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7 EV Tech Trends to Watch in 2020

If the past few years is anything to go by, 2020 should be an exciting year for EV tech.

What could 2020 have in store for EVs? With all the unexpected tech trends taking the world by storm we can't really tell for sure, but it'll definitely be interesting to see what's next.

RELATED: HOW SAFE ARE ELECTRIC VEHICLES

How many electric cars will there be in 2030?

Estimates vary wildly, but sources like CNBC and International Energy Agency believe it could be significant.

"The number of electric vehicles on the road around the world will hit 125 million by 2030, the International Energy Agency forecasts. The world's fleet of electric vehicles grew 54 percent to about 3.1 million in 2017. The IEA says government policy will continue to be the linchpin for electric vehicle adoption." - CNBC

What new electric cars are coming in 2020?

2020 should be another interesting year for new EV models entering the market. Some of the most notable include, but are not limited to: -

  • Tesla Model Y. 
  • Volkswagen ID.3.
  • Vivian R1T Truck. 
  • BMW iX3. 
  • Byton M-Byte. 
  • Mercedes EQC. 
  • Polestar (Volvo) Polestar 2. 
  • Volvo XC40 Electric.

What tech trends should you watch in 2020?

Here are 7 potentially exciting tech trends to keep an eye on in 2020. 

1. Battery technology

ev tech trends 2020 batteries
Source: Helen Kennedy/Flickr

Advancements in battery technology have been painfully slow for many industries, including EVs. And the progress in their optimization has been so minimal that it looks like lithium-ion will be the go-to solution for many years to come.

But the steady improvements in cell chemistry, anode and cathode material, higher-yield fabrication process and economies of scale should help see a reduction in cost for each battery by around 6-8% every single year.

"And better-than-predicted improvements since 2010 have already brought large-format cells to a price of $145 per kilowatt-hour (if you believe repeated statements from GM's product chief Mark Reuss) when the 2017 Bolt EV launches late this year. Change comes slowly. Note that Toyota still uses the nickel-metal-hydride battery packs it launched in its first hybrid 20 years ago." - Green Car Reports

But there are some exciting developments in other alternatives to lithium-ion in the works. Solutions like micro-capacitors, miniaturized solid oxide fuel cells, graphene polymer, aluminum-graphite, and gold nanowire technology and even sodium-based alternatives could very well replace the seemingly outdated lithium-ion very soon. 

2020 might be a very exciting year for battery tech.

2. Charging technology 

ev tech trends 2020 charging
Source: Tesla/Twitter

One interesting trend to watch in the EV market will be improvements in charging tech. This is a necessary hump to get over if EV is to ever receive widescale approval by most consumers. 

In the eyes of their consumers, they are currently limited in their capacity mainly due to their range-per-charge and charging time. If directly compared to the internal combustion engine (ICE) car market, EVs are not quite as convenient for long-distance travel, even though they are much more environmental-friendly.

It simply is not really convenient to have to recharge the battery every 2-3 hours and wait around 30 minutes to get back on the road for most people.

To overcome this persistent issue, EV manufacturers will need to step up the availability of fast-charging stations around the world. Some companies, like Tesla, have already made some great strides in this area with their global rollout of supercharging stations. 

They also unveiled a portable charging solution earlier this year. Porsche also announced last year that they have developed a supercharging solution that cuts the charge time down to 15 minutes.

Other car manufacturers are also following suit too: -

"Audi, for one, recognizes the need—and has committed that a network of 150-kW fast-charging sites will be available for the all-electric Audi Q6 e-Tron Quattro luxury crossover it will launch in 2018.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra, on the other hand, said flat-out that GM is not planning to spend anything on a network of CCS quick-charging sites for the Bolt EV." - Green Car Reports

3. Autonomous driving

tech trends ev 2020 autonomous
Source: Tesla

Many EV manufacturers have already made great leaps forward in autonomous driving. Tesla, Toyota, Peugeot and many more are relentlessly working on making this a reality for the vast majority of car owners in the future. 

Not only will this make long drives more comfortable for drivers, but it could also make our roads a lot safer. Once set as a global standard, it will probably kill off several traditional jobs like taxi firms, chauffeurs, and long-haul lorry freight operators and put pressure on newer professions like Uber drivers.

But when one door closes another opens, and the dramatic change should also open up new, unprecedented, employment opportunities. 

Volvo and Baidu also announced last year that they were teaming up to develop large-scale autonomous driving in China

“With Baidu, we take a big step forward in commercializing our autonomous-compatible cars, built on Volvo’s industry-leading safety technology,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and Chief Executive of Volvo Cars. “There is a strong development in autonomous drive in China, where Baidu is a leading player, and the market there offers huge opportunities for us as the supplier of choice for autonomous fleets.”

Many other manufacturers like Mercedes and Audi are also working toward fully autonomous driven cars too. 2020 should also see steady growth in the autonomous vehicle market with total sales reaching around 51,000 units by year-end, by some estimates.

4. Solar-powered cars

ev tech trends 2020 lightyear
Source: Lightyear

Another interesting tech trend to anticipate will revolve around solar-powered cars. Many manufacturers are already working towards making solar cars a reality very soon. 

By allowing the car's battery to be charged on the move, this could be an absolute game-changer for the EV market. There are already some interesting prototypes currently undergoing testing, and 2020 could see some of them closer to production. 

Others are attempting to develop solar-powered hybrids too. 

If achieved, some estimate that the global market for solar-powered EVs could be in the order of $1 Billion in 2020. 

But, just as it is with every new technology, any models close to the production are incredibly expensive. One example, The Lightyear One, could set you back a whopping $107,000 a unit. 

5. Urban mobility (e.g. car-sharing apps)

ev tech trends apps
Source: Pxhere

Another EV tech trend to watch out for could be the developments happening in urban mobility, primarily car-sharing solutions. For EVs, there already are some apps like E-Car Club and Bluecity that allow users to take advantage of EV cars without the significant financial outlay required to buy one for themselves. 

As other companies realize the potential of such a market, we could see an explosion in car-sharing apps, companies, and other solutions as soon as next year. 

6. Electric planes

ev tech trends 2020 planes
Nasa X-57 Maxwell is an experimental electric aircraft. Source: Allard Beutel/Wikimedia Commons

With all the headway made in EV tech for the automobile industry, it was only logical to assume that other modes of transport would follow suit. One example being aviation. 

To date, some major operators, space agencies like NASA, manufacturers, and new startups have already got the ball rolling. Some, like EasyJet, believe electric planes could be a reality by 2030.

One startup, the U.S.-based Wright Electric, is planning to make short-term electric planes the standard for flights in the Middle East within the next 20 years.

Many other companies are already developing smaller electric aircrafts that should be available within the next few years, according to their estimates. One such company, the Israeli firm Eviation recently revealed a prototype of an all-electric passenger aircraft.

They claim that it will be the first one in the world and should be able to carry 9 passengers for 1,000 kilometers. It is expected to be released in 2022.

7. Software (connectivity, safety, information & entertainment systems)

ev tech trends 2020 software
Source: Tesla

Improvement and innovation in software will be another trend to watch in 2020. Just like the ICE industry, things like connectivity, safety, information, and in-car entertainment should see some interesting developments in 2020.

Connectivity, for example, will be of vital importance for safer autonomous vehicles. Higher bandwidths are also required for streaming 3K-4K videos in real-time for in-car entertainment.

With announcements over the last few months of Tesla's "summon" feature being included in its latest software update, it will be interesting to see what new functions will be added in 2020.

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