British inventor Robert Anderson presented the first electric car at an industrial exhibition in 1835. Nearly 200 years later, electromobility has had an eventful past – with some lows – but with numerous highs, especially in the last ten years. The search for better solutions for comfortable and environmentally friendly mobility options has been pursued with innovative strength again and again. Electrification has already come a long way. There are more than 135,000 electric cars in Germany alone. Thanks to a steadily growing charging network and advances in technology, things are running smoothly for electric car drivers, even on long-distance trips. In addition, there is an increasingly interesting range of electric cars, such as family cars, SUVs, or even sports vehicles.
Researchers are continually looking into further developing electrification. Two e-startups and an established company based in Germany are rethinking electromobility and have now launched products on the market that are driving the development further forward.
Work began in 2012 on the Sion, the first model of the German startup Sono Motors. Its market launch is slated for 2022. Integrated into the body & structure, there are 248 solar cells covering the car. This innovative technology gives electric car drivers a whole new level of independence in their everyday driving. Thanks to the solar cells, the car’s range can be enhanced by up to 34 kilometers per day.
But even beyond the solar cells, the Sion is intended to be much more independent of the power grid and station-based charging stations than other electric cars. Vehicles from Sono Motors can charge each other if two drivers are on a trip with two vehicles; one vehicle can be used to charge the other, if necessary, thanks to a charger that works in two directions. The standard 35-kWh battery will enable drivers to enjoy long trips even in areas where the charging network is not yet fully developed.
Photo: Sono Motors GmbH
With a range of 255 kilometers and the additional charging options, this electric car is suitable for everyday driving as well as for longer trips. The generous 650-liter trunk and a trailer hitch are added bonuses.
The Sion will be produced in a former Saab plant in Sweden, which is slated to begin in the second half of 2021. The 25,500-euro sticker price is moderate, especially if you consider that the CO2 offset costs of production are already included, according to the manufacturer Sono Motors. The startup wants to electrify transportation as well as act sustainably in its production activities and across the entire value chain.
The German startup Lampuga promises “a fun time at the press of a button” with its electrically powered surfboards, called jetboards. Through electrification, the company wants to make surfing possible for everyone, without having to practice and wait for the right water conditions. There are two models of electric surfboards, which will soon be expanded by a third, more substantially powerful surfboard.
The universal model is called the Lampuga Air. The 2.3-meter long board is inflatable, making it easy to transport. The electric module is inserted in the back and attached with buckles when the user assembles the jetboard. The 14-hp surfboard reaches speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour. One battery charge can last approximately 45 minutes, and it takes around two hours to recharge it.
The Lampuga Air has been tweaked slightly for development of the Lampuga Rescue model. Technically the specs are the same, apart from a small reduction in weight. However, it is primarily designed for use in water rescue operations and is intended to make sure that help arrives quickly in situations when every second counts. That is why this model has additional storage space for rescue equipment.
A third model, the Lampuga Boost, will be launched on the market soon. It is intended to stir things up a bit on the market with its lightweight carbon structure, 2.56 meters in length, and speeds of up to 58 kilometers per hour.
One of the world’s leading companies for industrial recycling and water utilization has its headquarters in Lünen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Nearly everything revolves around recycling in Remondis’ Lippe plant in Lünen. This has also included the recycling of disused electric car batteries for some time now.
The battery park at the Remondis plant in Lünen is the largest storage facility for second-life car batteries in the world. The batteries, which come from old electric-powered Smart cars, are connected with one another and have a total capacity of 12 megawatts. The battery park has a total of 1,000 disused electric car batteries. It is directly connected to the power grid and can both store and release energy – within seconds, depending on demand. In this manner, the battery park can compensate for any grid fluctuations.
Image: InCharge; Source: Remondis
This is facilitated by the fact that the batteries are still powerful energy storage devices, even though they are no longer suitable for use in electric cars after a certain service life. They can continue to be used for at least two years once they have been removed from a vehicle, just like in the Lippen plant.
Remondis is even currently working on solutions in Lünen to fully recycle the batteries in the battery park after their service life and recover all raw materials. The raw materials could be used to produce new vehicle batteries for electric cars – a closed and sustainable cycle.
These three examples of innovative concepts for the further development of electromobility show that electric driving is becoming increasingly sustainable. The environmental footprint is already ahead of the competition, but the development opportunities in this dynamic market are far from exhausted, both in terms of environmental compatibility and performance.