Interview with Cécile Goubet, Secretary General of AVERE (the national association for the development of electric mobility) who comes back with us on the evolution of the electric vehicle market, the innovations to come… But also on the conditions to be met for a change in buyer profiles.
Q/ Sales of used electric vehicles jumped by +55% in 2019. Does this mean that the profile of “Homo Electricus” is changing?
Cécile Goubet :
Absolutely. Having a second-hand market for electric vehicles will help massify electric mobility. The electric vehicle arrived on the market 10 years ago. And what we have been trying to do for several years now is to increase sales of new electric vehicles, especially with company fleets, because after 2 to 3 years, these vehicles end up on the second-hand market. This makes it possible to have affordable electric vehicles.
And what we’ve seen with the studies of our regional branches is that for those who switch to electric vehicles, they become the main vehicle in the home, especially when you get to the 350, 400 km range levels. This is the range offered by today’s new vehicles. The rise in power of this technology is changing the buyer’s profile with it.
A Frenchman buys his first new vehicle after 55 years. For young people, we know that they find it easier and more appealing to electric vehicles. The problem for them is the price. We must therefore continue to expand the used market.
Q/ Much has been said about the Airbus battery project at Nersac in the new Aquitaine planned for 2021, then in the Hauts de France in 2023. What issues does this historic project address? And what results can we expect from it?
There is of course the question of energy independence from oil. There is also the issue of job creation by capturing the value of what electric mobility represents. Finally, overall control of the chain, including recycling and the second life of batteries, is just as important.
It should be added that the CO2 impact of battery production in France is already extremely low. This obviously improves the ecological footprint of the electric vehicle, which is already 3 to 4 times lower than that of a combustion vehicle. Not forgetting that in Europe, the objective is to achieve a decarbonised system by 2050 for the electric sector. This will make the production of batteries even more virtuous in the coming years.
By 2035, 50% of the vehicle fleet in France will be electric, i.e. nearly 16 million vehicles. This increase in power over the next 10 years will therefore be decisive in terms of employment.
Read also: “With ev conversion, we can change the world a little bit and we might just make it happen.”
Q/ Several calls for projects relating to the design, production and use of hydrogen systems have been launched in France. Is it conceivable that, in the long term, hydrogen will eventually replace electric batteries in the home?
The hydrogen industry is based on fuel cells, which for us is part of electric mobility. The only scenario that will enable us to meet the +1.5°C target means that private vehicles will have to be 100% electric. Most of them will be equipped with batteries, a small proportion of which will be hydrogen. It is more or less the same for LCVs (light commercial vehicles). But it is slightly more contrasted for industrial vehicles (trucks, buses, etc.). As the hydrogen industry is advancing very quickly, we now know that in the long term, the two will co-exist. And as with electric batteries, everything will depend on the development of refuelling infrastructures.
Q/ What are the latest innovations in electric batteries? And what to say to the French who think that batteries are polluting?
(laughter) For that we have a great document called “Stop the preconceived ideas”! It should be remembered that we doubled the capacity of the batteries in the space of 5 or 6 years. The newest products today are solid electrolysis batteries, with sodium or graphene. This will make it possible to further increase the energy density of future batteries, such as autonomy or recharging capacity.
We must not forget the Life Cycle Analysis of batteries, the famous LCA. What is great with the arrival of electric mobility is that people have started to ask themselves the question of the impact of their (electric) vehicle. What would be great is that people are now also asking themselves the question of the impact of their petrol or diesel vehicle!
And today, the only technology that has really asked itself the question of the complete LCA of its production is precisely that of the electric vehicle. Overall, we emit 3 to 4 times less than with an internal combustion vehicle…
With the industrialization of battery production, CO2 production has been divided by 3. And to get even lower, we must now focus on recycling and the circular economy of these batteries.
As far as rare earths are concerned, batteries do not contain any. Only cobalt is recyclable and can be sourced responsibly. Some manufacturers are already working on electric motors, without magnets, which do not use rare earths. … Electric mobility is making great strides!