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Pike Research makes 10 electric vehicle predictions for 2013

Sales of plug-in vehicles (PEVs) in 2013 will continue to outpace the first years of hybrid vehicle sales as more than 210,000 PEVs will be sold globally and more than three dozen PEV models will debut, according to a year-end free whitepaper published by Pike Research, that makes 10 specific predictions about electric vehicles in 2013.

More broadly, Pike envisions PEV sales in California—the leading market for such in the US—expanding into smaller urban and suburban regions with more dealers beginning to offer the vehicles. Pike also anticipates forward momentum with PEVs in China. The research company also projects that several startup electric vehicle (EV) companies are likely to be absorbed or discontinue operations during the year. Within that context of accelerating sales growth, the 10 specific predictions are:

  1. Capital veers from vehicles to battery components. Private funding for EV companies looking to start a business or expand in 2013 has largely dried up, Pike notes. The lack of funding opportunities will force some companies to exit the market or be acquired on less than generous terms.

    During 2013, investment will shift toward companies developing battery components, rather than companies that develop complete packs. For 2013, chemical conglomerates, such as Dow Energy Materials and BASF, will continue to invest heavily in anode, cathode, and electrolyte material research and development (R&D). Established players will face increasing competition from smaller companies and the recent startups.

    The EV battery industry continues to await commercially viable breakthroughs in energy and power density that could lead to a new level of performance. Nano-scale components and activated carbon will be among the more popular technologies in 2013, and will be used to raise additional funding and tout new plateaus of performance.

  2. E-bikes surge. Sales of e-bikes in North America will grow by more than 50% in 2013 to more than 158,000 bikes, Pike forecasts. Globally, the e-bike market will grow by 10% to more than 33.6 million units during that year.

  3. 48-Volt batteries. Several battery manufacturers including AllCell Technologies, Balqon, and Saft are stepping up with 48-volt lead-acid and Li-ion offerings for increasingly power-hungry vehicles with Stop-Start systems. These higher power batteries will last longer and allow the hotel load systems, such as heating and cooling, to continue to operate when the engine is off without causing the all-too-familiar phenomenon of the headlights dimming due to insufficient power. These higher power batteries are also being introduced in electric bicycles, which should enable battery manufacturers to reduce manufacturing costs by producing in greater volumes.

    Noting that higher voltage (42V) batteries were tried—and failed—more than a decade ago, Pike said that at that time, converting all onboard electronics to the higher voltage was viewed as impractical, and the cost of DC-to-DC converters was prohibitive. Since then, the cost has come down and reliability of converters has improved. Pike Research expects several automakers to design vehicles to take advantage of 48-volt batteries.

  4. More than 3,400 Fuel Cell Vehicles on the road. The minority of automakers that have been investing more in fuel cell than in plug-in technology have responded to slower than anticipated PEV sales by reaffirming their commitment to commercializing fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), Pike says. Pike Research projects that 3,442 FCVs will ship in 2013 from vendors that include Toyota, Daimler, Hyundai, and Honda.

    The majority of these vehicles will not reach consumers’ hands, but will be deployed through agreements with fleets and made available to qualified participants in public trials.

  5. Battery swapping gives way to battery financing. Battery swapping pioneer Better Place, which saw key executives leave in 2012, has failed to capture the expected number of subscribers to its EV service in the initial launch market of Israel and borrowed money to continue the expensive build-out of battery swap stations in Denmark. So far, only Renault has designed its vehicle to be compatible with Better Place’s battery swapping technology.

    The concept of battery swapping “will fade further into the rearview mirror in 2013,” Pike predicts.

    More companies are likely to follow the lead of Renault and lease the batteries separately, Pike suggests. A lease option reduces the upfront cost of the vehicle, while also reducing the uncertainty of real-world battery performance. Corporations are much better equipped to repurpose end-of-life EV batteries than individuals and will be able to sell into the growing market for grid energy storage. Battery leasing has also been adopted by Mia Electric and Daimler in Europe, and will begin to spread to Asia Pacific and North America by the end of 2013.

