Email of the day on technological innovation
Comment of the Day

October 18 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on technological innovation

I continue to be amazed at the tremendous pace of technological advances in the EV and EV battery sector, including critical improvements in the time required to recharge, the longevity of the charge and the methods available to charge.  You may have already seen the following announcement as it is a few months old, and may well be aware of these developments. However, I have personally only just seen this article today, stating that China is in the process of building sections of a motorway that is electrically conductive and can recharge vehicles whilst continuing to drive at speeds up to 120km/hr (75mph).

Looking further into the process that enables such a development, apparently adding graphene to the concrete renders the road surface electrically conductive and enables it to recharge vehicles.

There is also a pilot road currently being tested in Sweden that charges specially designed vehicles from an electrified track in the surface of the road.  I dare to venture that the latest technology being utilised in China would already render obsolete the cumbersome Swedish system!

You often mention how the pace of technological developments influences markets and economies, however I am struggling to keep up with so many new developments in the various sectors. 

Eoin Treacy's view

Thank you for this email and the attached links. I certainly sympathise with the feeling of occasionally being overwhelmed by the pace of innovation but if we focus on enabling technologies as a first principle exercise I don’t think we will go far wrong.

China had a major problem last winter with electric vehicles underperforming in frigid conditions. In Beijing it was apparently a relatively common occurrence to see cars stuck on the on-ramps because they did not have the charge necessary to push up the incline. So, better charging infrastructure and better batteries are required to tackle the issue of cars with small batteries having trouble in very cold conditions.

Battery energy density has been doubling about every four and half years and there is a lot of capital flowing to the sector today because the prize a doubling from current levels will remove a lot of the arguments about range and worry about charging. Then the argument comes down to price and manufacturing scale. A great deal of battery manufacturing infrastructure is under construction right now but it will be another few years because that supply reaches market. That is why so many car brands have listed dates like 2020 and 2022 are when they will release scores of new electric vehicles.

Graphene has incredible promise to revolutionise the materials industry but I have doubts whether conductive roads are going to be a more effective answer to the transportation sector’s energy demands than battery innovation.

Back to top

You need to be logged in to comment.

New members registration