This week, we report on a warning from the CEO of Siemens on the impact on automotive jobs from the transition from the internal combustion engine (ICE’s) to electric vehicles (EV’s). A number of related stories from automakers upping their commitment to electric vehicles (EV’s) and another potential breakthrough in battery technology. We also discuss plans underway to re-use the millions of batteries that will come off cars in a variety of thoughtful and interesting ways.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Siemens Global Chief Executive, Joe Kaeser, has called the transition from ICE’s to EV’s “one of the single most important transformations of all time”. Calling on automakers to manage that transition responsibly, Kaeser warned that up to a third of automotive jobs could be lost in the short run; with many fewer parts in an EV (particularly from the engine and transmission), “if you have 20-30 less value chain, then … you have 20%-30% fewer jobs.” As with prior industrial revolutions, the ultimate impact will be to create greater growth and more jobs but governments and industry leaders will need to establish programs to retrain workers for the new economy or risk social disruption. The Guardian ("Businesses must address impact of next industrial revolution, says Siemens boss".)
BMW Ups the Stakes on EV’s: Over the past few months, a number of automakers have announced increased investment in EV’s. Two weeks ago, Jaguar announced it had increased its investment in EV’s to $18 billion. Now BMW has announced that it believes EV’s will account for 25% of its sales by 2025. Reporting that EV sales are up 46% at the car maker from last year, BMW has announced it will be launching 25 new EV models over the next seven years. The EV’s will all share its 5th generation architecture for EV sedans, SUV’s and hatchbacks. CarBuzz ("BMW Records Huge Increase in Electrified Car Sales".) Tesla has had the luxury EV market to itself, but as other car makers ramp up their offerings, PA Consulting predicts that by 2021, Tesla will have fallen to seventh place with Daimler taking the lead. Bloomberg ("German Electric Cars Could Catch Up With Tesla in Just a Few Years".) And to wrap up BMW related news, it announced the launch of the all-electric Mini for 2019. CarBuzz ("The Electric Mini Is Coming Next Year".)
More Battery News: We have discussed the enormous investments made in developing better batteries for everything from cell phones to EV’s. The University of Maryland, in a joint project with the Brookhaven National Lab, has announced a breakthrough using iron trifluoride as the material for the battery cathode. Without getting into the science, they claim that they are able to generate 2-3 times the energy density of a current Lithium Ion battery. Green Car Reports ("Iron trifluoride could make better electric-car batteries".)
But What to Do With All These Batteries?: The industry is starting to consider what to do with all the batteries once future EV’s reach the end of their life? While a battery may no longer be useful to power an EV, it is still able to provide power for another 7-10 years. A number of automakers (who are ultimately on the hook for these batteries) are working on projects to combine these batteries to provide backup power to the grid and provide power storage for renewables like solar and wind generation. Bloomberg estimates that this may become a more than $500 billion business by 2050. Bloomberg Business Week ("Where 3 Million Electric Vehicle Batteries Will Go When They Retire".)