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A brighter horizon ahead for the automotive sector

News International-French

28 Sep 2020

JEC Composites Magazine invites you to discover the latest trends and innovations in the Automotive sector through its latest editorial, which will be published in the JEC Composites Magazine N°137.

Frédéric Reux, Media Director & Editor-in-Chief, JEC Group explains:

Frédéric Reux, Media Director & Editor-in-Chief, JEC Group
"The figures for the automobile industry are not good overall, as was expected. In Inovev’s latest report on the economic climate, they put forward a few figures and bring clarity to the situation. Global vehicle sales, both private and commercial, have dropped by 23% over the first seven months of 2020. Production of both categories has decreased by 29% for the same period. According to various projections, 2020 is set to close with a 15% drop in sales and a decrease in production between -15% to -20%, with the difference owing to sales on inventory in stock.

In this bearish situation, there’s some good news to shared, like growth of the market for commercial vehicles in China. On a related note, we could also mention the attention that various governmental bodies and large industrial firms are giving to hydrogen. This technology may well give the automobile sector a new lease on life. Throughout the world, cars are gradually being prohibited entry to downtown areas. They are viewed with increasing disenchantment by young people. Cars are no longer the stuff of dreams, as they once were, especially given the pollution that they cause.

Hydrogen, with its promises of clean mobility, could very well reverse the trend — its combustion releases no CO2 emissions, no sulphur oxides , nor any fine particles. Our need for mobility will not disappear magically. Rural areas will still be just as far from cities, and pointto- point transit of goods will continue to be so remarkably efficient that we cannot imagine living without it in the future. Back in June, Germany, a global player in  mobility, was the first country to hit hard. They decided to devote €9 billion of the €130 billion of their Post-COVID recovery plan to developing hydrogen technologies. After Germany, it was France’s turn to announce a plan involving hydrogen. This plan of great magnitude calls for €7.2 billion by 2030, of which €2 billion will be released between 2020 and 2022.
At first, the plan involves avoiding fossil fuel-based energies that pollute, which are used to produce hydrogen. The goal is therefore to produce green hydrogen, through the electrolysis of water, from a renewable and decarbonised source of electricity. This technology exists, but is still very costly, and these must be reduced. Efforts must also be made on fuel cells, which are very expensive to produce; and to deploy distribution networks.
Then, and only then, could automobiles benefit on a larger scale from this fuel that is respectful of the environment and whose only byproduct is water. Changes must begin with heavier means of transportation, like trains and trucks.

Today, large industry conglomerates are at work on the topic, and after Toyota, other manufacturers are hastening the shift to hydrogen. This is an opportunity for composites, which offer real advantages for storing hydrogen in gaseous and compressed (up to 700 bars of pressure) forms. If we take into consideration the storage of liquefied hydrogen, composites have even more to offer. In this case, they are very advantageous in the design of lightweight cryogenic tanks that are strong, and easy to form."

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JEC Composites Magazine N°137, featuring Automotive