Huge investment in electric vehicles and batteries

World investment in electric vehicle and related battery technology looks set to surge, with Germany’s Volkswagen prominent, and nearly have the overall investment targeting the Chinese market.

A Reuters analysis of 29 global automakers found that they are investing at least $300 billion in electric vehicles, with more than 45 percent of that earmarked for China.

Global automakers are planning an unprecedented level of spending to develop and procure batteries and electric vehicles over the next five to 10 years, with a significant portion of their budgets targeted at China, according to a Reuters analysis of public data released by those companies.

Automakers’ plans to spend at least $300 billion on EVs are driven largely by environmental concerns and government policy, and supported by rapid technological advances that have improved battery cost, range and charging time. The accelerated rate of industry spending — much of it led by Germany’s Volkswagen — is greater than the economies of Egypt or Chile.


A significant portion of the global industry’s planned EV investment and procurement budget — more than $135 billion — will be spent in China, which is heavily promoting the production and sale of electric vehicles through a system of government-mandated quotas, credits and incentives. As a result, EV spending by major Chinese automakers from SAIC to Great Wall Motors could be matched or even exceeded by multinational joint-venture partners such Volkswagen, Daimler and General Motors.

The Reuters analysis details the EV investment plans of major manufacturers.

A lot of technology has already been developed for full electric and hybrid vehicles, but battery technology is still holding back the market, with vehicle range and recharging times still a deterrence, as well as the cost of EVs (although hybrids are now competitively priced, with Toyota Corolla hybrids similarly priced to standard models).

EE Times: The Race for a Better EV Battery

The race to dominate the electric car market hinges as much on battery technology and improved recharging infrastructure as it does on sticker price, software updates, and styling. Which is why Chinese companies are investing massive sums in matching and surpassing Tesla’s industry-leading battery technology and manufacturing capacity.

Nearly all of that capacity is focused on lithium-ion technology, but other approaches are emerging that promise to change the battery technology landscape to extend the range of electric vehicles. Increasing driving range to, say, the equivalent of a tank of gas could provide the inflection point that at last accelerates electric drivetrains past the internal combustion engine.

Aluminum- and zinc-air batteries
As new battery technologies emerge, new wireless schemes are also being demonstrated that could make recharging electric vehicle batteries as fast as filling a gas tank.

With lithium-ion battery technology perhaps approaching its own Moore’s Law ceiling, researchers are branching out to pursue technologies like aluminum- and zinc-air batteries that are just now entering the market. The key to those emerging technologies is boosting recharging capability while demonstrating the ability to lower energy storage cost to the baseline of roughly $100 per kilowatt-hour.

By some estimates, zinc-air batteries could hit the electric car market by as early as 2019 and eventually could be cheaper, lighter, and safer than lithium-ion.

Meanwhile, Tesla continues to ramp up lithium-ion battery production at its Gigafactory in Nevada and a planned battery factory in China — Tesla and battery partner Panasonic claim about 60% of global electric vehicle battery output.

A range of battery technologies are discussed in Future batteries, coming soon: Charge in seconds, last months and power over the air

The range of EVs, the recharging times and the availability of fast charge stations all need to improve before electric vehicles take over the car market. Up front cost of EVs is also a deterrence, as is the the cost of replacement batteries.

But all of this looks like changing quite rapidly if the large investments pay off.

This will raise another issue – where is all the electric power going to come from?

EV’s are still expensive and novelties in New Zealand. Drive Electric details makes and models available here, as well as costs. It includes plug in hybrids (which are also quite expensive).

There are just 10,000 electric vehicles on the road in New Zealand, just 0.25% of the total number of vehicles – see Increase in electric vehicle numbers, fleet still tiny.


Leave a comment


  1. Ray

     /  13th January 2019

    Well I am contemplating buying an electric car to replace the Toyota Rav we use as a town runabout or rather my wife uses. But until they can make an electric car that can give the range of a tank of petrol it could never be our primary vehicle.
    One of the Greens car did make it to the next charging point last year, it isn’t just a matter of get a tin of petrol to top up, no you have to be hauled to the next charger!
    A friend who lives an hour away from Dunedin has a Nissan Leaf, also has stories of having to stay because he didn’t have enough charge to get home.
    But as the article shows they are working on these problems and the rapid take up of E-bikes shows the way of the future.

