The shift towards electric mobility can no longer be halted. However, there are still a number of unanswered questions as far as technology is concerned: the focus is on the battery. Scientifically speaking, it should be called a rechargeable battery, because a regular battery cannot be recharged. In general usage, however, the term battery has established itself. With their range and service life, the acceptance of electric cars stands or falls. In addition, a sufficient number of charging stations is important; at the beginning of 2019 there were already more than 13,000 publicly accessible charging stations in Germany.
In order to make the use of electric cars as company cars more attractive, the legislator reacted on 1 January 2019. If employees receive an electric company car for private use for the first time as of this date, the tax is reduced by half to their monetary advantage. Since then, the assessment basis for the non-cash benefit has only been half a percent.
In order to manufacture batteries for electric cars, manufacturers mainly use lithium-ion technology. The selfcampaign statistics for 2018 show just how much the decision-makers are concerned about this topic: Interest in it even exceeds the demand for articles on the subject of electric cars in general.
The batteries of the future should have a greater storage capacity than today, be inexpensive, lightweight and powerful. The more powerful battery should charge faster, be less temperature-sensitive and have a longer service life. In order to meet these demands in the post-lithium-ion era, manufacturers are experimenting with alternative materials such as plastic, glass, sulphur and silicon. In doing so, they are striving to become more independent of suppliers from abroad in the future. Powerful, safe and durable energy storage systems are not only interesting for electric cars. Manufacturers can also use them well in industry, medical technology or in the manufacture of high-performance tools.
Solid state batteries could represent a further development of lithium-ion batteries with liquid electrolytes. Their advantage is that they have a higher energy density and can be charged more quickly. In order to establish this technology on the market, some research work is still necessary.
A much-discussed alternative to lithium-ion technology is the lightweight and compact aluminum-air battery. Their advantage of higher energy density has long been offset by the disadvantage that they discharge relatively quickly even without taking power. Researchers at the renowned MIT have found a solution to the problem in the form of an oil barrier between the aluminium electrode and the electrolyte. In future, this system could therefore promote electromobility more strongly, at least by supplementing the classic rechargeable batteries.
The charging process plays a decisive role in the service life of the battery. Similar to the battery of a smartphone, the battery of an electric car should ideally be in a medium state of charge. It is therefore unfavourable to charge one hundred percent, and it is also advisable to start the charging process in good time, not only when the battery is almost empty.
Extreme temperatures are not yet well tolerated by most battery types, unless they have air conditioning. If possible, the electric car should therefore be parked in an underground car park and the driver should give it a break at temperatures above 30 degrees. The driver's driving style can also influence how long the battery lasts. It is not advisable to make a cavalier start and manufacturers reward anticipatory driving with a longer range.
As company cars and fleet vehicles, electric cars are increasingly becoming an attractive alternative, not least because of the ongoing discussion about and impending driving bans for diesel vehicles. Electric cars will therefore become particularly interesting for the company's vehicle fleet if pool cars cover many journeys within conurbations. In addition, the company is improving its image with a focus on environmentally friendly cars and is thus becoming more attractive for customers and applicants.
Finding sustainable – and economical – storage solutions for the long term is a challenge. On...