  6. Germany leads Europe’s PEV growth. Like other regions of the world, the European PEV market has developed more slowly than expected, Pike acknowledges. But in 2013, the largest German automakers will come to market with at least seven models that will energize sales throughout the continent.

    Volkswagen will offer two VW-branded plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) and two BEVs, while the company’s Audi division will launch two e-tron PHEVs. BMW will begin to sell its long awaited BEV (the i3). The arrival of these vehicles will help the German PEV market more than double in 2013 to reach nearly 14,000 vehicles. Overall, Western Europe’s PEV market will grow at a similar rate to reach nearly 70,000 vehicles, with Germany representing the largest single market.

  7. Coasting technology pushes internal combustion engine vehicles closer to hybrids. Stop-start technology enables an ICE vehicle’s engine to turn off when the brake is depressed and the car slows to a stop. That same concept is extending to enable an engine to be shut off when going downhill or at other times when the driver’s foot comes off the accelerator, and then restarted as necessary—i.e., coasting technology.

    According to early results from companies including Audi and BMW, coasting technology can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 10%. Coasting can be integrated with cruise control systems to further optimize fuel usage. Similar to stop-start systems upon which the technology builds, a more powerful starter-motor and battery pack are required, but the substantial fuel savings will more than justify the added cost, Pike suggests.

    Despite some challenges and liability issues, this technology will be the center of frequent discussion during 2013, Pike predicts.

  8. Slow versus fast charging debate intensifies. 2013 will see a greater diversity of charging rates as the lines between fast and slow charging begin to blur and more host sites opt for less expensive Level 1 charging equipment, Pike predicts.

    Workplace and home charging will likely deem Level 1 charging fully adequate. During 2013, the mid-range of charging speeds (between 7 kW and 50 kW) will become occupied in the United States by faster Level 2 chargers that can produce AC power at up to 18 kW (where the infrastructure supports higher power) and with lower power DC chargers. In Europe, 22.7 kW chargers are already growing in popularity, and Renault is pushing 43 kW charging.

    Despite the evolution of charging equipment, some EV enthusiasts will continue to argue that EVs will only grow in demand if supported by large networks of fast DC chargers, and a few new fast-charging networks, such as Tesla Motor’s Superchargers, will dot the landscape in 2013, Pike forecasts. However, that viewpoint will be increasingly hard to validate as more PEV drivers learn to depend on slower charging.

  9. Europe enables driving without borders. Enabling PEV owners to reach their destination without worrying about being stranded far from a convenient location to charge requires not only a network of AC and DC charging stations at strategic locations to enable mobility, but also a communications infrastructure that guides drivers to charging locations and a seamless payment system for charging services (i.e., roaming).

    Europe will show the greatest progress in simplifying PEV driving in 2013; if the European e-Mobility model proves successful in promoting the adoption and use of PEVs, their American counterparts are likely to at least begin the conversation about a national system later in the year.

  10. The natural gas glut will tamper interest in plug-in electric trucks. Due to extensive discoveries of shale natural gas reserves across the globe during the past few years, the price of natural gas has dipped, while fuel production has expanded rapidly. This has resulted in increasing interest in manufacturing and purchasing natural gas trucks, which will deter interest in purchasing plug-in electric trucks or in manufacturers launching new models in 2013.

    Sales of natural gas trucks will grow to more than 47,000 vehicles sold in 2013.



"Coasting technology ... to enable an engine to be shut off when going downhill or at other times when the driver’s foot comes off the accelerator, and then restarted as necessary."

De-clutching the Torque Converter (TC) when decelerating has been common for over 10 years.

Fuel shut-off when decelerating is also now common.

And these DO adversely affect percieved smoothness as the TC clutch must be re-engaged and then fuel re-introduced as the car slows down.

Also, a small displacement ICE (especially if turbocharged) provides almost NO braking in high gear so the transmissions must often be automatically down shifted with continued braking downhill.

How much more so will complex techniques be required to minimize the perceived irregularities when the engine is fully disengaged and allowed to stop.


