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Challenges and Opportunities of Electric Vehicles (EVs)

What is the Future of Plug-In Electric Vehicles (EVs)? Challenges and Opportunities

Plug-In Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a promising technology since they can significantly reduce pollution from the transport sector. In urban areas, only buildings generate more pollution than cars. However, cars release all their emissions locally, although a significant portion of the building emissions is indirect from power plants. Transportation is the primary cause of pollution in cities, even though total building emissions are higher.

Even if EVs get connected to a power grid that depends on fossil fuels, cities will benefit from improved air quality. In this situation, pollutants are shifted away from the streets and buildings and concentrated in power plants. Of course, using renewable power to charge EVs is the best alternative, increasing air quality while entirely removing pollution.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) - Future, Challenges & Opportunities

What are the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Electric Vehicles?

Electric cars are, on average, more costly than their fuel-burning counterparts. However, because solar and wind power have become so inexpensive, a low operating cost can be achieved by an E.V. running with them.

Also, note that each E.V. contains a high-performance battery and that the units connected to the grid will accumulate a considerable storage space. Utility companies will negotiate with E.V. owners to make use of this resource:

  • If the grid produces excess power, the connected EVs will get ordered to start charging. Electricity prices are dropping because of surplus generation, and E.V. owners are also benefiting from cheap charging in this situation.
  • The reverse also applies: Power utilities should aggregate the storage capacity of connected EVs and other energy storage systems to help handle peak demand. Of course, E.V. owners who participate in a program like this must first consent to take care of their batteries. A feasible alternative is to give E.V. owners reimbursement for the supply of energy during high-demand times.

A promising idea is developing a “virtual power plant” that combines the storage capacity of EVs and other battery systems connected to the grid. Thus, the total power functions as a single resource, even though individual EVs are linked and disconnected all the time.

EVs also help reduce indirect pollution, as the distribution of electricity to E.V. chargers is much more effective than the distribution of fuel to gas stations. Fuel deliveries require tanker trucks that use even more energy for distribution. On the other side, a well-serviced power grid will supply electricity to low-loss charging stations.

The environmental advantages of EVs are apparent in heavy traffic. The combustion engine still burns fuel even though it’s idling. However, EVs will recover the charge from regenerative braking, and idling emissions get removed.

When it comes to the idea of an electric vehicle, we prefer to envision a sedan or a sports car. However, the broader definition of “electrical mobility” has recently gained prominence. Electric power can drive vehicles of all kinds, from scooters and motorcycles to buses and trailers.

What are the Critical Challenges in the Deployment of Electric Vehicles?

In terms of their environmental advantages, electric vehicles still present unique challenges. First of all, the city needs to have a network of E.V. charging stations to accommodate a large fleet. Typically, E.V. owners have residential chargers, but these devices are sluggish, and they must plug the car in overnight. In several commercial spaces, EVs are only get parked for short periods, and in these situations, simply D.C. fast chargers are viable.

Widespread use of EVs can also change the charging profile of electricity grids, particularly if the city has many D.C. fast chargers-many models consume up to 50 kilowatts.

  • At present, power grids appear to face their highest annual demand on hot summer days, when thousands of air-conditioning systems operate at maximum capacity.
  • If the demand peak of the E.V. chargers exceeds the demand peak of the air conditioners, existing grids will not handle the load, making blackouts more likely.

There is no peak demand for air conditioning during the winter, but it can combine the peak demand for E.V. chargers with heat pumps-another new technology. The blend of heat pumps and electric vehicles can significantly reduce pollution from cities, but careful planning is critical to prevent an undue strain on the power grid.

According to the AFDC (2020a, 2021 – U.S Department of Energy), following are the different types of electric vehicle chargers summarized in the table based on charging types, charging speed, power requirement, connector types and % of number of public charging outlets.

Types of Electric Vehicle Chargers

Facilitating Supply Chain Issues for Production Partners

The increasing launch of electrified vehicles would, of course, have a knock-on impact across the automotive value chain. Accelerating the speed-to-market of new enabling technologies and ensuring a sufficient supply of components to sustain production are two key areas under investigation across the automotive supply base. As a single company can’t invest in anything needed to bring electric vehicles to the mass market, we expect to see improvements in design and production patterns.  