    • A significant problem with e-bikes (and scooters) in places like Dunedin is the weather. It must also be an issue in Auckland – when I lived there I travelled around on a motorbike for work, but gave that up when I got soaked too often. One day when I was working on a teller machine in a bank and noticed that a pool of water had drained from me was the turning point.

      While cycle and scooter use may increase in Dunedin – Lime scooters seem well used after being launched a few days ago – taking away too many car parks will cause problems on wet days and during the winter.

      What may help would be something like a covered e-trike, a lightweight sort of weather proof electric commuting vehicle. Is there anything like this? Probably not suitable for cycleways though.

      • Ray

         /  13th January 2019

        An electric Tuk Tuk, these really are a thing.

      • Pink David

         /  13th January 2019

        “It must also be an issue in Auckland – when I lived there I travelled around on a motorbike for work, but gave that up when I got soaked too often.”

        If the rain doesn’t get you, the humidity will!

        “What may help would be something like a covered e-trike, a lightweight sort of weather proof electric commuting vehicle. Is there anything like this? Probably not suitable for cycleways though.”

        They exist, but no one finds them appealing in anyway, there market will always be very limited.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  13th January 2019

        They exist, I have seen motorbikes with canopies and there are very jazzy little vehicles that look like little smart cars but are actually mobility scooters – but not as we know them. I saw them on the news when a youngish woman who had to stop driving for some medical reason had one and, I think, imported them. When I saw one in reality, I thought that it was a car.

        Alan, some genius put a glass bus stop in Lambton Quay, It lasted a day, or rather less than a day before a gust of wind shattered it and cut the unlucky woman who was inside it.

      • Conspiratoor

         /  13th January 2019

        Waterproof rain gear (yes it does exist) neutralises the weather. Arrive at work bone dry having flattened the hills and inflated the power bill by approx. 2.37 cents

    • Griff.

       /  13th January 2019

      Nisan leaf has been in production for years .
      All ratings EPA which is close to real world range. YMMV.
      2011 TO 2016 models had 30 kWh battery 172 km range OR 24 kW 135 km.
      2017 on.
      40 kw 243 km range
      New leaf plus model released this month in Europe and Japan.
      60kw 330 km range ,

      As NZ brings in used imports we also benefit from any subsides from the markets we import from .These cars will start arriving on the second hand import market this year .

      Tesla model 3 In NZ show rooms new about june.
      499 km for the long range
      420 km for the medium range

      In NZ show rooms new now .
      Hyundai kona 2018
      420 km.

      Jaguar I pace 2018
      377 km.

      Most of us do about 300 km before we need to take a brake for a piss and a pie plenty of time to top or your car for another 80% range.
      Range is not really an issue with electric cars coming out now unless you are a masochist or really in a hurry.

      • Pink David

         /  13th January 2019

        “As NZ brings in used imports we also benefit from any subsides from the markets we import from ”

        I agree with this. Early adopters are going to be paying far, far too much, and the technology is still moving rapidly. The trick is to allow others to take this hit and benefit from the second movers once the technology has settled.

      • Gerrit

         /  13th January 2019

        One thing those km ranges don’t specify is the depth of discharge the battery is at after those km.

        Want long battery life it is best to only discharge the battery to 50% before recharging.


        “Operating conditions can have a dramatic effect on battery performance and lifetime. Battery life must be assessed from both operating conditions and battery characteristics to accurately determine results. If you see claims from outsiders about the cycle life of a company’s batteries, be sure to find out if they have correct assumptions regarding temperature, maximum voltage or full charge, minimum voltage or depth of discharge, and C rate.”

