Electric car proponents keep insisting that breakthroughs in electric car battery technology are just around the corner, and that soon electric cars will no longer be hampered by limited range and long charging times. Thus we should start banning internal combustion cars soon.
Leading experts, on the other hand, are far less optimistic about the prospects of battery powered vehicles. For example, the online Badische Neueste Nachrichten (BNN) here presents an interview with Prof. Albert Albers, Director for Product Development at the German Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT), where he researches vehicle and machinery drive systems.
Too much green populism
Albers says he is annoyed by media and policymakers who insist electric batteries are feasible, and who cite “phony experts” who do not know the subject material very well. The result he tells the BNN:
For this reason the citizens instead get too few facts and too many populist opinions.”
Battery’s huge ecological fingerprint
On the subject of electric cars and batteries, he notes that the ecological fingerprint of an e-car with battery “is not so good at all“, reminding readers that after everything gets calculated, “the ecological expenditure is 60 percent higher than that of a combustion engine auto.”
According to Albers, the driver first has to run the vehicle 80,000 km before it catches up to the internal combustion engine, a point where the lifetime of the battery is pretty much exhausted, he says.
No manufacture today is ready to guarantee a battery for 200,000 km (10 years) which is what is normal for regular combustion engines.”
Pleads for a return to sobriety
On the future for electric mobility, Albers pleads for a return to sobriety, saying that by 2030 there’s going to be “significantly more internal combustion vehicles on the roads than today”, and that for this reason “it is highly dangerous when policymakers villainize a technology.”
Despite all the anti-diesel rhetoric now being loudly expressed in Germany, Albers thinks the diesel engine still has a future, because there is still room for much improvement in diesel combustion technology.
“Considerable” fire and short circuit risks
The Karlsruhe researcher doesn’t believe there is future for batteries as a widespread solution, citing that the infrastructure challenges are too great and that there’s a “considerable risk” of short circuits involved with the use of lithium cells.
Overall Albers believes that “we have to remain open” to all solutions, for example synthetic fuels, power-to liquid-technology, or hydrogen gas powered engines. He does see a use for battery technology, but in certain niche markets.
Albers says a more rational solutions-oriented discussion needs to take place, and there’s a need to get away from the generation of attention grabbing “populist headlines”.
800,000 German automotive jobs at risk
We must not discuss the issue in a state of daily panic and campaign populism and put the 800,000 jobs of the German automobile industry at risk.”