From the introduction of clean air zones to global climate change deadlines to eco-conscious expectations from consumers, the demand for electric vehicles and eMobility has never been so high. While this might have placed an immense amount of pressure on the automotive industry to shift their focus, the potential growth opportunities of this increasing market make this transformation extremely worthwhile.
It’s estimated that, as a result of the increased pace the eMobility industry has experienced not just with passenger cars but vehicles of all shapes and sizes, by 2025 a quarter of all vehicles produced will have an electric engine. Experts have also predicted that the global production of electric vehicles will jump from 5m in 2018 to 18m per year by 2024. With predictions like these, it’s easy to see why car manufacturers the world over are suddenly turbo-charging their efforts to respond to this rise in demand and proclaiming their support for EV adoption.
However, while it’s clear that car manufacturers are starting to embrace eMobility, it’s not necessarily plain sailing from here. To meet their consumer’s expectations and to truly make it in this rapidly evolving industry, they have a few obstacles they need to contend with first.
Arguably the most important part of an EV, car manufacturers need their battery to be able to do two very important things. Firstly, they need to have a minimum reach of at least 500km before they need to be charged and secondly, they need to have a substantial lifespan - because current standard batteries are expensive to replace and most run out after ten years. On top of this, manufacturers also need to work with their batteries suppliers to create a battery that is lightweight, affordable and powerful; which is no easy feat.
As it stands, batteries pose a double-edged challenge to car manufacturers. There are fuel cells out there which are more than capable of powering a car over a long distance, however, these cells can weigh up to 800kg. While this isn’t necessarily a problem for lightweight vehicles, heavier cars will require more power which it will only be able to get by having a bigger, more expensive battery.
So a major challenge for car manufacturers at the moment is making their EVs as light as possible in order to house more powerful batteries inside. This can be achieved by utilising innovative, light-weight alternatives to steel that are also cost-effective when mass-produced.
It might be the next big thing to hit the automotive industry, but that doesn’t mean everyone is ready for eMobility. As such, one of the biggest barriers to widespread EV adoption is consumer anxiety. After decades of driving combustion engine cars, it can be daunting to try something new. The automotive industry will need to create EVs that offer driving experiences similar to what their consumers are used to with a decent range (many EV companies are current boasting a range of over 300 miles) to ease their consumer’s minds about just how far their car will go.
Answering their consumers burning questions relating to long-range and overnight charging, filling times and EV maintenance through clever marketing campaigns, website content and videos could also go a long way to easing this anxiety.
When it comes to electric cars, affordability is a top concern for consumers. The cost of an electric vehicle is, at the moment, relatively high in comparison to cars with combustion engines. However, if government incentives are leveraged to offset these high prices, this could help to make EVs more affordable to the general public. Another way of reducing the cost is to consider how they can reduce the cost of battery production, which is responsible for around 30% of the total cost of EV’s manufacturing.
Despite these factors, manufacturers are striving towards cost parity by at least 2025. More focus has also been put on making mass-production processes more efficient and manufacturers are working with their EV battery supply chain to help reduce costs wherever possible.
EV charging infrastructure
Now that EV prices are starting to decrease and ranges increasing, not providing sufficient and accessible charging stations could become a major barrier to EV adoption. Consumers want to be able to charge their cars anywhere and everywhere and at the moment, this infrastructure just isn’t in place.
Original Equipment Manufacturer, otherwise known as OEMs, are predominantly responsible for the EV charging stations we currently see in major cities and along motorways- not necessarily the car manufacturers themselves. To overcome this challenge, the car manufacturers will need to start investing in this infrastructure and carefully consider the varying EV charging-infrastructure needs required by their consumers, such as those who live in remote areas vs those who live in a city. They will also need to consider whether to invest in AC, DC or wireless charging; depending on which will provide the most efficient and cost-effective charge.
The UK is aiming to end the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040. So even though it’s not time for us to say goodbye to them just yet, the automotive industry has no choice but to work through these challenges surrounding eMobility and find solutions that will enable EVs to become a worthy alternative in the mass market. While there is still a long way to go before we see more EVs than traditional engine cars on our roads, if car manufacturers can make it through these obstacles, the only way is up from here.