        I would want to see a recorded history of charging and discharging of any EV car before buying a second hand one. The value of the car is totally depended upon how good the battery has been looked after. Little old lady driving 20 km a day and recharging every night on drip feed, will have an long expected battery life. Hoons tearing up and down the highway to 90% discharge the battery and force charging each time will have a short battery life.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th January 2019

          I couldn’t believe that some fool bought a written off electric car, spent more restoring it than a new one would have cost and is still getting himself on the news to have a whinge about this.

  2. Gerrit

     /  13th January 2019

    Worth a sobering read. Not the EV is the easy part, electricity generation and distribution is the costly harder part.

    When to start?

    “With a fleet of four million cars, vans, utes, small trucks, and large trucks, charging all these vehicles could take up almost the entire currently installed generation capacity we have for electricity. ”

    “Stuck between a rock and a hard place, we should tread carefully around what developments we lock in to accommodate electric vehicle growth before it becomes significant. But we also need to think about what changes need to be in place before a growing electric vehicle fleet becomes a problem for electricity generation, consumption, and distribution. Plans and developments now, need to be made with the flexibility for the demand potential posed by the rapidly growing electric vehicle fleet.”

    • Griff.

       /  13th January 2019

      Research from Canterbury University [1] suggests that, if 100% of the fleet was electric, we’d need somewhere between 8,100 and 9,000MW to charge them all at the same time.

      We need capacity enough to make up for the miles driven not to charge every car at the same time .The numbers suggested are as absurd as saying we need enough gas pumps to full every single car with petrol at the same time.
      Your average male nz driver does about 32 km a day not 400 km. *
      The average driver would need to fully charge only once every 10 days or top up every few days at work, at home, at a public charger as they go shopping,whenever it is convenient. If you are not fast changing you just need a standard 10 amp domestic outlet to get about 16km range an hour.
      We also have far more cars than there are drivers in NZ.
      Your source has spun the numbers to make it look far harder than it is .

      Most cars allow you to limit the range of charge just as I do on my laptop.
      For every day use you try to keep the battery between 20% and 80% charge where the degradation is insignificant.

      *Men average 12,000km a year woman 8,000 in NZ from the MOT.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  13th January 2019

        The issue would be peak draw-down load (presumably about 17:30) – not the length of time it lasted. Would need to have some kind of “ripple control” to moderate that which would have to cope with deciding who needed a long charge and who didn’t.

        • Gerrit

           /  13th January 2019

          Ripple control would be interesting, especially for those who wake up in the morning to an uncharged or half charged car.

          At least with ripple control on the hot water cylinder, even with the power off, the insulated cylinder keeps water hot for at least 24 to 48 hours.

          No such luck with a car charger.

          Unless there is increased capacity in the electrical generation and distribution to meet the EV car demand, rationing might well take place.

          The infometrics article discussed a hypothetical worse case scenario. Now that may not happen but planning needs to get going today to get the infrastructure in place to feed the projected 40% of vehicles being EV bu 2040.

  3. NOEL

     /  13th January 2019

    Norway is often touted as the example for electric cars.
    ” Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, says 70% of its 60,000 members also own a fossil-fuel car .”

  4. Geoffrey Monks

     /  13th January 2019

    Put aside the feel good “we are going green” mantra and spend the time developing our generating capacity and distribution network to service the demand that will be created by the proposed huge fleet of EVs. Look again at nuclear generation. When that approach is rejected, look again at nuclear generation. And again. It is the only affordable option that can hope to meet the promoted demand.

  5. Conspiratoor

     /  13th January 2019

    Great link pg, with an interesting backstory. I counted 27 innovations from free thinking academia in the US, canada, israel, japan, south korea, switz, germany and even the ockers. If i’m not mistaken not a solitary breakthrough from china. A culture based around collectivism, groupthink and the ability to acquire by any means and copy IP wont see china as top dog anytime soon

    Btw enjoyed Bill Gates pisstake immensely😂

    • “not a solitary breakthrough from china”

      Interesting given the interest and investment in the Chinese market.

      • Conspiratoor

         /  13th January 2019

        Yes, interesting but understandable. As an old zen monk once told me. ‘If one has a dog one has no need to bark’


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