What challenges lie ahead for electric vehicles in 2023?

By Sammie Eastwood
Many of the teething issues affecting the electric vehicles (EVs) market have been overcome, but there are still some challenges they could face in 2023

Opinion piece provided by Sammie Eastwood, Guest Editor.

 

It’s been a tough few years for everyone, particularly manufacturing, and like many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), the electric vehicles sector has been struggling to keep up with market demand. 

Though it seems we are reaching a tipping point allowing new electric vehicles (EVs) to flood the market and help the switch from fossil fuels, there is still a lot the industry needs to contend with. Here we explore some of the challenges that the EV industry is likely to face in 2023.

Universal fast charging still up for debate

As yet there is no universal standard charging socket for DC fast-charging, also known as Level 3, which is bad news for customers. Many OEMs argue that setting no standard early on is a good thing as it allows manufacturers to experiment and drives innovation. However, as a long term solution this is detrimental to the consumer.

With “range anxiety” being a major stumbling block when it comes to converting new customers from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Customers who fear they will be unable to find a suitable charging option in an emergency will make them even less likely to make the switch.

The increasing cost of charging

Speaking of universal charging, the buck doesn’t stop there. The recent energy crisis has left a lot of EV drivers worried about charging prices, with household electricity costs having increased by an eye-watering 65% in the last year. 

Although, despite this, data gathered by Zap Map shows that owning an EV still works out significantly cheaper, provided drivers mostly charge at home. Although, this doesn’t help EV owners who don’t have access to charging facilities at home or at work. According to the RAC anyone using public rapid and ultra-rapid chargers will only find it marginally cheaper than using fossil fuels.

Foreign market sucking up supply

China is one of the biggest manufacturers of EVs but also one of their biggest consumers. Plus, with other European nations, particularly Scandinavia, putting us far behind the pecking order, not as many EVs are reaching the UK as we’d like. Meaning despite more affordable brands like BYD entering the market, the cost of buying new EVs is still prohibitively expensive for many UK consumers.

Despite a lot of efforts, many of the British public seem somewhat cynical of the benefits of EV ownership, of which there are many. Unfortunately, more needs to be done to sway UK consumers into making the switch. Without greater enthusiasm for the market, it is unlikely that the UK will be prioritised over other nations when it comes to supply.

Continued supply chain disruptions

The worldwide disruptions to supply chains, due to various international events, most notably COVID-19, has meant many essential resources required for EV manufacturing are in short supply. This is especially true of semiconductors and lithium-ion batteries, which for many reasons, do not yet have an adequate supply chain in order to keep up with demand.

Luckily, a coalition of companies in Asia are working together to source new materials for battery making, as well as recycling materials from old batteries to help ease the supply chain. Despite this, there have been other setbacks, such as the UK blocking Chinese investment in semiconductor fabricator, Newport Wafer. Which regardless of where you fall on this decision, is a move likely to delay the manufacture of this much needed resource.

Rural areas lack infrastructure

A valid criticism often lobbied at the EV market is the lack of adequate charging infrastructure that makes the switch from ICE vehicles for many consumers unviable. A lot has been done to fix this, with many private companies like ABB, as well as the government, heavily investing to provide infrastructure throughout the UK. However, many critics still say that it is likely that demand will far outpace supply by 2030, leaving many drivers in a sticky situation.

While most major cities have seen an adequate increase in infrastructure, the rollout in rural areas still remains slow. With London having more EV charging points than all other counties in the UK combined. Investment in infrastructure is going strong, but slow adoption of EVs makes it harder for local governments to justify increasing their spend. Less infrastructure means slower adoption, which will in turn lead to decreased investment. To keep momentum, it is essential that infrastructure is provided across the country equally.

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