Pike Research has issued a white paper entitled Electric Vehicles: 10 Predictions for 2013, that should make (mostly) cheerful reading for EV enthusiasts. Saying that “doubts about the long-term viability of the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market were put to rest” in 2012, Pike predicts “the industry will be racing ahead in second gear in 2013.” It notes that more than three dozen PEV models will debut in 2013, and predicts global sales of more than 210,000 vehicles.
The report also sounds a couple of cautionary notes, predicting that several startup EV companies are likely to be absorbed or disappear. Pike expects governments to phase out incentives for EV manufacturing and charging infrastructure, but believes that will actually produce a healthier, more mature industry.
The new Pike report listed 10 specific trends that will define the EV industry in 2013:
1. Capital Veers from Vehicles to Battery Components
Investment will shift toward developing battery components, rather than companies that develop complete packs. Chemical conglomerates will continue to invest heavily in R&D, as nano-scale components and activated carbon will be used to reach new plateaus of performance.
2. System Integration Puts Electric Bikes on the Map
The global e-bike market is predicted to grow by 10% to more than 33.6 million units in 2013.
3. 48-Volt Batteries Put a Charge into Stop-Start Systems
Automakers have been shifting subsystems from mechanical to electrical to make vehicles more fuel efficient, and in some cases this is more than 12-volt architectures can handle. Pike expects several automakers to design vehicles to take advantage of 48-volt batteries.
4. More than 3,400 Fuel Cell Vehicles Hit the Road
2013 will see the first low-volume production of fuel cell vehicles from Hyundai, Daimler, and Toyota, most of which will go to fleets and participants in public trials.
5. Battery Swapping Gives Way to Battery Financing
Bad news for Better Place – Pike expects its battery swapping concept to catch on only in specialized applications, such as taxis, and to “fade further into the rearview mirror” in 2013. On the other hand, the practice of leasing EV batteries separately from vehicles, as Renault does, is expected to grow.
6. Germany Leads Europe’s PEV Growth
The big German automakers will bring at least seven PEV models to market in 2013. Overall, Western Europe’s PEV market will grow to reach nearly 70,000 vehicles, and should account for 200,000 units annually beginning in 2014.
7. Coasting Technology Pushes Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles Closer to Hybrids
Stop-start technology, which enables an ICE vehicle’s engine to turn off when the brake is depressed, can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 10%. Pike expects this technology to be a center of discussion during 2013.
8. Slow versus Fast Charging Debate Intensifies
More drivers will use Level 1 chargers to charge overnight, and perhaps during the day at the workplace. A few new fast-charging networks, such as Tesla’s Superchargers, will “dot the landscape,” but most drivers will learn to depend on slower charging.
9. Europe Enables Driving Without Borders
Several European countries have projects underway to better manage public chargers, with the goal of having a billing and communication system in place by 2015 that will work across Europe. Pike notes that no such efforts have taken place in the US, as competing charging networks have yet to agree on standards for payments or customer identification.
10. The Natural Gas Glut Will Temper Interest in Plug-in Electric Trucks
The low price of natural gas means that the plug-in medium and heavy duty truck market will continue to languish. Pike predicts sales of natural gas trucks will grow to more than 47,000 vehicles in 2013, but expects electric truck sales to increase in 2014 when new fuel economy rules for trucks come into effect.