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What will be powering the vehicles of the future?

“We’ll see unprecedented changes in the next 20 years,” says Dave OudeNijeweme, Head of Technology Trends at the Advanced Propulsion Centre which works on the production and development of low carbon propulsion technology in the UK.
In the light of net zero carbon targets, decarbonisation for cars and vehicles is already taking place, and in the future, change will be massive.

Passenger vehicles will by and large become battery powered, but if fuel cells can be developed to travel further, hydrogen propulsion – also using battery power – may become viable.

Likewise, light commercial vehicles with moderate distance requirements are likely to be battery powered. For greater distances, hydrogen fuel cells may become more mainstream and combustion engines developed to be ultra-clean, and using renewable fuels, may be used to power larger trucks.

Current investment and research are looking at the potential of lithium-ion battery formats using a decreased proportion of cobalt and increased proportion of nickel. Other potential battery formats still include solid state batteries. Research into alternative chemistry that does not rely on critical materials (substances that may have potential supply risks or are difficult to substitute) such as lithium-sulphur batteries shows potential – though there are cost and manufacturing issues involved around scaling up these technologies.

Watch this space

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