Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) will make up more than 55% of new vehicle production by 2030 across China, Europe, North America and rest of the world. This will be 47 million units globally — seven times more than in 2021, says an analysis by McKinsey Center for Future Mobility.

It says the growth will be mainly driven by growth of 60% such vehicle production in the European Union, 57% in China, 46% in the United States, and 22% in rest of the world by 2030. Experts estimate the EV revolution has begun, and more than 500 EV programmes will start from 2024 to 2026 alone, apart from the 361 vehicles currently under development that are coming to market between 2024 and 2026. While 166 EV and hybrid vehicle programmes are set for launch globally in 2022, another 195 is slated for launch next year.

Currently, the powertrain of a typical BEV — the battery, inverter, and electric motor — together cost more than $10,000, often three to four times the cost of their equivalent parts in a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle. Chemical companies and OEMs are now working to bring down this cost. If the cost of a 150kW powertrain's battery pack costs $8,400 in 2020, this can come down to $6,600 by 2025 and $5,600 by 2030. Similarly, inverter, e-motor and reducer costs, cumulatively standing at $1,400 in 2020 will come down to $1,100 by 2025 and $1,000 by 2030. Overall, the battery and related system price of $10,300 in 2020 will come down to $8,200 by 2025 and to $7,100 by 2030.

Leading OEMs using the right thermal and insulation materials in the powertrain can lead to significant increases in system efficiency and reductions in warranty cost, which together can be worth several hundred dollars per vehicle. These savings make it much easier for OEMs to invest in enabling these materials. For example, transition from silicon oxide to silicon carbide power modules in the inverter can generate system savings on the order of $200 per vehicle for OEMs. The industry for specialty chemical materials in these applications — not including battery cell chemistry — could see an industry value pool of more than $20 billion by 2030, focused on high-value challenges linked to power efficiency, thermal management and battery life, observe McKinsey global experts Guttorm Aase, Chris Musso and Dennis Schwedhelm in the industry insight analysis.

To make this happen, chemical companies will see outsize value from materials innovations that solve power efficiency, thermal management, and warranty challenges. Power electronics, motors and wiring and batteries are going to make the change for a cost-effective EV industry, they say.

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