The electric car in 2035: “The problem is totally underestimated”

2035 will mark the end of the sale of new heat engine cars. ULB engineer Patrick Hendrick worries about obstacles for drivers.

By 2035, new gasoline and diesel cars will no longer be sold in the European Union. Not the hybrids. The end of heat engines is approaching. The EU is paving the way for 100% electric vehicles. There is a whole revolution to organize.

“We must rethink our cities, our countryside, our zones.”

Patrick Hendrick

Engineer and professor at the ULB Polytechnic School,

We’re not ready. The problem is huge and totally underestimated”, says Patrick Hendrick, an engineer and professor at the ULB polytechnic school, who sums it up: “We have to multiply battery factories, we need current, terminals, parking spaces. We must rethink our cities, our countryside, our zones. It’s time for us to move, ’cause 10 years go by fast!

Affordable price?

What will the price of electric cars be in a few years? Larger-scale production will help bring it down. But it will take a while the components follow… “Some components, such as the cobalt, should be avoided, reminds the professor of aerothermomechanics. It would be necessary to use technologies that are not yet present, such as iron phosphate, which allows for LFP (lithium-iron-phosphate, editor’s note) batteries. But you have to control costs. We must also control the logistics of the lithium. It is mainly in Australia and the Andes that it is found, but the impact of this extraction is very heavy for the populations. However, by 2035, it will be necessary to extract ten to fifteen times more.

O cut often imposing electric cars contributes to their high price tag. There is also a challenge there. “We need smaller cars, with smaller batteries, especially in the city. The heavier a car, the more it consumes, the more batteries it needs, which makes it even heavier… But that, the manufacturers understood”, believes Patrick. Hendrick.

Battery availability is also a concern. “If we don’t want to pay too much for our batteries, because they come from China or Korea, takes control over logistics and pricing. For that, we need factories that produce them in Europe. not few, but tens, hundreds!”

Reload: where, when?

The issue of recharging is another aspect of the problem that affects (will) drivers.

“Today, in Brussels and Wallonia, there is a totally insufficient number of fast charging stationsand intelligent, which adapt to what is available on the network”, summarizes Patrick Hendrick.

“How to regulate the use of the terminals so that each user does not return to his car eight hours later, after work, having monopolized the terminal?”

“We need to install bollards more systematically, analyzing the needs. The role of public authorities is important! They should encourage the private sector to make investments.”

Where will these terminals be installed? In Brussels, few people have a garage. They will have to use it elsewhere: on the public road, in a supermarket parking lot, at work, etc. “But how to prevent each user from returning to the car eight hours later, after work, having monopolized the terminal? With a smartphone application?”, asks the ULB engineer.


“If we limit the power, charging will take hours and the owner will have to go down the street after midnight to disconnect the car.”

The good performance of the electrical network worries Patrick Hendrick, who lists examples. “In the workplace, it will be necessary many terminals. And some photovoltaic panels. But how do you do in January and February, when there’s little sun?” For refills at home too, it can get stuck. “The grid won’t support all the neighbors using electricity at night. If we limit the power, recharging will take hours and the owner will have to go down the street after midnight to unplug their car. This kind of restriction is totally underrated! change habits that are firmly rooted in society? terminals that charge at very high powerwe also have a network problem.

The ULB engineer re-emphasizes the potential danger of the simultaneous presence of dozens of electric vehicles charging at night in underground parking lots.

Hydrogen time?

Service stations will also have to adapt. “Currently, refueling takes 5 minutes. Even with fast terminals, recharging takes an hour. What are we going to do with the vehicle queues?”

But for the engineer, it was to remember that electrical technology is not limited to batteries. The fuel cell car running hydrogen must also be developed. “These vehicles offer 800 kilometers of autonomy and can be recharged in 2 or 3 minutes. We have to see how far their price will go…”

The summary

  • The European Union declared the end of heat engines in 2035.
  • Belgium appears to be far from ready for the massive arrival of electric vehicles.
  • ULB engineer Patrick Hendrick worries about obstacles for drivers: price, billing…
  • There are no terminals, their accessibility raises doubts, the electrical network is not suitable for massive loads…

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