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01The New Silent Road

How an auto EVolution will shape our future

Did we ever imagine that one day the car we use would be made by Google? Or expect to see what Sir James Dyson, who re-invented the vacuum cleaner forever, could achieve with his 'burning desire' to change car engines?

For well over a century, the internal combustion engine (ICE) has powered movement all over the world. All that is set to change, as evolving public attitudes about climate change and clean energy—and the resulting pressure from governments on car manufacturers—catapult the electric-powered motor towards automotive domination.

Hyperbole? Hardly. Sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) grew by more than 50% in the USA from Q1 2017 to Q1 2018. Europe saw growth of more than 90% year-over-year in the same period.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are not a new development, but it took Nissan's Leaf, and then Tesla's Model S, to show us that electric cars can achieve wide acceptance. With concerns about the levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in cities and the mass movement of people from rural to urban areas set to continue, the number of those looking for cleaner and more efficient vehicles will also keep ticking upwards.


Are electric
cars better?

The driving experience in an electric car provides appeal as well: the main difference many people notice when getting behind the wheel is the silence; there's no roar as you turn the key and ignite the engine. At the press of a button it is ready to move, instantly and silently.

Better yet, you'll likely spend less on running and maintaining an EV during its lifespan. An electric engine, powered by a lithium-ion battery (LIB), has a fraction of the amount of moving parts of an ICE, while being far more efficient. Needing to recharge will cost you about half as much as paying for gas or diesel, too.

Dr. Akira Yoshino, an honorary fellow at Asahi Kasei, the world's leading manufacturer of the separators used in batteries,started conceptualizing and prototyping with LIBs in the early 1980s. He probably didn't expect his innovation to one day play a key role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and making our roads safer.

"I thought [the batteries] would be a boon to tap into the 8-millimeter-video camera market. Mobile phones, laptops, and computers just kept multiplying, but no one was thinking about cars."

Yoshino recalls of his early prototypes
in an interview with Bloomberg in December 2017.
  • Audi e-tron
    (Prototype model shown)

    The first purely electric Audi combines enormous power and high efficiency.

    • Status: Premiers September 2018
    • YEAR: 2019
    • POWER / TORQUE: 300 kW / 664 Nm
  • Volvo Polestar 1

    An electric performance-hybrid with a petrol engine driving the front wheels and two electric motors driving the rear wheels.

    • Status: Planned production: Mid-2019
    • YEAR: 2019
    • POWER / TORQUE: 447 kW / 1000 Nm
  • Nissan LEAF

    One of the most well-known and best-selling electric cars in the world since 2010.

    • Status: On ROAD NOW
    • YEAR: 2018
    • POWER / TORQUE: 110 kW / 320 Nm
  • BMW i3s

    A compact and futuristic looking sporty electric vehicle that delivers on performance.

    • Status: On ROAD NOW
    • YEAR: 2018
    • POWER / TORQUE: 135 kW / 270 Nm
    • TYPE OF EV: BEV with HEV options
  • Renault ZOE

    Named Best Green Car at the FirstCar Awards 2018.

    • Status: On ROAD NOW
    • YEAR: 2018
    • POWER / TORQUE: 68 kW / 225 Nm
  • Faraday Future FF91

    A truly futuristic vehicle that includes 36 pieces of sensing equipment and one of the most powerful EV propulsion systems in the world.

    • Status: Planned production: 2018
    • YEAR: 2017 (Concept)
    • POWER / TORQUE: 783 kW / 1800 Nm
  • Hyundai Kona

    A stylish, modern electric SUV that has useable size, good range and affordability.

    • Status: On ROAD NOW
    • YEAR: 2018
    • POWER / TORQUE: 150 kW / 394 Nm
  • Aston Martin RapidE

    Proposed as a powerful electric sedan comprising luxury and performance in a classic design.

    • Status: Planned production: 2019
    • YEAR: 2015 (Concept)
    • POWER / TORQUE: To be advised
  • Chevrolet Volt

    The latest model of this gas-electric hybrid has been refreshed with increased range and reduced charging times.

