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Latest trends in electric vehicles spell good news for the environment

Published Tuesday 19th March, 2019

Moving away from excessive fossil fuel use and the subsequent impact on the environment is essential, and the latest trends in electric vehicles (EVs) give us cause for hope that we're heading in the right direction. The main criticism levelled at EV manufacturers is that their vehicles may reduce emissions on the road, but plugging into the mains just defers the oil burning back to the power station.

Let's see how they're dealing with this issue by embracing renewables...

Electric vehicles and renewables are the future

Although they're not the best solution, hybrids, like Toyota's Prius, showed us that it's possible for EVs to create their own energy on the road. The Prius works by using a combination of an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, with the electric motor kicking in, primarily at low speed - pulling away and in traffic, for example - but it's the petrol engine that charges the electric motor in normal driving. It's an elegant system that reduces emissions in town, but it's not perfect and still relies on oil.

Fortunately, the latest trends in electric vehicles are definitely towards renewables, so let's take a look at what's in development right now:

• Solar powered charging – so often at the forefront of electric vehicle development is Tesla, and Elon Musk is following through on his promise to convert his company's Supercharger network to solar power. With over 1,000 stations throughout the world and a network that's expanding to include 10,000 Superchargers and 15,000 Destination Chargers this year, he has his work cut out, but that's never stopped him before. In fact, his latest Supercharger station in Kettleman City, California is one that Musk hopes will eventually go completely off-grid and become self-sustaining.
That won't be possible in all locations, but the intention is for Supercharger stations in the sunniest parts of the world to all go off-grid – a goal that has to make a difference to the environment.

• Solar powered EVs – perhaps even more exciting is the Sion - the brainchild of German company, Sono Motors - an EV that has the capacity to use solar power to be self-charging. Due to go on sale next year, the Sion is covered in incredibly efficient monocrystalline silicon solar cells, has a full battery range of 155 miles, and is capable of increasing that by around 20 miles through daytime solar charging in Germany. This compact and futuristic vehicle has made some serious waves, leading to pre-orders of over 6,500 units – perhaps its live moss air filtration system and ability to power work tools via a plug socket has something to do with that interest too!

• Brake charging – making use of wasted energy is fundamental to effective renewables, and Audi think that they've identified a source of available energy in the braking system of their EVs. Expected to hit production lines next year, the E-Tron will convert previously wasted braking and coasting energy into power that will provide 30% of the EVs 248 miles of range on a full battery.

As we can see, manufacturers are beginning to take renewable energy seriously, and the latest trends in electric vehicles suggest that the move away from fossil fuels to clean energy is inevitable.

LMFLMANatWestGoldman Sachs