The Auto Industry is Retooling to Get Ahead of the EV Revolution

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The auto industry is retooling to get ahead of the EV revolution

Tesla’s success has helped EVs become mainstream, and the auto industry realized that they aren’t just a niche, but are going to be a vital part of the future of the automotive industry. Tesla has already demonstrated that these vehicles can be sold in mass quantities and make money. This has inspired auto manufacturers to reconsider their business models and realize that electric vehicles are not a fad.

EVs will require massive new supplies of battery materials

The adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is increasing rapidly, with global production reaching four million units this year, and 12 million units by 2025. But the future of EV battery supplies is highly uncertain. Many factors will influence the amount of new battery materials required, including EV range, fuel economy, and powertrain configurations. As a result, EV battery supplies are likely to become strained and prices may rise. There is also a risk that structural undersupply will hamper future EV production.

To address these challenges, governments are implementing new rules and policies to promote recycling of EV battery materials. For example, China recently made EV manufacturers responsible for recycling their batteries, and the European Union is expected to finalize its first rules this year. A California panel of experts is also expected to weigh in on the issue next year.

EVs will require new supply of wiring looms

The production of battery electric vehicles will need an unprecedented amount of copper, as the increasing amount of on-board computer systems and sensors will require many more pieces of copper than the conventional internal combustion vehicle. A typical battery EV will need around 50g of copper per board. This is nearly double the amount of copper needed for a conventional internal combustion vehicle, and demand for copper will only increase in line with the rising number of autonomous vehicles.

EVs will use larger and more complex wires to power their various features. The electrical connections in these vehicles are driven by electronic control units (ECUs). The car is also equipped with sensors, which pick up information in the surroundings and send it to the car’s computerized systems. This information can help the car perform autonomous functions and minimize fuel consumption. According to a Siemens industry expert, a car is now like a “smartphone on wheels.” In order to power all these systems, the car requires a much greater number of ECUs.

EVs will require new supply of rare earths

The use of EVs is growing, and they will require a new supply of rare earths to power them. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, China accounts for 40 percent of the world’s rare earths reserves. The country plans to build six million EVs by 2023, which will require an additional 30,000 tons of these minerals. This is a huge investment, and could have a negative impact on the environment.

The Biden Administration has made a push to reduce reliance on Chinese imports, and has renewed efforts to develop domestic rare earths mining. But this effort has been met with resistance from the liberal-leaning Congress. The International Energy Agency estimates that EVs will use six times as many rare earths as internal combustion engines. While there is no shortage of rare earths globally, mining techniques must be improved in order to ensure a reliable supply.

EVs will save jobs

Electric vehicles (EVs) are predicted to command five percent of electricity demand in Europe by 2030. The key to lowering the impact on the electric grid is managed charging, a technology that controls the length, intensity, and duration of charging. This technology is already available, and a half-million charging stations are being built nationwide.

While EVs are a greener option for transportation, the auto industry’s massive supplier sector is set to feel the pinch of the transition to e-mobility the most. Many smaller companies rely on combustion engine parts and will find it difficult to shift to electric-car products. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), 14.6 million people work in the auto industry, which makes up 6.7 percent of the EU’s total workforce.

As EVs continue to grow in popularity, European automotive companies are feeling the pressure to move quickly. Regulations and consumer demand in Europe are helping EVs gain momentum. For example, the EU has announced a zero-emission target by 2030 for new cars. Meanwhile, seven OEMs in Europe have committed to 100 percent EV sales by 2030. While these regulations may be a bit aggressive, consumer adoption is on pace to far surpass these targets.

EVs will be more prevalent as more governments introduce measures to decarbonize fleets

While some people worry that the transition to EVs will be slow, it is possible to see rapid growth in the number of electrified vehicles. In Europe, for instance, EV sales are supported by corporate subsidies and COVID-19 economic stimulus measures. A number of European countries have integrated EV purchase subsidies with traditional vehicle buy-back amounts. In China, the government recently extended its subsidy program for EV purchases by two years, and is investing in the development of charging infrastructure in cities.

EV production should be matched by government efforts to encourage consumer adoption. Major investments in EV charging infrastructure and consumer purchase incentives can boost EV production, which in turn helps boost total automotive production. Furthermore, these policies can create jobs in manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and operations.

Jenn Fontana
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