While electric cars will be the norm for light vehicles by 2040, the solutions are more open for heavy vehicles, according to a report published Thursday by the French Institute of Petroleum and New Energies (Ifpen).
Electric cars are expected to become more popular
Despite a higher purchase price, electric cars are already competitive in terms of cost of ownership, “provided that the battery has a capacity of less than 60 kWh”, says Ifpen in a report published with the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe).
“The payback period will be even shorter in the future as technical improvements and decreases in the cost and impact of battery manufacturing occur,” the authors state.
Moreover, the use of limited-capacity batteries will require the use of more energy-efficient vehicles to maintain sufficient range, “in particular a reduction in aerodynamic losses and vehicle mass”, a development that runs counter to the current market, which favors SUVs.
Plug-in hybrids offer “a real environmental and energy interest for light vehicles”, provided that they are recharged very regularly. Moreover, in 2040, with the progress still expected on the energy density and mass of the batteries, with an equivalent type of vehicle, “the consumption of electric vehicles should decrease by about 30% compared to 2020″, predicts Ifpen.
“Changing our behaviors”
But switching to electric power may not be enough to achieve the objectives of the European “Green Deal” (-90% of CO2 emissions from the fleet in 2050 compared to 1990), warns Ifpen. “A downward trend in demand for new vehicles, without a break in travel choices and without optimizing vehicle use, has little impact on decarbonizing the automotive sector,” according to the institute.
However, hydrogen, via fuel cell technology, will remain “not very competitive for light vehicles” by 2040, “due to high acquisition and operational costs”.
For passenger transport, the electric bus is “the most environmentally friendly solution in 2020 and 2040, but it is still more expensive than a combustion engine bus”. Hydrogen-powered buses, on the other hand, are still less environmentally efficient than electric buses, but will become more economically competitive by 2040. BioNGV, a gas produced from waste, “is a very good candidate for buses”.
For heavy-duty trucks, the cost of ownership parity between a combustion engine and an electric vehicle will be reached “between 2025 and 2035, depending on the target range and battery capacity”, estimates Ifpen.