EV manufacturers embrace lightweighting

Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Material Technologies Shaping the Future of Electric Vehicles (EV), discusses the material technologies used in EVs by analysing recent global and regional trends.

Electric vehicle manufacturers are looking at materials as a lever of growth for EV adoption. Specifically, these manufacturers are embracing lightweighting of the core machinery required to keep the vehicle running.

Both battery manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are adopting direct and indirect lightweighting strategies that will help achieve smaller, lighter, and more powerful electric drive mechanisms. Materials manufacturers should take advantage of the growing demand for materials with specific properties that aid lightweighting while ensuring durability and safety.

The study contains a list of key innovators and inventions that could transform the EV landscape, along with patent filing trends.

‘The transition from internal combustion engines (ICEs) to electric drivetrain increases the total kerb weight of the vehicle as battery packs are up to three times heavier than an ICE engine,’ said Isaac Premsingh, industry analyst, TechVision. ‘This weight issue stemming from the battery pack has given rise to new weight reduction targets for other subsystems.’

EV manufacturers are driving demand for any material that can reduce the weight of its cars. Currently, the powertrain of a full-battery EV with a 35.8 kWh battery pack and 100kW electric motor is nearly 125% heavier than a standard ICE vehicle powertrain.

To make alternative powertrain technologies economical and practically competent with ICE performance, OEMs and battery manufacturers are exploring the following areas of opportunity:

  • Rare-earth-free Mg-Alloys with improved processability and heat stability;
  • All-aluminum body to enable battery downsizing without compromising on range;
  • Advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) grades to improve crash resistance with weight savings;
  • Battery technologies to close the gap between theoretical and practical gravimetric energy densities, especially for lithium-air;
  • Solid-state polymer electrolytes to improve ionic conductivity at ambient temperatures using biodegradable variants; and
  • Focus on material recyclability for battery components.