(EnergyAsia, June 13 2011, Monday) — The following is an edited version of “Electric Vehicle Battle Moves Beyond Cars” by Peter Harrop, chairman of IDTechEx.

By a big margin, Toyota is number one in the sales of hybrid car and most electric vehicles (EVs) where it is holds a top three position in most countries. Toyota is number two in material-handling vehicles in the UK, and has strengthened its position further after Linde sold off its materials handling business.

Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota leverage on their EV-component purchasing power and experience in their material-handling, car and other EV-making activities such as buses.

Some of the first moves to instal AC motors in forklifts and lithium-ion batteries started with Nissan forklifts in 2008. Hyundai has a large hybrid outdoor forklift, and Jungheinrich field tested an innovative electric counterbalanced forklift for launch in 2011. The EFG 216k truck is equipped with a lithium-ion traction battery.

Toyota is also introducing lithium-ion, not just working to replace NiMH in hybrid cars and for use lithium-ion traction batteries in pure electric cars. The material-handling aspect is no sideshow. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Japan’s largest diversified machinery manufacturer, built a traction battery plant inside its Nagasaki Shipyard and Machinery Works last November. The plant has the annual capacity to produce 400,000 lithium-ion batteries for forklifts.

The Toyota Prius still drives almost all of its hybrid car sales. Its Auris now has a hybrid option while the electric versions of all its car models are being rapidly introduced. Toyota is not very keen on pure electric cars at present levels of battery performance, so it has made available hybrid versions of most of its models.

To catch up with Toyota, its rivals have formed alliances. BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroen have formed an equal joint venture to share the formidable cost of developing hybrid powertrains.

Daimler AG bought a 10% stake in Tesla, is developing electric Smart and Mercedes models, and has partnered Renault Nissan to develop small electric cars. Renault Nissan has teamed up with Mitsubishi, which has promised electric versions of all new car models.

Beyond cars

Third generation traction batteries such as lithium sulphur are being successfully deployed today in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Manned aircraft already incorporate the benefits of very thin, wide area traction batteries. Others will follow.

We expect the new, very flexible copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) solar cells to be installed on solar boats for up to 150 people such as those made by Kopf Solarschiff GmbH near Stuttgart. More electric land and air vehicles will soon be using these cells.

The new flexible photovoltaics is typically printed reel to reel. By contrast, traction batteries pushing the limits of energy storage up to 400 kWh or more are first seen in electric tugboats and electric AUVs.

In an excellent example of the new cross-fertilisation of ideas between different types of EVs, the German research organisation DLR is developing electric nose wheels for taxiing using its own Airbus A320 airliner and its state of the art permanent magnet synchronous brushless “dc electronically commutated” motor for better performance than that obtained with AC motors.

But it is also developing fuel cell powered material handling vehicles and cars and a simplified flat internal combustion engine for next generation hybrids in its Institute of Vehicle Concepts division near Stuttgart. Winners see the big picture.

For more details, please come to the IDTechEx event “Electric Vehicles Land Sea Air” in Stuttgart on June 28-29.

Everything from electric planes and solar boats to material handling vehicles and, yes, cars and delivery vans will be involved. As happened at the first such event in San Jose US last December, industry people will meet others facing similar challenges.

Completely new subsystems, materials and components will be covered. Examples include Bladon Jets mini turbines as range extenders in the new Jaguar supercar. Internal combustion engines, even ones optimised for use in hybrids, are cheekily referred to as “reciprocaurs” by those creating next generation hybrid electric vehicles that do not need them.

DesignLine of New Zealand is selling large electric buses in Australia, Europe and the US with mini turbine range extenders. Delegates will be able to check out the design of improved in-wheel motors, supercabatteries and third generation lithium traction batteries and more.

There will be visits to learn about the most exciting EV work in the Stuttgart region, home to Bosch, Mercedes and Porsche EV innovation.