In 1994, the Ford Taurus SHO de-clutched the torque converter when coasting.

In 2004, the Volkswagen Passat did not.


In addition to, or instead of shutting down the engine during coast down they could just shut fuel off, de-clutch the torque converter (they already do both) and open the throttle wide to reduce engine braking.

Smooth recoveries (which are still an issue, I assume) might not be very graceful with the engine stopping and starting.

If the driver is coasting down with his foot modulating the throttle, when is the engine stopped and will it be re-started at the least pressure by his foot? Turning fuel on and off, clutching the TC and re-setting the throttle, seems much easier to blend quickly.


Actually, WOT pumps more air through the engine and increases the losses to exhaust back pressure compared to closed throttle.  (Maximum engine braking is at some intermediate throttle setting.)


I believe that since a Diesel operates at "WOT" and has lower pumping losses than an ICE, your claim is suspect.

But also, WOT at low rpm pumps very little (cold) air through the engine with even lower losses to exhaust back pressure.


What are the safety implications for moving to 48 volt batteries?

Perhaps engineers here would throw some light on this?
In my naivete I had assumed that more volts equals more danger.


Diesel has lower pumping losses than Otto-cycle when operating at part throttle (which is most of the time).  We're talking about power to turn the engine in fuel-cutoff, a very different case.


Good news for BEV's future batteries. Quebec Lithium Mining has started to extract lithium carbonate at the rate of 20,000 tonnes/year at their North West Quebec mine containing about 12,000,000 tonnes of lithium mineral. The largest customer is a Chinese firm buying 66+% of the production for the next 10+ years.

Up to six similar mines could open in the next five to 10 years or so if the market for lithium carbonate is there and the price is right.


Diesel has lower pumping losses than Otto-cycle when operating at all throttle positions except WOT.

We're talking about power to turn the engine at medium to low RPM, in fuel-cutoff (cold, low mass flow exhaust), a case where a closed throttle has throttling losses but, with WOT or closed, there is virtually NO back pressure.

There is not much danger at 48V. Danger from fire might be a little greater, with the higher voltage.

But 48V is not very dangerous to people directly - 36-48 is where you might start feeling it.

I think safety standards do not apply until about 50v.

The advantages of higher voltage are lower line (wire) losses and/or lighter (smaller gage) wire and switches; higher voltage means less current for the same power.

BEV dangers arise, I believe, from the necessary high power and energy involved.


The step from 6 volt to 12 volt to 24 volt electrical systems in vehicles was driven by power demands; as wires got too fat and switch contacts too big to be easily managed, the voltage went up to bring them down to size again.  It should be no surprise that the new loads such as electric power steering and electric A/C have made it cost-effective to jump to 48 volts.

It is true that both WOT and closed throttle are local minimae for motoring engine torque, but there's more (not a lot, but more) exhaust BP at WOT.  Maximum braking with ignition off is at some degree of manifold vacuum.  The '04 VW diesels had rather strong engine braking despite having no throttle plates.


Maximum braking with fuel off is with closed throttle which is maximum manifold vacuum; the piston descends with a vacuum above it on both the intake and expansion strokes and ascends with a vacuum above it for only the compression stroke.

Some Diesels have exhaust throttles as a replacement for the "Jake brake".

The "Jake brake" opened the exhaust valves at the end of the compression stroke - often by using the fuel injection cam; quite effective but generally outlawed now because of the ear spitting, machine gun racket they made.

Maximum braking with fuel off is with closed throttle which is maximum manifold vacuum; the piston descends with a vacuum above it on both the intake and expansion strokes and ascends with a vacuum above it for only the compression stroke.
No it's not; maximum engine braking with fuel cutoff is at partial throttle.  I've both done the thermodynamic analysis and verified it by experiment.  Energy/mass is highest at closed throttle, but power equals energy/mass * mass flow.

I hear diesels using what is obviously some kind of compression brake (exhaust throttles mute the engine note when on) but they don't have the machine-gun stacatto of the original Jake Brake.  Maybe they have gone to minimal valve openings to cut the impulse amplitude.

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