Reimagining the Automotive Ecosystem with Electrical Vehicles – Chapter 4

Previous chapter 3 in this series discussed the different EV sub-systems and how the transition to e-mobility is impacting the automotive ecosystem. Vehicle electrification majorly impacts the ICE and related systems but has no or minimal impact on systems like vehicle chassis, and vehicle comfort systems. EV technology transformation also creates new opportunities for vehicle systems like batteries, vehicle electronics, etc.

This chapter reimagines the automotive ecosystem with vehicle electrification. Let’s discuss the major aspects of the new ecosystem that is evolving with vehicle electrification.

Automotive Ecosystem with Electrical Vehicles

The internal combustion engine is at the core of the present automotive ecosystem right from the vehicle concept to the end of life of the vehicle (Cradle to the grave). The vehicle is designed and the sub-systems are fine-tuned for the optimum performance of energy produced by the engine. Focus on the engine is not limited to vehicles but also extends to regulations, laws, and associated ecosystems like insurance, re-fueling economy, maintenance, spare parts, etc.

Figure 1: Automotive EV Ecosystem [Source: www.alpha-affairs.com]

Refer to figure 1, which summarizes the new EV Ecosystem and its components at a macro level. The electrification of the vehicle will enforce a change in the core of the automotive ecosystem. The new ecosystem will be centred around the electricity [recharging], eMotor, and battery [storage of energy]. Other vehicle configurations will be adopted from ICE vehicles for optimization of the performance of electric vehicles. Electric vehicle performance enhancement will be based on learning from present vehicles or new learning based on experimentations. Performance battery manufacturing will be key to the success of vehicle electrification. Performance battery configuration needs optimization of battery chemistry, power density, battery size standardization, manufacturing process, and cost. OEMs, as well as battery manufacturers, need synergies for achieving optimum battery performance.

Charging infrastructure will be another important constituent of the new automotive ecosystem. The present ecosystem is built for fossil fuels and will need to be transformed into battery recharging. The recharging infrastructure will break the traditional fuel distribution model i.e., fuel processing companies and retail distribution by its channel partners. The charging ecosystem will extend beyond traditional distributors & retailers’ models to personal home charging systems via the grid. The energy distribution companies will replace or partner with fuel stations for providing retail charging services to vehicles.

Regulations for electric vehicles need changes to current regulations and even the formation of new rules. Government agencies are working together and will need to extend cooperation to ensure a flawless transition.

Consumer behavior will change with the new mobility ecosystem. Public transportation will be emphasized to adopt electrification. Fleet operators, as well as personal operators, will expect more ecosystem changes in line with electrification including service networks, charging networks, etc. 

Figure 2: Automotive EV Ecosystem Reimagined Overview [Source: Capgemini Report: The Automotive Industry in the Era of Sustainability ]

Figure 2 depicts the reimagined automotive ecosystem with vehicle electrification. It can be observed from the figure that the automotive ecosystem will be evolved around the new sub-systems and new ways of energy storage as well as distribution.

However, vehicle types and their classification will be as present, but they will be more designated based on motor power/battery capacity dimension. Passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles including buses or trucks will be similar in the automotive ecosystem.

EV sub-systems are changing significantly. Motors, motor controllers, converters, battery are going to replace the ICE and its systems. Transmission and other torque transfer systems will get simplified compared to the present ICE vehicle system.

Charging [refuelling] infrastructure is another key visible part of the vehicle electrification ecosystem. Fast charging, supercharging, and wireless charging are some of the components and technologies of this ecosystem. Energy sources are also an important part of charging infrastructure like conventional or renewable energies. 

Deep Dive into “New Mobility” Ecosystem Constituents

This section discusses in detail each constituent of the new ecosystem.

a. EV – Type of Vehicles

As mentioned, in the previous section, the classification of vehicles will be followed like the present automotive system. However, the configuration and designation of vehicles will be different in the electrified vehicle world.  

Figure 3:  EV Ecosystem by Vehicle Types

The adoption of vehicle electrification and the evolution of the EV ecosystem will vary from region to region. In India, EV adoption started with mass individual transport vehicles like two-wheeler and three-wheelers, however, in the western world the passenger car, and public transport vehicles are driving the electrification journey. Intra-city last-mile connectivity or short-distance personal commuting needs, congested city roads, and vehicle movement within narrow roads make two-wheeler scooters a popular segment for electrification. In the Asian continent, two-wheelers are having a high rate of electrification hence, public infrastructure building is not the priority but encouraging personal charging as well as providing power to personal housings for the vehicle charging is prioritized. Regulation and EV policies of different state governments in India are encouraging charging within the housing societies, parking places, malls, etc., and not on the highways. However, this will change as the adoption of electrification in passenger cars and commercial vehicles increases. In European as well as USA markets, public charging and charging station availability on highways is prioritized to encourage EV penetration.

b. EV – by Major Components

New systems and subsystems are being introduced for electric vehicles. Vehicle electrification replaces ICE with the new prime mover i.e., eMotor. EVs have multiple options including types of operation like A/C or DC as well as types of motors. The motor controller is also an important part of the prime mover system. Based on the type of motor controller, its service and maintenance may play a role in the new ecosystem.

Figure 4: EV Ecosystem by Major Components / Sub-Systems

Battery, battery management system [BMS], and Battery charging systems are important parts of EVs.

Electric vehicle needs high voltage current and depending on the type of motor it also needs a convertor of supplied current suitable for the motor operation. 

