"The electric car is neither a marketing phenomenon nor the mere consequence of increasingly stringent anti-emissions legislation. The electric car is a product in its own right: it exists on the market because the market is asking for it." This is how Teodoro Lio, Accenture's European Automotive & Mobility Manager, opened the round table "Sustainability and Electricity" at Motor Valley Fest 2021, moderated by the director of Motor1.com and InsideEVs.it, Alessandro Lago.
And if the electric car is first and foremost, indeed, a car, where could it be better developed if not in the cradle of the world's highest-performing and most-beloved cars, namely Italy's Motor Valley? Where there are excellent skills and, above all, an ability to create a system the world envies. There's an unparalleled base there to become the center of the world for high-end electric cars, as demonstrated by the mega investment of the Chinese Faw.
Davide Danesin, GT Line Global Executive of Maserati, shares this opinion, stating "the electric car is not a revolution, but an evolution of the concept of the car. Designing electric models is not just another job. There are new skills to develop and new problems to solve, but the notions that a manufacturer like Maserati has learned in decades of research are fundamental."
"The automotive world has always been evolving and we have always been in it," he adds, "today the evolution is on the topic of zero emissions, but we are not at a breaking point: we are adding new things to our established heritage."
Maserati will launch itself into the world of electric cars next year with the GranTurismo Folgore. This is one of the most representative models of the Trident brand and the decision to start with this car carries a precise message: even if it is battery powered, it will be a car made in full respect of the DNA of this Modena company. "It will also be offered with endothermic propulsion - explains Danesin - but there will be great consistency between the two power sources and great respect for our past".
The arrival of the Maserati GranTurismo Folgore is part of a larger trend. Between now and 2025, a multitude of zero-emission sports cars will arrive to market. By 2025, one-third of hypercars will be electric and another third will be electrified.
That's because the customer base targeting these niche markets is also changing. They want to continue to drive high-performance models but also experience them as the key to accessing a new world, which generates curiosity and makes them feel projected into the future. The Motor Valley can also play a leading role in this process, riding an evolution that, besides Maserati, will be supported by Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, and Dallara. Important names that will bring profound changes to the entire industry.
How charging changes
The arrival of so many high-performance electric cars to the market will bring with it new requirements for charging. Because sports cars generally have larger batteries, it will be even more important to take advantage of ultra-fast charging rates. Federico Caleno, Head of e-Mobility Italy at Enel X, and Antonio Gioia, E-Mobility Sales Manager at A2A, have outlined for us how Italy's infrastructure will develop.
"In the last 2 years," says Caleno, "we wanted to give homogeneous coverage on the national territory with 13,000 points in 500 stations. Since the beginning of the year we have started a second phase that aims to create a fast charging network with rates up to 350 kW".
"We will arrive in 2025 with 3,000 stalls of this type," he explains, "and having eliminated the fear of running out of gas, we are now working on long journeys. This is why we have just sent all the concessionaires who manage the Italian freeway network a document in which we declare our willingness to install recharging stations in all 440 service stations in Italy".
Lombardy-based A2A is moving in the same direction: "We started in 2010 to begin the first experiments with car manufacturers," Gioia points out, "and we started to install charging stations in the two main cities in Lombardy, Brescia, and Milan. We too have worked mainly on 50 kW, but now we are preparing for an expansion plan that in 2030 will see us present throughout Italy: we will go from the current 700 recharging points to 6,000 and among these there will also be fast charging installed on freeways, bypasses, and highways".
There is also Energica Motor Company in Modena, a company specialized in the production of high-performance electric motorcycles. Giampiero Testoni, CTO of the company, explains how the needs of a green motorcyclist are different from those of a car driver: "The customer of an electric motorcycle is a motorcyclist. He is a person who is looking first of all for performance, who loves technology but wants to experience the emotions typical of a traditional motorcycle. Our customer is looking for curves".
And that's why, in order to guarantee easy recharging, we need to think about an infrastructure that is also present on mountain roads, on the routes beaten by motorcyclists. "Our motorcycles do 0 to 100 in 2.6 seconds", says Testoni. "When a motorcyclist tries them out, he always smiles when he takes off his helmet. But tools like a proper charging network in places frequented by motorcyclists can do a lot."
Motor Valley and Digital Valley
To conclude, let's go back to Lio's words: "I often make this provocation. Until now, the car industry has been a 'simple' world. You designed a model, produced it, sold it, and then never thought about it again. Now we are faced with more complex ecosystems, which offer the advantage of a much larger market space. The automotive world is collectively worth $3.5 trillion. The mobility market, by 2030, will reach twice that value at $7 trillion. Because it will add services, technology, digitization. Think about autonomous driving or shared mobility."
This is where Italy's Motor Valley must focus. Combining excellence in the this upcoming area with new professional skills will lead the region to assert itself on a global level, pushing Motor Valley to become, to quote Lio's words, "A Digital Valley, a Cyber Valley, and a Sustainable Valley." Because in order to make an electric car, one must first of all know how to make a car, a car that must now also be digital, connected, and green.