In La Tribune 06/10/2021
In Europe, EV market share doubled in 2019 and then doubled again in 2020. By country, at the end of the year it was 50% in Norway, 20% in Germany, 16% in the UK and 15% in France. With nearly 1.4 million electric cars sold in 2020, representing 8% of sales, the European market is the world leader, and it will double to 15% in 2021. In second place, China’s 400 automakers sold around 1.3 million electric vehicles on their domestic market. The United States lagged far behind with 350,000 units sold, and Japan peaked at 40,000 sales. In total, global sales are around 3 million vehicles, or 4% of the world market, but are expected to reach 30% in 2025 and 70% before 2040 as soon as the United States speeds up thanks to the Democrat “green deal”.
This turning point in favor of electricity is the global industrial event of 2020. It is of prime importance as the transportation sector develops structural ramifications in the metals and energy markets for several years in all global industries.
Numerous technical changes
As far as metals are concerned, many technical changes have already affected the lithium-ion battery industry, which equips electric cars. The oldest, those operating with Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt (NMC) cathodes for sedan and top end vehicles, have been modernized to reduce the proportion of cobalt in favor of nickel initially and then manganese in the future. However, they are gradually being replaced by lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathodes for city cars with a shorter range, which standard will be 400 km.
The battery market will balance 50% in favor of NMCs and 50% for LFPs. The latter technology already equips the Tesla 3S manufactured in Shanghai and exported to Europe in 2020, as well as the Han model of the Chinese BYD proposed in Europe in 2021. However, the beauty of the technical advances means that the autonomy of LFPs is constantly increasing to such an extent that the interest of this formula could surpass that of NMCs in sedan and top end cars. In addition, the LFP cocktail is safer, i.e. non-flammable, and about 30% cheaper than NMC, so that the production cost of the electric car will be at par with the thermal car within 12 months. On the anode side, progress is also extending the autonomy of batteries by replacing synthetic graphite with silicon, further strengthening the least expensive solution. It should also be remembered, once again, that batteries do not contain “rare earths”.
These statistics and facts therefore irrefutably refute the French maked fake news about “rare metals” which is opposed to green energy, which with the financing of a US oil lobby supports that electric car will never be a success, and which will have caused France to lose many jobs. The fake news is refuted by these truths about electric vehicles and batteries.
As far as energy is concerned, whatever the origin of the electricity used, the electric car emits less CO2 than the combustion engine. But since electricity called renewable will never be sufficient at time T, and 24 hours a day, to supply all our needs and the new consumption of electric mobility, more and more young engineers are supporting a revival of nuclear power.
It is the one and only source of carbon-free electricity that can meet the world’s growing electricity consumption, replacing coal and gas in particular. In France, these engineers support this energy, because they know that the 1,640,000 m3 of nuclear waste stored on our soil are for an immense part the nuclear fuel of tomorrow. Using this waste in a new circular nuclear economy embodied by fast neutron reactors (RNR) means that we will free ourselves from uranium mines. Burning this waste in RNRs means that it will disappear and storage will become obsolete. Consuming this waste means finally having a stock of energy in France capable of meeting 100% of our electricity needs for centuries, even millennia, thanks to clean, decarbonized electricity.
The accumulation of the advantages of the electric car propelled by electricity produced by the circular economy of nuclear power therefore had every chance of coming up against the interests of the pro-oil, coupled with those of the anti-nuclear. Quite logically, the result of these two currents crystallized first in the form of the movement of the anti-electric car armed with the “rare metals” fake news, and then in a second by the promotion of the hydrogen car. This last solution has all the attractions of a political miracle thanks to green energy, but all the defects of an environmental mistake since it will work in reality thanks to natural gas, not to mention its technical performance when we carefully observe its energy efficiency.
Happy New Year to the electric car that took off in 2020, and will fly high in 2021. Best wishes to the engineers and technicians, hoping that their brightness and progress will be stronger than the shadows around them.