Innovations that Will Transform Electric Vehicle Efficiency in the Next Decade

Reader Contribution by Haden Kirkpatrick and Esurance
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Electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way in the past 10 years. They’ve gone from niche to mainstream within the market and on the streets — and it doesn’t look like EV sales are slowing down anytime soon. More and more consumers and companies have invested not only in the vehicles themselves, but also in the infrastructure it takes to run them. With advancements in technology, owning an EV is cheaper, easier and more accessible than ever before. 

Over the next 10 years, it’s likely that innovations in charging, battery technology and ridesharing will increase and provide new advances for these eco-friendly vehicles. 

More Power Availability and Longer Ranges Make for Easier Driving

In most places in the U.S., it’s now easy to access charging for longer-range EVs. In fact, it’s possible to drive coast to coast on electric power alone, making “range anxiety” a thing of the past.

The Tesla charging network is a well-known piece of infrastructure in the EV world, but it isn’t the only one. GM and Volkswagen are starting to invest in charging networks as well. Increased access to charging means that one of the biggest fears around EVs is one step closer to extinction. 

Advances in technology could also make it easier to charge. BMW announced this May that they would start adding a wireless charging option on their 530e iPerformance PHEV. With this wireless system, you could essentially drive onto a pad and let your car charge through induction. If this technology works as predicted, it could open up copious possibilities and locations for charging, from roads to parking garages.

In fact, some of that is already in the works. The Swedish Transport Administration created a road that could charge an EV while driving, called eRoad Arlanda. This road works through conduction, providing power to the vehicle even while in motion. 

Designs suited better to the needs of an electric drivetrain are also helping to increase the range and efficiency of EVs. With weight reduction and aerodynamic optimization, it’s easier than ever to drive longer ranges. For every 10 percent that drag is reduced by aerodynamics, the car’s range can increase by 5 percent.

Lower Costs Lead to Greater Accessibility 

Over time, electric vehicles have become less expensive. There are a few reasons for this. One reason is the simple economics of supply and demand. Competition has brought down the prices of these vehicles, which were once out of the price range of the average car buyer. Options like the Chevrolet Bolt (which has an impressive 238-mile range, longer than the range of the standard Tesla) and the Nissan Leaf have reasonable price tags attached. By now, there are also more pre-owned options on the market. 

Another factor in the drop in EV costs is lower battery costs. Batteries are the most expensive parts of these vehicles, but the prices are being driven down by advances in technology and also by investments by auto manufacturers as they start to make their own batteries. 

Daimler has opened a factory in Europe for self-sufficient battery production, and Tesla’s Gigafactory has driven down their battery prices significantly as well. As more and more car brands cut out the middleman on battery production, the prices of the most expensive component will drop. Then, competition will continue to make these cars even more affordable. 

It’s a New Era for Cars

Many consumers have come to see the detrimental effect that driving a gasoline-powered car has on the environment. With no tailpipe emissions, an EV doesn’t directly contribute the same air pollution that an internal combustion engine would. Because of this, drivers have begun making the switch to electric. 

Others have decided to give up car ownership altogether, opting for ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft rather than owning or leasing a vehicle—and as predicted in a recent Esurance report, this trend will only continue in the future. Because of that, there’s been a greater interest in making those services sustainable and cost-effective. Driverless cars are a key to doing this. Many of these driverless cars have been created using an EV as a platform. If ridesharing companies plan to go driverless, there’s a good chance that they’ll also be going electric in the process.

Then, there’s the changing overall opinion on EVs. Many thought their batteries to be unreliable, but they’ve actually got fewer moving parts that can malfunction, and there’s less routine maintenance required. There also used to be an unfounded stereotype that EVs weren’t good for performance and had sluggish acceleration. It seems that cars like the BMW i8 and the Tesla Roadster are kicking that stereotype to the curb, as EVs actually have more torque and better acceleration than most internal combustion cars. More and more people are coming to understand how electric cars truly work and seeing the benefits of owning them. 

There’s no doubt that EVs have a place on our future roads. As more investments are made in both these vehicles and the clean, sustainable power grids to run them, there’s a better chance they can have a huge impact on the environment. As individuals and businesses start to see the advantages of driving on electric, more and more innovations will come with the demand. 

Haden Kirkpatrick is the head of marketing strategy and innovation at Esurance. Haden is an innovator who is constantly thinking about how IoT, electric vehicles and machine learning will impact the auto insurance industry. You can learn more about Esurance’s car insurance options on their website.

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