    • Status: On ROAD NOW
    • YEAR: 2019
    • POWER / TORQUE: 111 kW / 398 Nm
  • Chevrolet Volt

    The latest model of this gas-electric hybrid has been refreshed with increased range and reduced charging times.

    • Status: Planned production: 2019
    • YEAR: 2019
    • POWER / TORQUE: 111 kW / 398 Nm
01 /

Types of Electric Vehicles

“It’s very important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport. This is really important for the future of the world.”

Elon Musk, CEO, Tesla Inc.

The future of EV’s

How manufacturing, design and policy will shape attitudes

what happens to
fossil-fuel vehicles

As governments push cash incentives to boost EV sales, politicians are passing legislation and to restrict the sale of fossil fuel vehicles.

  • Norway has set the earliest target, with a ban on new gas- and diesel-powered vehicles coming in to effect in 2025.
  • Athens, Brussels, Madrid and Paris have also banned these vehicles from being driven in their territories from the middle of the next decade.
  • India, Ireland and the Netherlands have set an ambitious target of 2030.
  • UK and France won’t commence their bans until 2040.
  • The USA has been largely silent at a federal level, but many states have set a 2030 target.

EVs and autonomous driving technology form the perfect partnership

At the start of 2018, GM revealed the Cruise, a fully autonomous car with no steering wheel and no pedals. Uber, Lyft, Google’s Waymo and many of the long-standing automotive industry leaders are also investing heavily in self-driving cars. The fully autonomous car that is fast coming our way will certainly be a Battery Electric Vehicle.

‘Range anxiety’ dissipates

Research in June 2018 by the AA found that 80% of those who do not own an EV are concerned about not being able to travel long distances, due mainly to a lack of charging points.

Places to plug in are rising rapidly in major cities, and progress is being made even in rural areas, which should open up the EV market to a new demographic. According to EU data, charging points have seen an increase by as much as 218%. In July 2018, the UK announced plans to install charging points as standard in new homes and offices. Total number of charging points in the US have increased to almost 50,000.

EV manufacturers have also put massive effort to address this 'range anxiety'. Many of 2019's EVs are promising ranges of more than 250 miles on a single charge, and is set to increase further.

Formula E: Racing with electric cars

The Formula E (FE) circuit features ten teams and 25 drivers, competing in cities such as New York, Hong Kong, Paris and Rome. Now in its fifth season, battery innovations mean drivers no longer need to hop in a new car halfway through a race. Expect FE to push innovation in battery technology even further, as competition increases, and the increased acceptance of environmentally friendly initiatives grows.

Newcomers reach for a slice of the pie

The Dyson company is rumoured to be aiming for a low-volume electric car release in 2020. And they're not the only entrepreneur looking to take a share of a market that BCC Research predicts will grow to nearly $130 billion by 2022.

Los Angeles-based start-up Faraday Future is quietly reaching significant milestones as it aims to begin production of its FF 91 car in December 2018.

Future Mobility, backed by investors in China, is currently developing its Byton concepts ready for a 2022 launch across China and the US.

The automotive industry is no longer the slow-moving beast it used to be. As new players enter the race with hopes to disrupt the market, and leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) continue to innovate throughout the car, we're likely to see many more developments before the dust finally settles.

A reason to buy evs?
You may get a rebate

  • USA

    Federal rebates of between $2,500 and $7,500 on the purchase of a new EV, in addition to any incentives passed by states, cities or utility companies. California - which makes up almost half of all electric car sales in the US and has more than 400,000 EVs on the road - offers 17 state and utility incentives in 2018.

  • Europe, United Kingdom

    Owners of EVs are exempt from car tax or qualify for a reduced rate. Grants of up to £4,500 and €4,000 are available in the UK and Germany, respectively.

The Asahi Kasei Group offers a broad range of technologies for functional fibers, performance plastics, synthetic rubber, and semiconductor devices, all of which contribute to automotive safety, comfort, and environmental performance.