is surely felt by those who had elitist goals of creating infrastructure which was far too expensive and not of value to organizations of any stripe. Yet with one of the largest solar powered EV stations in America just recently built by renewz in Toronto, the announcements by BMW and Cadillac confirming launch of their emobility solutions in 2013 and many other developments which are more than nice words or pictures, all of these stand as a clear “blue sky” in contrast to your conclusion about the industry sentiment at the moment. Sorry to be so oblique about your post, yet I suspect it may be more about the conclusions you have reached for your own business strategy than about an industry which naturally consolidates as the “big boys” take control.

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