When we think about cars, our minds instantly wander to the four wheels and a piston some of us grew up with. However, for a more sustainable future, we must consider all possibilities and make the right choices — today.
Much has been said lately about America’s appetite to catch up with Europe in creating an electric vehicle (EV)-friendly infrastructure and enabling its largely car-dependent citizens to trade in their trucks for EVs.
President Biden’s bill promises to invest significant resources in establishing the necessary infrastructure to support EV adoption — and the government is calling on all of us (various types of technologists and innovators) to contribute to this effort.
In 2011, the percentage of EVs sold compared to more traditional vehicles was just 0.14%. This number has increased year-over-year and in 2021, EVs accounted for over 3% of all cars sold in the US.
With the improvement of the infrastructure, access to better technology, and continuous improvements to the EV automobile industry, it’s easy to understand why it’s predicted that EVs will account for two-thirds of all vehicles by 2040.
But what challenges are we facing with the rise in EV interest?
Even before President Biden’s announcement, organizations such as EVGo and Electrify America have been developing both hardware and software to improve EV charging networks.
Coupled with an increase of people interested in where they get their electricity from and what they are using it for, this is a pivotal time to completely revolutionize the country’s infrastructure.
In a survey by EY, American energy consumers expect to see a significant transformation in how they use energy and how it is supplied. The three most significant concerns consumers foresee are:
- The environment and climate change
We also have to consider the impact that the increased number of EVs will have on our energy supply. Where is this additional energy coming from? And what possible solutions are available to mitigate this impact?
Right now, smart tech means that some consumers can store and use energy when they need it or even sell it back to the grid to be used more efficiently and reduce energy waste. And more emphasis is being placed on renewable energy, from wind turbines to solar panels; these are technologies worth investing in.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for developing and improving the infrastructure. The work that needs to be carried out will have to be smart and optimizable to ensure sustainability.
The Software and Hardware
The biggest challenge outside of the sheer size of the infrastructure in the U.S. is developing compliant and reliable hardware and software. Not only does charging software and hardware need to meet current demands, but it needs to be optimized and adaptable for the future.
With new fast-charging capabilities, it would be easy for the hardware to overheat. One possible solution for this could lie in Professor Mudawar’s research for developing a cooling system. Another possible solution could be developing software so that the car and charger communicate more efficiently, the former telling the latter not to charge anymore, for example.
EV cars and chargers share data to be used optimally and more efficiently. This has a further impact on how both hardware and software are designed. Cars are no longer pure mechanics but smart technology that can learn and adapt.
Many MSP and CPO providers have promised to increase the number of fast chargers and EV chargers by over 10,000 across the country. On top of this, there are plans in motion to help standardize the chargers themselves. In turn, consumers can monitor their vehicle’s charging through an app. Making life easier, more manageable, and more affordable.
Electrification is something that the automotive industry is actively working towards. It’s what many consumers want, and we need for a sustainable future. To realize this dream, there is an increased need for tech innovation and creating an ease of use that will be adaptable in the future.
Being close to the topic, we know that there are three core components America needs to tackle:
- Infrastructure: creating charging networks that can support increased demand, integrate intelligently with energy sources, and minimize the impact on our energy supply, providing opportunities for load management to ensure fair and equal distribution.
- Software in cars and EV chargers: ensuring that data is shared freely between components and optimized in anticipation of future needs.
- And hardware: the actual chargers will need to become adaptable, smart, and accessible for all users. The cars, batteries, and more.
No one entity will solve this quickly, but the smarter we become on what is required, the better our chances of succeeding.
This is a complex problem to solve, with many active components. EVs, energy supply, the environment, and even culture all need to be considered when innovating solutions to the challenges we face. However, the US-based start-ups, think tanks, and incubators have already been addressing these challenges. We know because we are part of it, helping drive innovation for tomorrow.