For the past few years now, my interest in electric cars has been growing. I first researched EVs (electric vehicles) when buying a brand-new car in 2018. Back then, the technology just didn’t compare to an internal combustion engine. The recharge times were too slow, the infrastructure wasn’t good enough and the cost of an EV (electric vehicle) was prohibitive.

Battery symbol
Battery technology is a game changer in the car industry

Later this year, we are planning to buy a new car again and I know it will be diesel but, there will come a time when EVs are more capable than ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles. The current range of electric vehicles on sale give a lot of choice. If I was buying a small car for popping to the shops or commuting to and from a workplace, they really would be an option.

Chinese Auto Manufacturers

Just last weekend, we test drove an MG4 as a family and it was a good car. Chinese manufacturers have come a long way in the last few years, and now they threaten to disrupt the whole car industry. So far, we haven’t seen many of the new brands come to the UK but, it is going to happen. We are also going to become more aware of the battery manufacturers and their technology which is being used by current manufacturers.

You might think Chinese manufacturers are new to the automotive industry but not so. Back in 1983, Volkswagen were building and selling the VW Santana in China. It was the first car which revealed modern mainstream automotive production to the Chinese. As a nation, they were able to develop their knowledge and encourage other manufacturers to set up in China. Fast forward to today and China are ready to sell their cars to the rest of the world.

A Political Story

There is a bigger political story at play when it comes to cars and the wealth of their manufacturers. As China became the biggest car market in the world, they were able to entice every major brand to their market on the caveat that the cars must be built in China. That meant employing Chinese staff who learned more about cars and at the same time, the Government realized there was a revolution about to occur in the powertrain arena.

So not only did the Chinese learn to build cars, but they also began the development of electric vehicle battery technology. Companies like BYD and CATL are now major players, and they supply batteries to the rest of the world. It has left the ‘legacy’ manufacturers scrambling for market share as their ICE technology becomes increasingly threatened by legislation and emission regulations.

The Nokia Effect

The worrying fact is, as the legacy automotive manufacturers start to catch up with battery technology, the Chinese are already announcing a step change. They are already planning to move from Lithium-ion phosphate to Sodium-ion batteries. This means cheaper batteries with better performance which cause less environmental damage in the manufacturing process.

So yes, the next car I buy will probably be a German diesel but after that, I’m not sure Mercedes will even exist. It sounds like an unthinkable circumstance but, changes in technology are disruptive. Electric Cars are evolving quickly. It reminds me of a great manufacturer called Nokia. Put simply, they failed because they thought change was too great a risk.