April 17, 2024
Electric Powertrain

The Future of Mobility: Electric Powertrains

The automotive industry is undergoing a massive transformation towards electrification. With growing concerns around climate change and urban pollution, electric vehicles (EVs) are emerging as a more sustainable alternative to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. While EVs still only make up a small percentage of vehicles on the road today, industry analysts predict electric powertrains will dominate new vehicle sales within the next decade. Let’s take a closer look at this emerging technology and what it means for the future of mobility.

What is an Electric Powertrain?
The key component enabling an Electric Powertrain is its powertrain – the parts that generate power and deliver it to the wheels. In an EV, the powertrain consists of an electric motor, powered by a battery pack, rather than a gasoline or diesel engine. The motor draws current from the high-voltage lithium-ion battery and uses it to generate torque and power the wheels. Advanced power electronics and software controllers manage the flow of electric power and the interactions between the battery, motor and wheels. Compared to an ICE powertrain, an electric powertrain has fewer moving parts and requires less maintenance over the vehicle’s lifetime.

Advancing Battery Technology
While EVs are more energy efficient than gasoline vehicles, limited battery capacity has been a barrier to mass adoption. However, researchers and manufacturers are constantly working to develop higher energy density batteries that can power EVs over longer ranges. New lithium-ion cell chemistries using materials like silicon, sodium and solid state electrolytes are exploring theoretical ranges close to 500 miles per charge. Automakers are also using modular battery designs that allow owners to upgrade to larger packs over the vehicle’s lifespan as technology improves. With each iteration, battery costs continue to decline while capacities rise, addressing drivers’ number one concern about going electric.

The Rise of Electric Motors
At the heart of the electric powertrain is the electric motor which converts the stored battery energy into torque. New developments are improving motor performance. Advanced interior permanent magnet motors are achieving higher power density, efficiency and reliability. For performance vehicles, three-phase induction and synchronous reluctance motors are delivering electrified muscle. Companies like Tesla utilize dual motor systems and torque vectoring for enhanced handling. With electrification, we are also seeing customizable power levels to suit any need – from urban commuting to towing and off-roading. Electric motors enable instant torque delivery, improving acceleration feels as compared to current ICE powertrains.

Charging Infrastructure Build Out
Range capabilities are increasing, but without a robust charging network, EV adoption may still struggle. Recognizing this, policymakers around the world are implementing EV targets and infrastructure initiatives. On highways, a combination of high powered DC fast chargers and convenience amenities will provide drivers cross-country charging assurances. At destinations, Level 2 chargers will replenish batteries overnight or during activities. Advocacy groups are standardizing plugs/connectors and payment platforms. Vehicle-grid integration will capitalize on synergies when chargers coordinate with renewable energy usage. Through coordinated efforts, the goal is to achieve charge point parity with existing gas stations in key markets over the next 5 years.

Automakers Race to Electrify Fleets
Major automakers have announced bold plans to shift their lineups largely or fully electric in the coming decade. By offering affordable long range EVs and fuel economic combustion vehicles, companies aim to appeal to both environmental and budget conscious consumers. For example, GM has committed $27 billion through 2025 to launch 30 new EVs including electric pickups and SUVs. Volkswagen will spend nearly $40 billion electrifying its fleet with 75 battery models by 2029. Startups like Rivian and Lucid are staking their futures on premium Electric Powertrain pickups and luxury sedans. As demand rises with more options hitting the roads, the transition will drive innovation across the entire auto industry ecosystem from batteries to software.

The Transition Begins
Though challenges remain, the pieces are coming together for mass adoption of electric vehicles and powertrains. Battery costs are declining rapidly while capacities increase, addressing range anxiety. Automakers now recognize EVs as the future and are aggressively investing billions to phase out combustion offerings. Governments worldwide are supporting this transition with regulation and infrastructure investment. More startups are emerging to disrupt legacy players. For jobs, new opportunities are opening in EV components and technologies. This decade will see electric powertrains penetrate significantly into everyday transportation as the technology further matures. Though change brings uncertainty, addressing climate change requires innovative solutions – and electrification shows strong potential as the path forward for cleaner, more sustainable mobility globally.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it