Plenty of Electric, but Only One True Innovation
Electric cars bask in the show spotlight, under the admiring gaze of visitors to the Geneva Motor Show. But behind the wonderful gloss, the outlook is gloomy.
The halls of the Geneva Motor Show are easy to take in, and wherever a visitor cares to turn, promises of clean and sustainable mobility - fully electric, of course - are emblazoned across supersized LED screens. Electric cars bask in the spotlight and revel in the attention of hundreds of thousands of showgoers.
But behind all this wonderful gloss, the outlook is gloomy.
One visitor to nanoFlowcell AG's QUANT stand summed it up: "I love electric cars. I have a Fisker myself. Apart from a battery pack for 6,500 Swiss Francs, nothing has gone wrong so far. It has amazing acceleration, runs silently, it's a fantastic car. But who would buy it from me today?"
Probably virtually nobody. The age of the car isn't an issue, but its concept has long been superseded. And it's not alone, because the same applies to most electric cars at the Geneva Motor show, presented as trendy, new and forward looking. Some of them are even fakes, using a petrol engine to charge the on-board battery. This is most certainly not in the interests of the environment, but people are well aware of consumer concerns - mediocre ranges of around 200 kilometres, top speeds of less than 130 km/h and a more-than-flimsy charging infrastructure. And to top it all off, in most countries, the electricity flows from a nuclear wall socket.
Almost all electric vehicles share the same weakness - they are driven by NiMh or Li-ion batteries; technology that does not conserve resources and is neither environmentally friendly nor sustainable. Aside from possible thermal collapse, lithium-ion batteries are harmful to the environment as they are not 100% recyclable. They contain raw materials such as aluminium, cobalt, copper, nickel and manganese, most of which are difficult and expensive to recycle. Lithium remains as a waste product, left behind by pyrometallurgical recycling. These raw materials exist in finite quantities on our Earth, not even in sufficient amounts to manufacture enough batteries to satisfy current global vehicle demand. The raw material bottlenecks are therefore primarily the special metals (rare earths) and lithium.
The average German car currently has a life expectancy of around 18 years. Many live longer than that and enjoy the remainder of their automotive lives as classics. However, most electric cars will be denied this particular pleasure. The memory effect means the batteries "self-consume" and have to be replaced after just a few years - at a cost of around 5,000 to 8,000 euros.
Many manufacturers are therefore happy that demand for electric cars is limited, as there is an absence of long-term strategies relating to product and charging infrastructure. Technical vulnerabilities notwithstanding, electric vehicles are more image-builder than profit centre. Despite being expensive for consumers to acquire in the first place, the manufacture and operation of electric vehicles still require subsidies. A widespread charging infrastructure is even more distant, as there has still been no agreement on a universal software/connector system. Manufacturers have rushed in haste to build their own battery factories. Enormous investments have been made and now have to be written off. It's not easy for companies to draw a line under this.
In Europe alone, billions of euros in taxpayers' money are being poured into research and development in the field of electromobility to keep pace with Japan, the United States and, above all, China. But fundamental European research is not mapping out an electric-powered path into the future, but heading instead for a dead end. Research is often driven by the money supporting it, without concept or strategy and without real perspective either.
The focus should rather be on promoting research and development into alternative battery technologies and energy sources, with emphasis on minimising the use of material-intensive components. At this year's Geneva Motor Show, nanoFlowcell AG provided the trigger for this rethinking and demonstrated courage by tackling electromobility from a completely new angle. It is a small company putting a huge amount of energy into swimming upstream. Several thousand showgoers came to the QUANT stand to find out more about nanoFlowcell® technology and the breakthrough it offers for electromobility.
Almost every second visitor inquired about the price of the QUANTiNO or the QUANT FE and all were disappointed to find out that nanoFlowcell AG doesn't build cars. They found it all the more interesting that, theoretically, all electric cars could soon be driving with nanoFlowcell®. nanoFlowcell® offers Tesla performance at an iMiEV price.
Nunzio La Vecchia, inventor of nanoFlowcell® and Chief Technology Officer of nanoFlowcell AG is self-reliant. nanoFlowcell AG developed its groundbreaking nanoFlowcell® technology entirely without public subsidy. The energy source based on flow cell technology works with non-toxic, environmentally friendly and non-flammable electrolytes, which are energy efficient, sustainable and inexpensive to manufacture. Where conventional battery technologies fail due to their lack of perspectives as mobile energy carriers in electric vehicles, nanoFlowcell® offers an independent and sustainable solution for the electrification of global individual mobility.
Besides structural benefits due to its compact dimensions and low weight, nanoFlowcell® is also less expensive and many times more durable than all current automotive battery systems. With nanoFlowcell®, electric vehicles have a good chance of winning over even critical consumers.
"If manufacturers were to build electric cars that consumers want to drive, there wouldn't be any need for horrendously high subsidies or buying incentives. As long as electric cars continue to be merely a drivable compromise and are unable to demonstrate themselves as fun to drive, economical or environmentally friendly, electromobility will fail to achieve any kind of breakthrough on either a commercial or political level," says La Vecchia.
Speaking to visitors to the QUANT stand, many were able to appreciate the "electro chic" of the QUANTiNO as an all-in-one solution - long range, comfortable cruising speeds, convenient refuelling and moderate running costs. 100% electric, 100% environmentally responsible, 100% sustainable. Those are the perspectives with nanoFlowcell®.