In 2021, the earth has been front and center as world leaders address climate issues and decarbonization. One result of this consciousness is acceleration of government funding and a supportive regulatory climate for vehicle electrification. Looking forward, here is what we think the major developments in the EV Industry will be in 2022 and beyond.
1. A Huge Challenge and a Business Opportunity for Utilities
Adoption of EVs by consumers, governments and automobile manufacturers has passed the critical turning point. This gives electric utilities new opportunities such as partnering with automakers, fleet operators, charge point operators and parking lot owners, among others. Utilities can support transportation electrification with new rate plans and enter the EV charging marketplace by becoming a full-service eMobility solution provider. In 2022, the focus for utilities will include expanding the grid so it will be ready to produce the power needed to charge the explosion of EVs on the road over the next decade. Estimates for how much more power we will need from the grid ranges from 25% to 50%. This will take government funding, like the $550 billion the U.S. has earmarked for grid and EV charging infrastructure expansion, along with public-private partnerships, and particularly in the U.S., regulators and shareholders willing to begin investing today to build future capacity. Even so, expanding grid capacity will take time – hence our next trend.
2. Local renewable energy and storage for EV charging
We will see more EV charging providers adding local battery storage, along with local renewable energy sources, to workplace, fleet depot, and multi-station charging facilities. Because more than 80% of charging will take place at homes, workplaces, and multi-dwelling units (MDUs), it will be critical to ensure that there is enough power there at the edge of the grid to meet driver needs – or enough storage and local renewables to balance or supplant grid capacity. Making all these parts work together will depend on smart energy management solutions.
3. Progress toward V2X
Sometimes the storage capacity at the edge will be the battery in the EV itself. We started with standards and hardware for vehicle-to-grid (V2G), where charged batteries in EVs feed excess power back to the grid, with the potential of earning money for the owner. Now we are looking toward vehicle-to-home, vehicle-to-building, and vehicle-to-battery (external storage) as well. In other words, vehicle-to-everything, or V2X. For homeowners, that can mean blending power between the EV, a home battery unit, and home renewable energy sources and selling excess back to the grid. The same holds true for commercial and industrial buildings that don’t have enough capacity from grid to run charging and the building itself at the same time. Charged EVs can balance out power needs by giving excess power to the building during peak times and draw replacement charge from onsite storage that is replenished overnight. V2X will require sophisticated software for managing all the interconnections – or utilities or other companies that will handle the management as a service.
4. Fleet electrification acceleration
The fleet electrification acceleration includes commercial vehicles, public transportation, and trucks. Vehicle manufacturers like our partner Volvo are planning and rolling out new electric van, bus and truck models, including trucks in the heavy-duty range. We are starting to see those heavy-duty electric trucks on the road in Europe. In some cases, delivery and public transportation fleets will require depots with the highest charging capacity in the shortest period of time. For heavy duty trucks, there’s talk of 1mW chargers (compared to 100kW, 150kW and 350kW fast chargers for automobiles). Another fleet consideration will be charging infrastructure for long-haul heavy-duty trucks in transit, which leads to our next prediction.
5. Exponential growth in public EV charging infrastructure
With driver demand set to explode, and with proactive government regulations, policies, and incentives, we will see the public EV charging infrastructure experience tremendous growth. This growth, along with EV roaming capabilities, will help allay the public’s concern about charging availability for long-distance travel and encourage EV adoption. Here is where we will also see oil companies start the process of transitioning their interstate-based refueling stations to fast-charging facilities for EVs. Operational excellence will be critical for public network operators, enabled by AI-driven energy management and smart charging software that can increase automation and ensure charger availability.
6. Consolidations and partnerships
As the larger EV charging players grow, we will see charging networks consolidate through mergers and acquisitions. These new blended networks will require a unified EV charging management platform that is vendor-agnostic and capable of handling cross-border billing and transactions. In addition to consolidations, we will see more partnerships across the EV ecosystems, such as the partnership between charging network EVgo and GM to accelerate EV adoption in the U.S. Look for these partnerships to drive rapid innovation.
One thing we can say for sure is that we are at the cusp of tremendous ecosystem expansion, with exciting developments and innovations ahead of us. This will benefit drivers, who are at the center of the EV evolution, and the planet as we move toward carbon-free transportation.