Instead the company will begin producing three levels of electric vehicles (mild, Twin Engine, and fully electric) and has committed to bringing out one million Twin Engine or all-electric cars out onto the roads until 2025, according to [Volvo President and CEO Håkan] Samuelsson. Between 2019 and 2021 Volvo plans to launch five fully electric cars, three of which will be Volvo models and two that will be high performance electric vehicles from Polestar, Volvo's performance car division. Samuelsson said all of these electric vehciels will be new models and not necessarily new stylings of existing Volvo models.I don't think the solution to the battery problems lies in competition and more players, Mr. Samuelsson; I think you need new physics or perhaps a new universe. There is no such thing as "Moore's Law of Batteries"; this is more an exercise in physics and chemistry than clever manufacturing. While I'd never recommend betting against "clever", there's no methodical process at work like there was in the semiconductor industry during the heyday of Moore's Law. To borrow a quote from that linked post on electric cars and batteries:
Technical details on the vehicles were sparse during a press conference held by Volvo, but the company did offer some information about its three electric vehicle tiers. The mild electric vehicles, which Volvo views as a stepping stone away from ICEs, will feature a 48-volt system that will utilize a battery in conjunction with a system that will function as a starter, generator, and electric motor all in one and the Twin Engine will be a plug-in hybrid system. During the press conference Henrik Green, Senior VP of R&D at Volvo, said the company will be aiming to provide a “very competitive range” with these new vehicles, which he said will be available in medium range and long range – at least up to 500 kilometers (about 311 miles) on a charge. Green said Volvo has not yet settled on a battery supplier, but said the company is looking at all available suppliers for the best option. “ When it comes to batteries of course it's a highly competitive and important component in all the future pure battery electric vehicles,” he said. Samuelsson added that this should also be taken as an invitation for more companies to invest in battery research and development. “We need new players and competition in battery manufacturing,” Samuelsson said.
Battery research is slow compared to the semiconductor "internet speed" we're used to. Think of how a battery works: two different materials give and take electrons at a voltage potential determined by the way the universe was put together. All of the simple combinations have been tried and new ones are being researched daily. The limits, though, are imposed by the universe. In semiconductor work, the same materials are always worked on, the techniques for putting down dopants and photoresistive masks is all that changes.I've tended to be hostile to electric cars and electric vehicles in general (and I've been taken to task over it) for a simple reason: from the fuel:power ratio perspective, they're so inefficient compared the power available with gasoline that I think of them as very niche vehicles. They're just not cost-effective, even with the thousands of taxpayer dollars you get paid to buy one. And remember GM executive Mark Reuss telling reporters that his company wants to be the first to produce “electric cars that people can afford at a profit.” As I've said a bunch of times now, battery makers are desperately trying to figure out how to reach a specific energy of 450 Wh/kg (Watt-hours per kilogram), gasoline already offers 12,000 Wh/kg. One horsepower is 750 W, so turning Watt hours to Horsepower hours, batteries give 0.6 HP*h per kg, while gasoline offers 16 HP*h/kg. Either way of looking at it, gas has over 26 times the energy density.
That said, there is a niche. If you use your car for nothing but easy commutes, they're another choice. To modify what commenter Aesop said to the post on Electric Airplanes, if there's no gasoline, the electric vehicle by itself is no better than a gasoline-fueled car: both only move until the fuel source is used up. A situation in which there's no gasoline available at all and no electric power to charge the car batteries for an extended period of times is a true SHTF event, and if you want your electric car to be chargeable with no power grid, you'd better plan for a solar panel farm and room full of batteries - just as you'd need to plan for a gasoline or diesel fuel tank if that's your fuel. The advantage to the solar, of course, is that the tank is refilled by the sun and you can keep some mobility. To some amount. For a while.
And since they're niche vehicles, going over to only EVs and hybrids will make Volvo purely a niche seller, if they're not already.
DC brushless motors used in virtually all electric cars, reach their absolute maximum torque at zero RPM. This combination would be great for people pulling boats up ramps, towing campers, and other things that are common uses for SUVs and pickup trucks. You pay for that "low end torque" in gasoline engines with larger cylinders (more cubic inches), longer piston strokes, and generally lower gas mileage. An electric SUV optimized for that sort of use would definitely get a closer look from me!