We think it’s going to be a bumpy ‘but fun’ ride…..

Blog by Dr Andrew Woods, CEO CATAGEN

Shift to electrification: a fun or bumpy ride

The Automotive industry is undergoing rapid, seismic change like never experienced before. The climate crisis and poor air quality have forced the world’s top engineers to re-imagine how people move and the environmental impact of that.

Unfortunately, up to now, there is no silver bullet. Every time we move, (not under human power), it results in an emissions footprint and/or other environmental impact.

Let me take this further. Full Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are a welcome sight across our cities. They directly improve air quality within the urban environment, but there always is a yin to the yang. Polestar for example reports 26.2t of CO2e from cradle to gate per vehicle. Significant energy and raw materials are required for battery production creating that CO2 metric. I applaud the leadership shown by Polestar in accounting for and being responsible to drive down/offset those emissions produced. In addition, as the vast majority of countries have not shifted away from fossil fuel reliant power production, there is a CO2 footprint from using the vehicle. When calculations are performed comparing BEV with small gasoline for CO2 production, the CO2 emissions benefit only kicks in after 6-7 years of driving the BEV.

Hybrid vehicles are a step toward full BEV but have significant new emissions legislation to contest with. Other technologies such as Fuel Cells, Hydrogen engines and alternative fuels all require significant government interventions to develop and prove the technologies in the marketplace.

In addition, the supplier base is being distorted and with suppliers trying to anticipate where the markets are going. Raw material costs are going up – in particular the materials needed for batteries. We are seeing a direct impact of this with our customers. The precious metal used in Catalytic converters (Rhodium for example) has rocketed by 1125% in the last 3 years alone and show no sign of abatement. We can of course assist with optimising catalyst design to reduce these costs…’plug over’.

The vehicle developer has to juggle many more variabilities. These include:

– powertrain variants,

– changing organisation roles and structures,

– immature technology development,

– new regulations,

– a moving supplier base,

– nervous investors

– and slow sales post pandemic.

There is one thing for sure. It’s an exciting time to be an engineer! It’s a time like this when the best creativity comes out of the human spirit. We at CATAGEN are fearless and are embracing everything the market is throwing at us. In some cases, we are developing new markets. We are developing new tools and services that will further our purpose of cleaning and decarbonising the air of the future. It’s going to be one fun and bumpy ride!