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Electric cars: What to expect in 2013

A New Year is fast approaching and it promises to be an exciting time for electric vehicles, according to Pike Research.

The company has made 10 electric vehicle predictions for 2013, including that sales of plug-in vehicles in 2013 will continue to surpass those of the first years of hybrid vehicles with around 210,000 PEVs to be sold globally while three dozen new models will make their debut.

Let’s take a look at the 10 electric car predictions for 2013:

- Capital push for battery components: Private funding for electric vehicle companies has largely dried up and this may force some companies out of the market. However, Pike Research is suggesting that in 2013 investment will veer towards companies developing battery components with the likes of BASF and Dow Energy Materials to invest heavily in cathode, anode and electrolyte material research. The electric vehicle battery market is still hoping to achieve the commercially viable breakthroughs that will take the technology to a new level.E-Scooter

- Surge for e-bikes: Sales of e-bikes (pictured left) in North America are set to expand by more than 50 per cent during 2013 to reach around 158,000 bikes; while globally the market will grow by 10 per cent.

- 48Volt batteries: The likes of Saft, Balqon and AllCell Technologies are stepping up with both 48Volt lead-acid and lithium-ion battery offerings for vehicles with stop-start systems. They have the potential to last longer and allow load systems to operate when the engine is off.

- Fuel cell vehicle numbers to increase: Though only a small minority of automakers have been investing more heavily in fuel cells than plug-in technology, Pike Research suggests that the likes of Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Daimler will ship 3,442 fuel cell vehicles during 2013.

- Battery swap systems to fade: The Better Place battery swap initiative was once seen as a major solution for electric car recharging, but according to Pike it will “fade into the rear-view mirror during 2013”. So far only Renault has developed a vehicle compatible with Better Place’s battery swap technology.

- Germany to take the lead: According to Pike, Germany will lead the European PEV market with its largest automakers producing at least seven models that will energise sales. This will include two VW-branded plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and two electric cars; two Audi e-tron plug-in hybrid electric vehicles; and BMW will begin sales of its long-awaited BMW i3 (pictured below). BMW i3

- Coasting ahead: Stop-start technology allows a vehicle’s engine to be turned off when the brake is depressed and the car slows to a stop: and this is extending to coasting downhill. Potentially this could reduce fuel consumption by around 10 per cent with Audi and BMW among the lead proponents of the technology: bringing internal combustion engine vehicles closer in fuel savings to hybrid cars.

- Slow or fast: There is expected to be a greater diversity in charging rates during 2013 as the line between slow and fast charging starts to blur. It is expected that more host sites will opt for the less expensive level one equipment and during 2013 the mid-range of charge speeds will be occupied by faster level two chargers. Meanwhile, many enthusiasts will continue to argue that electric cars will only take off with fast DC chargers.

- Driving without borders: According to Pike, Europe will attempt to simplify plug-in vehicle driving during 2013 with the European e-mobility programme helping to create a communications infrastructure that will guide drivers to charging locations and seamless payment systems.

- Natural gas to grow: The sales of natural gas vehicles are set to expand to more than 47,000 during 2013: hurting interest in plug-in electric trucks. This will be prompted by large discoveries of shale natural gas reserves and the price of natural gas falling around the globe.

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Paul Lucas

Filed under: Latest News, Green Cars, Electric cars

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