Not just electric cars: these are the powertrains of the future

A blind focus on just one type of drive inevitably leads to a dead end. This is the result of a study by the VDE electrical engineering association. The targeted use of battery electric vehicles, fuel cell drives and e-fuels increasingly seems to be the best way forward.

Which form of propulsion will dominate mobility after the year 2030?? let’s use only battery electric powered vehicles in the future? What about fuel cells?? What about synthetic fuels? This question has been occupying the strategists and futurologists of automotive manufacturers for some time now. After all, this technological orientation may well determine the fate of an automotive group and thus of many thousands of jobs. Back the wrong horse and you’ll find yourself in massive economic trouble – at best.

studies on germany’s future

Since glass bullets are currently out of stock, studies are a good guide for decision-makers to minimize the risk of a business blunder. The VDE (Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies e.V.) has now taken a holistic approach to this issue and poses the following questions. What expectations do politicians and industry have of the drive technologies of the future, and do they share the same view?? How can germany keep up with competition from the u.s. as well as china in technology to secure jobs while ensuring a consensus among the population??

The test laboratory of the Scandinavian battery cell start-up Northvolt is ready

Battery, fuel cell and e-fuels

The result of the study is clear: only with an intelligent, technology-open mix of all available climate-neutral drive technologies – battery, fuel cell and e-fuels – can the EU’s ambitious climate goal of "zero emission" be achieved will be met. In other words, from 2030 onward, cars will mainly be battery-powered, while commercial freight and heavy-duty vehicles will be powered by a mix of battery and fuel cells. So for long distances with fuel cells, and for urban or local delivery traffic, battery electric. Synthetic fuels, known as e-fuels, are suitable for powering sporty cars, existing vehicles, and classic cars. Finally, in december 2019, the eU commission set the green deal target of making the eU carbon-neutral by 2050. "individual and mass transit must be and remain comfortable and affordable", demands dr. Ralf petri, head of the mobility division at VDE.

Porsche taycan cross turismo turbo S in the test: this is how good the e-combi is

Not just electric cars: these are the powertrains of the future

In the field of e-fuels, porsche is driving development forward together with siemens and other partners. the haru oni project in the province of magallanes is taking advantage of the excellent wind conditions in southern chile to produce climate-neutral fuel with the help of green wind power. In 2022, for example, around 130.000 liters of synthetic fuel produced. In two steps, capacity is to be increased to around 55 million liters per year by 2024 and to around 550 million liters per year by 2026. However, the recognition of synthetic fuels by the EU for reducing the CO2 fleet balance is still a point of contention. Especially since the production of these fuels is very costly in terms of energy. For this reason, systems powered by renewable energies are essential for this project.

Topic: Charging infrastructure

If you take a closer look at the study results, representatives from politics and industry agree that battery-powered electric cars are the future alternative to vehicles with internal combustion engines. However, the charging infrastructure is still the eye of the needle through which electromobility must pass. At the moment, there is still a lot wrong with this area. Recently, a survey by the market research company uscale showed that one in five drivers of an electric car is dissatisfied with the charging infrastructure, and six percent are even "very dissatisfied". It is therefore hardly surprising that the respondents from politics and industry expect charging capacity bottlenecks in the future as the number of e-vehicles increases. "you can only achieve a high level of acceptance among the population if you have an optimal density of charging infrastructure," says ralf petri.

Charging station

The combination of battery and hydrogen

Today, heavy goods vehicles account for around one-third of the CO2 emissions of the entire transport sector. And this is precisely where the fuel cell comes into play. Provided it is green hydrogen obtained from renewable energies. But here, too, the infrastructure will play a decisive role in determining whether this form of propulsion will become established. Here, start-ups like cryomotive are already working on solutions. For dr. Tobias brunner, CEO of cryomotive, no way around hydrogen. "we don’t have enough electricity for all the battery vehicles. We need the combination of battery and hydrogen to decarbonize transport. One alone is not enough," the technician explains his approach. For large trucks in particular, hydrogen is expected to play its trump cards as an energy source from 2030 at the latest. cryomotive plans to put the first prototypes on the road starting in 2023.

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It seems clear that a one-sided focus on one type of drive will end in a dead end, as will ignoring the needs and wishes of car drivers and other buyers. "the implementation of the reduction of energy consumption by around 40 percent in the transport sector by 2050, as envisaged in the energy concept, can only be achieved if all the gears mesh smoothly. Starting with the production of energy sources, through the manufacturing of vehicles, to the development of a sustainable infrastructure and a new awareness of mobility among the population.", ralf petri summarizes.

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