Another significant system of vehicle electrification in the future will be the fuel cell and its system. Currently, the fuel cell system is evolving and is not as common as battery electric vehicles. However, considering its advantages soon it is expected to become a part of new mobility systems.

Traditional ICE systems like fuel system, cooling system, FEAD systems etc will be eliminated or will be present in a different form in new mobility vehicles.

c. EV – by Propulsion Type
Figure 5: EV Ecosystem by Propulsion Types

Referring to Figure 5, the Hybrid propulsion system is popular even today as it is based on ICE and BEV technology. It is more of an extension as well as strategic positioning to optimize the emission level of a vehicle. However, the hybrid systems are a good compromise but it is expensive compared to stand-alone ICE or BEV solution. Some advanced economies have adopted hybrid as a way forward for their automotive plan.

However, Battery electric vehicles are becoming more popular in Europe, USA, and China. There are many reasons for its popularity which include the availability of clean electricity from renewable sources as well as the favourable total cost of ownership. Infrastructure is also getting built for the Battery electric vehicles including battery manufacturing, charging stations and inclusive regulation, financial services, etc. 

Fuel cell propulsion is based on hydrogen fuel, and it is evolving for commercial usage.

As a new automotive eco-system is evolving around a new propulsion system, it will impact significantly the current automotive ecosystem of OEM, suppliers, and other ecosystem players.

d. EV – by Recharging [Refueling] of Vehicle

As the electrified vehicles become popular, recharging infrastructure will take centre place in the automotive ecosystem.

Figure 6: EV Ecosystem by Recharging Infrastructure

Re-charging infrastructure is one of the important forces for vehicle electrification growth. Recharging time, energy storage options, charging technology as well as infrastructure ownership are some of the aspects of new electric mobility.

Vehicle electrification growth will be positively impacted by charging speed. Slow charging, faster-charging options and reasonable availability are an important part of the automotive ecosystem.

Energy storage options like battery swapping may emerge as a viable option in many economies.

Charging technology is another important constituent that emerges in the new automotive ecosystem. Many countries are exploring options such as wireless charging on the go and it may become a popular option in the future. However, if vehicle electrification moves to fuel cell vehicles then ICE infrastructure of refueling can be adopted for the fueling of the vehicle which is a big plus. 

Charging infrastructure ownership is also one of the aspects of the automotive ecosystem which is not the consideration in the present ecosystem. The fueling infrastructure is well established between the oil refineries, distributors, and retailers. However, with electrification, even the individual vehicle owner has the opportunity to own the battery charging station. Ownership of charging infrastructure is still evolving.

e. EV – by Service Network

As mentioned earlier, the present automotive ecosystem is evolved and matured over a long time. The present ecosystem has organized service network as well as an unorganized service network.

Figure 7:  EV Ecosystem by Vehicle Service Network

An organized service network is established by OEMs and has considerable control of the operation in terms of quality and customer experience. However, an unorganized service network is established over time by aspiring entrepreneurs in the field. Generally, this sector operates based on expertise developed on the job and over time. Limited or no formal training is given to un-organized sectors. However, knowledge is built over time and experience in handling issues in the field.

Reimagination of the automotive ecosystem in the vehicle electrification era also needs consideration for this service network. The face of the service network will change with vehicle electrification. The EVs will need different skills as well as service competence. The mechanical servicing part of the vehicle may be addressed with current know-how as well as some adoption of new vehicle design. However, the major portion of electrified vehicle services is the battery, software service, and electronic hardware services that call for core knowledge as skills for servicing. The organized service sector training and development part still can be supported by OEMs as well as some institutions and will see picking up pace faster compared to the unorganized sector. 

Battery servicing includes battery maintained during its first life, refurbishing the end of first life battery for its second life. This service requires good knowledge of batteries, inspections, and rectification. The automotive ecosystem is experiencing and will experience activities in this area. However, another bigger concern is the recycling of batteries post its end of life. Experience from Lead-acid batteries suggests that a major portion of batteries are recycled today.  However, complex chemistry batteries like Lithium-Ion batteries demand recycling infrastructure which is capital intensive. However, in the future, this portion of the service network will see significant work.

Electric vehicles have an onboard computer to control the vehicle as well as for power management which includes a huge amount of software programs. The software related servicing including updating as well as reinstallation may demand new skills in service. However, presently many OEMs are doing this service via remote control by connecting the vehicle to the internet.

Electronic hardware service is one of the major changes automotive ecosystems will experience going forward due to vehicle electrification. Motors controllers, sensors, onboard electronics maintenance, and service networks will evolve and will be an integral part of the new automotive ecosystem.

Conclusion

The automotive ecosystem with vehicle electrification will be centred around the battery, battery management system, recharging, motors, and electronics hardware which is significantly different from the current ICE vehicle-centred ecosystem. The new ecosystem will impact the service sector significantly for both organized as well as unorganized service players.

In the next article, we will discuss the current vehicle electrification challenges and approach to technology and solutions development. The next article will final article of the current series. 


About the Author

Dr. Maruti Khaire is currently working as Head – EV and Special Projects at SKF India Ltd. He possesses diverse experience in the field of R&D, technology roadmap, and new products development in addition to business areas. Dr Khaire also co-authored the recently published book “Advanced Applications of Hydrogen and Engineering Systems in the Automotive Industry”.


Previous Chapters

  1. Transition to Electric Vehicles | Impact on the automotive ecosystem – Chapter 1
  2. Automotive Industry Stakeholders and Impact due to EV Transformation – Chapter 2
  3. EV Transition impact on different vehicle systems and subsystems – Chapter 3
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