Electrification is changing the vehicle market, and Total is at the forefront
By 2038, it is predicted that electricity demand will increase faster than the demand for energy as a whole. One major contributor to this expectation is the rise of electric and electrified cars, vans and commercial vehicles.
Total has the ambition of low-carbon solutions making up 20% of the entire portfolio over the next 20 years, in line with industry predictions. To do this, we have expanded our solar energy focus, from the manufacturing of high-efficiency solar panels, to energy storage and ground-based power plants.
It’s not just where the energy is sourced from that Total is innovating in, either. With the growing sales of electrified vehicles comes an increased demand for batteries. Total recently invested significantly in battery provider Saft, creating a next-generation battery alliance project.
The aim is quite simple from the outside, and extremely technical from within. Saft and Total are combining to create solid-state battery technology, which far out-performans existing technologies such as nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion — increased longevity being key to future mobility.
But where does that leave us today and what are the types of vehicles that will benefit from renewable energy and enhanced battery technology? Sales of electrified vehicles are increasing and is one of the main reasons why Total believe electricity will be the energy of the 12st century.
It can be confusing for the customer or business purchasing a vehicle to know the differences, and similarly complicated for aftermarket maintenance and energy companies.
Here is a brief guide to the various different forms of vehicles that will change the way cars, vans and trucks are used — and how Total operates as a business.
Pure Electric Vehicles
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)
BEVs are the purest form of electric vehicles. They use a combination of batteries, inverters and electric motors to provide propulsion. A range of cars, vans and lorries are available right now in BEV form, with many more predicted over the next decade.
All are charged with electricity, increasingly generated from renewable sources such as solar, and when the batteries have enough charge you are able to drive. There is no internal combustion engine, and therefore no traditional fuel or engine oil is required.
However, Total is a technical partner to the DS Virgin Racing team in Formula E, developing greases and coolants required to be keep a BEV functional and competitive.
Should sales of BEVs take off, as is predicted, expect Total to double-down on such alliances. In addition, if solid-state batteries are successfully developed by companies such as Saft, the range of electric vehicles should increase, charging times should decrease, minifying two of the major barriers to entry.
Hybrid Electrified Vehicles
In the meantime, however, BEVs will not be the volume sellers. These will be hybrids vehicles. There are several types of hybrid vehicles, and these are what we refer to as ‘electrified’.
All electrified vehicles involve an internal combustion engine of some kind, so still require regular Total engine oils and coolants alongside batteries.
Mild hybrids (MHEVs)
Expect mild hybrid vehicles to spring up all over the place in the next decade. They are a regular petrol or diesel vehicle — which requires regular lubrication — but they have an advanced alternator system that can provide extra power during stressful scenarios; this is known as a Belt Alternator System (BAS).
The majority of the time, this is a regular internal combustion engine vehicle, but the BAS provides extra punch by feeding power from the battery (usually used to power lights and the radio) to the drivetrain. Suzuki has models on sale now, but Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volkswagen have all announced MHEVs coming to the market soon.
Parallel hybrid vehicles
This is the most common form of electrified vehicle on the roads, for now. Parallel hybrid vehicles utilise a conventional engine alongside batteries and an electric motor. They are not plugged in to charge, and require the usual lubricants. The combination of the traditional engine and electric motor are used to help acceleration, or the electric motor can be used for small amounts of pure-electric driving. The internal combustion engine also charges up the batteries.
A popular example of a parallel hybrid is a Toyota Prius, although many other manufacturers are producing rival models.
Series hybrid vehicles
Series hybrid vehicles feature batteries and a electric motor to power the wheels. For all intents and purposes, they are very similar to a pure-electric vehicle. However, they also have a regular internal combustion engine, which is used as a backup generator.
If battery power is depleted, the engine is used to provide them with charge, although internal combustion never powers the wheels directly, it’s always electricity.
Real-world examples of this system are the BMW i3 and the all-new London Taxi — LEVC TX.
Plug-in hybrids (series-parallel) vehicles
Combining both series and parallel systems are plug-in hybrids (PHEV). Once again, there is a regular internal combustion engine that needs to be lubricated, but there are also batteries and an electric motor. The batteries need charging via an external source, like a BEV.
Most of the time, the electric motor and batteries power the wheels, however there can also be situations where the petrol or diesel engine takes over or both are used in unison.
Manufacturers currently utilising this plug-in hybrid system include Mercedes-benz, BMW and Mitsubishi, but there are also plans for a Ford Transit van PHEV, for example.
For now, conventional petrol and diesel vehicles rule the roost. They will be the most popular propulsion methods for a long time to come. But, vehicles that utilise electricity in one form or another are set the gain market share.
The common thinking is that hybrid vehicles will become significantly popular sooner rather than later. Combining traditional lubrication methods, with electricity. Total is uniquely positioned to provide high quality lubrication than enhances performance and economy, but also renewable solar energy and the next generation of batteries.
While the Tesla Semi lorry and Nissan Leaf dominate headlines, the more pressing change could be the hybridisation of transport. Either way, we can’t wait to see future developments.