Isn’t this what the EU is for?
I’ll put my hand up to having been a Remainer in 2016 when we all went to the polls. I don’t want to talk about the ‘B’ word, other than to say this.
There always has been much to concern everyone about the EU. It has needed serious reform for decades for a number of reasons but, for me, because it has often got the big calls wrong over issues for which it was formed.
It has always set itself up as the arbiter of standards, and yet it seems unable or unwilling to get its head around the looming challenges which electric buses (and cars) will face as new battery chemistries and technologies reach the market. The current (no pun intended) lithium-based technologies will almost certainly be supplanted by newer, better tech, and vehicles need to be future-proofed right now.
We have a mismatch of technology lifespans here. The design life of the bodywork of buses is 15 years at least but they are hefting around very expensive batteries which may well` need replacement in ten years. More to the point, the battery tech within them may be old hat in five years. At some point, it’s almost a certainty that the batteries will need an upgrade.
But here’s the thing. Unsurprisingly, every battery manufacturer makes different sizes of battery pack. Inside the pack, are multiples of battery cells, so there would seem to be no restriction on size and shape. However, the packs incorporate cooling and safety features; they’re not just boxes.
The problem is this. When the battery or technology expires, will every battery maker be up to speed, or even still be in existence? Will another battery fit the same space without re-engineering the vehicle? Surely the (minimum) battery pack dimensions should be standardised to future-proof the EV? With fixed dimensions and multiples of those dimensions, manufacturers could still be flexible by doubling or quadrupling the size but, when the time comes, other battery packs will fit the same space. For that matter, if hydrogen gets going, you may want to retrofit a fuel cell in the battery rack.
After all, when we stopped using zinc/carbon batteries in our electronics, we didn’t have to bung the electronics out when alkaline and rechargeable batteries came along because we had standard sizes of battery. Can the EU do this in isolation from the rest of the world? Yes it can, and it’s such a huge economy, it can probably set the pace for international standardisation.