According to the Jabil report, 65% of automakers surveyed state that their company currently owns most electrification design work. Still, just 40% intend to maintain design ownership in-house over the next five years. Also, 58% state that their company already owns electrification technologies, with more than a quarter searching for outsourcing possibilities in the future.

The above data indicate that automakers increasingly plan to outsource design and manufacturing operations to strategic partners, enabling automakers to concentrate resources and financial investment on core competencies. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of getting a manufacturing partner who can help OEMs effectively manage supply chain risks.   

Also, the electronic content of a vehicle continues to increase in complexity and sophistication. The traditional fuel engine car currently consists of up to 3,000 capacitors, but it is growing to almost 22 000 multi-layer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) for one electric vehicle. 

A manufacturing partner may recognize several factors why a component might not be suitable, from the lifecycle (advance awareness that it will soon be out of production) to the lack of geo-redundancy and, subsequently, the need to spread options. Altogether, OEMs need a partner with a thorough knowledge of the lifecycle of the components required for automotive electrification and who handles supply chain disturbances on their behalf. As the adoption of electrified vehicles is becoming widespread, automakers will need to partner with suppliers who can develop and manage the supply networks required to bring new technologies to the market.  

Managing the Changing Perceptions of Consumers

While buyers will not prefer electric vehicles, the vehicles themselves have to provide consistency at the same or better level of experience to embrace a mass-market than the internal combustion engine. It will happen when customers are assured about three factors: the cost and capacity and speed of charging the car.

Pre-pandemic evidence has shown that customers are becoming more responsive to electric vehicles. But views toward electrified cars have changed as a result of the pandemic. Deloitte’s 2021 Global Automotive Market Study shows that almost 75% of U.S. customers are searching for an internal combustion engine in their upcoming car, up from 59% in 2020. Pandemic anxieties have prompted U.S. consumers to return to familiarity; 84% expect to buy a conventional vehicle in the future.

Cost is becoming less of an obstacle, too. The average price to run an electric vehicle in the U.S. is $485 per year. A customer would spend an average of $1,117 per year on operating a conventional car. In addition to that, the lack of maintenance costs for electric vehicles and, unexpectedly, vehicles’ higher sales price does not seem to be restricting. However, government incentives (as discussed earlier) will reduce price points and help drive adoption. 

The estimated range of conventional combustion engines is 418 miles. Meanwhile, the content of current electric vehicles is on average 110 miles to 373 miles. While Tesla declared in June 2020 that all North American Model S Long Range Plus vehicles had an official EPA-rated range of 402 miles. And in January 2021, China’s Nio reported a range of more than 600 miles. These figures begin to raise questions about the content of anxiety. However, closing the distance between EVs and conventional vehicles will make a significant difference in market acceptance.

There is a need for a more excellent charging system and the speed at which vehicle charges need to increase. The charging activity must be similar to the gas station model to create a mass market. These problems can get resolved by the evolution of battery technology and charging systems.

According to a survey by FullyCharged, 88% of customers who own an electric vehicle will not switch to petrol-powered cars. It ensures that most customers who make the transition to electric vehicles have a positive overall experience. The question then arises: are we doing enough to inform customers about the facts and benefits of owning an electric car? When the industry begins to do a better job, the sector can expand exponentially. 

Bottom Line

Electric vehicles have a tremendous potential to reduce carbon emissions if they are widely get embraced. Vehicle costs are declining as batteries’ prices have decreased by 87% over the last decade, and E.V. sales are rising rapidly. However, there are many complex technical, economic, and behavioral problems and trade-offs that hinder effective emission mitigation by mainstream E.V. adoption.

Policy responses are required to address these challenges. The CHARGE Act is a positive first step, and the E.V. Freedom Act sets out potential next steps. But several different approaches are feasible, and they are all worthy of consideration as the political momentum builds on this crucial topic.

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