If there’s anyone who believes passionately in the potential of electric vehicles (EVs) to change the world, it’s Xiaohang Liu. He’s always ready to fight their corner and debate with the doubters – as he showed recently when dealing with a particularly unconvinced car salesman.
To tell Xiaohang's story, we need to go back a little first. His love for EVs wasn’t love at first sight – it grew steadily over the years. In university, the theoretical mechanisms he studied were “a little boring at times”. But, like many talented students, it’s only when theory turns into practice that mere interest turns into love. Since he joined the BASF Cathode Materials team nine years ago, Xiaohang has become an essential cog in the advancement of electromobility. It’s a position grounded in his unshakable belief that EVs can change our world for the better.
It’s this dream that pushed him to work at the heart of the EV: its battery. His advances with battery materials directly impact the safety, driving range and overall lifespan of an EV. And, best of all, his work makes EVs more attainable for ordinary car owners. That’s one reason Xiaohang really loves his job. “The material we’re making is essential for the future of e-mobility. I've been doing this work for nine years, so it's like looking at a small baby you helped to create, or nurture, and it's finally come to maturity. How could I not love it?” he says with open-hearted conviction. He’s just as enthusiastic when it comes to EVs themselves: “When we look at the world and the potential impact the EV can create... it can make the world cleaner, decrease CO₂ emissions, is there any reason not to love it?”
He’s had to defend that baby on multiple occasions. He recalls one particular encounter with a skeptical car salesman, who questioned whether the EV was future or just a passing fad.
Xiaohang’s point is that because it took upwards of 50 years for cars to fully replace horses, nobody should expect EVs to dominate markets overnight either. Yet with the current momentum of progress, Xiaohang has no doubt that not only are EVs the future, they’re a strong contender for the present too. The internal combustion engine is powered, as its name suggests, by a series of internal combustions or controlled explosions. And that, to Xiaohang, is where the EV is superior. An EV’s motor is naturally more energy efficient, smoother and quieter, which in turn leads to a superior driving experience. Then, of course, there’s the fact that electricity is much cheaper than gasoline worldwide, and – as long as that electricity comes from renewable sources – significantly better for the environment.
It hardly needs to be said that the context for this focus on alternative energies is climate change. Xiaohang sees his own purpose very simply: to help avert climate disaster. But more than that, he sees his work as fulfilling a greater duty. “We have to take some responsibility to take care of the world for future generations. The EV will take us there.” This is where his ambition and his passion meet: