The Startup
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The Startup

Electric Cars- How USA and World Is Preparing to Usher Into a New Era

Up until a few years ago when we used to think of electric vehicles, we thought of Elon Musk, a noiseless Tesla and luxury more than zero emissions.

Photo by Tommy Krombacher on Unsplash

It’s 2021, electric vehicles now includes cars, transit buses, trucks of all sizes, and even big-rig tractor trailers that are at least partially powered by electricity. Electric vehicles fall into three main categories:

  • Battery electric vehicles are powered by electricity stored in a battery pack.
  • Plug-in hybrids combine a gasoline or diesel engine with an electric motor and large rechargeable battery.
  • Fuel cell vehicles split electrons from hydrogen molecules to produce electricity to run the motor.

EV’s are more than just passenger cars now — from New York to Mississippi, you may soon find yourself on a quiet, zipping electric transit bus. The first electric fire truck in the nation will be welcomed by Angelenos in 2021 — and in the coming years, electric sanitation trucks will be quietly gliding through neighborhoods to pick up garbage and recycling, and more electric trucks will be delivering packages from warehouses to homes, air pollution-free.

L.A. fire department orders $1.2 million electric truck

The typical timeline for automotive R&D to become a product for sale is something like 8–10 years. All the major auto companies have substantial EV investments in the many billions of dollars that they invested in the past 5–10 years that you’re going to start hearing more about over the next couple years.

GM plans on introducing 25 new EVs in the next five years, and is currently constructing a battery factory in Ohio bigger than Tesla’s Gigafactory; they’re also spending more money on R&D for EVs than internal combustion engines, now. Ford’s new hybrid F-150 exists partly to tech that will be going into their new EVs, including an all-electric pickup truck (a huge technological milestone that no one has been able to accomplish). Fiat-Chrysler is merging with Peugeot in large part for both those automakers to leverage each other’s tech for upcoming EV platforms, and both automakers are testing tech with hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of existing vehicles. GM and Honda, and Ford and VW are also collaborating on tech and sharing platforms. All the major companies are dumping hundreds of millions into university R&D, as well as working with companies like Panasonic and LG Chem to improve battery tech.

There’s probably $100 billion being dumped into EV development, right now. Revolutionizing one of the largest industries in the world takes a lot of time, and there are manufacturing, supply chain, cost, demand, safety, standardization, and technology hurdles to overcome which are being worked on meticulously.

In Europe, Northvolt is constructing “Northvolt One” in Skellefteå, Sweden. It’s on track to being the largest battery factory in all of Europe. It’s starting 2 out 5 of its production lines this year-2021. In 2019 they secured 5 years’ worth of orders worth 14–15 billion USD. They’re going to primarily be making their car batteries for the entire Volkswagen Group which they also now plan to have a joint venture with to build another huge battery factory in the Netherlands most likely called “Northvolt two”. They’re also going to make batteries for BMW Group, Scania and many others. They’ve made a deal with Norsk Hydro to recycle all of used car batteries that will be coming out of the EV market in the world at the moment percentage wise — Norway mainly.

In terms of building out EV related infrastructure, there’s going to need to be a lot of incentivization and help from the government — things like in home wall chargers, thousands of charging stations, and probably most importantly — standardization among charging cords and power and such.

One way to cater to the enormous need for electricity is to tap into electric capacity on the grid at night. According to a research from one of the National Labs showed that USA has enough latent capacity to charge every light vehicle at night.

For most of the people out there, EV seems like a futuristic version of transportation where cars are not only super smart, autonomous, emotionally intelligent but also very attractive in design. True, EV of today has only achieved half of those imagined traits and is on track to achieve next half of those milestones in coming years.

To cement the notion, why EV is not a far-fetched dream anymore, imagine, 25 years ago, only 14% of the US had internet service. Today it’s nearing 90%. Same with cell phone service. We all paid for it, it can happen. It was cable TV 25 years before that.

Was the same pattern with commercial airlines & the airports they require 40 to 60 years ago. Was the same pattern with private car ownership & the road system they require 60 to 85 years ago. Same with landline telephones & electricity 75 to 100 years ago. Before that it was natural gas 100 to 125 years ago. And before that it was railroads 125 to 150 years ago.

So, as it turns out maybe EV is just an intermediate step in our journey to realizing our dream of living life like shown in “Back to Future” or gliding through the sky like “Star Wars”….

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sam asif

sam asif

An IT analyst adept enough to muse on any and every topic out there and I write sometimes….