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Opinion: New Motors, Charging Stations Speed EV Adoption

Automakers and the world’s most powerful governments want electric vehicles to make up 50 percent of new car sales by 2030, which should be easy for one reason: EVs will be very different then than what we drive today.

A row of electric vehicles charging.
(TNS) — Global automakers and the world’s most powerful governments want electric vehicles to make up 50 percent of new car sales by 2030, which should be easy for one reason: EVs will be very different then than what we drive today.

Innovators are announcing newly improved batteries, electric motors and charging infrastructure every day. Miners, chemical processors and recycling companies are improving their processes. Electricity generators, transmitters and retailers are scrambling to take advantage of the industry’s biggest opportunity in decades.

Critics and naysayers can shake their heads at the challenge of electrifying transportation, and no one says it is easy. But underestimating entrepreneurs focused on delivering products that consumers desire is a surefire way to miss out on what some call the electrification super-cycle.

Past columns have focused on new batteries with higher capacities and quicker charging capabilities, particularly sold-state batteries. There are eight solid-state electrolytes with a dozen different anode and cathode types competing to see which will boost range the most for the buck, according to IDTechEx, an industry analysis firm.

But just as some internal combustion engines consume less fuel than others, some electric motors are more efficient.

Mercedes Benz last month bought Yasa, a British company that manufactures patented EV motors that they claim are ultra-high performance. Yasa will remain an independent company, custom-designing motors for global automakers using an axial flux design, producing higher power-to-size ratios.

Yasa motors will power all of Mercedes high-performance AMG.EA electric vehicles, which come out in 2025, while still supplying Ferrari and other customers.

“Thanks to electric motors with higher power density and continuous torque delivery, we will redefine the future of driving performance,” Philipp Schiemer, CEO of Mercedes-AMG and head of the Top End Vehicle Group, said in a statement. Mercedes will offer an EV version of every model it sells beginning in 2025.

LaunchPoint Technologies is also offering a better electric motor using an axial flux design and a Halbach Array technology. The company’s prototype produces five horsepower per pound, a higher power density than any other electric motor on the market, which could make it a game-changer for electric aircraft as well as cars.

Most experts agree that additional charging infrastructure will be critical to increasing EV sales. I’ve been driving an all-electric Chevy Bolt for four years, and while home charging at night works 95 percent of the time, I still need to rent a car when drive more than three hours because rural Texas is devoid of high-voltage charging stations.

The challenge, though, is more than charging stations on highway. Not everyone has a home or driveway that allows for self-charging. Less than 10 percent of Americans have a charging station within a quarter-mile of where they live, according to a study financed by the Toyota Mobility Foundation.

The bipartisan infrastructure package moving through Congress would dedicate $7.5 billion to more EV charging locations. If deployed correctly, it could leverage tens of billions in private money to build out a national network. After all, selling electricity generates profits, just like selling gasoline.

Tesla drivers were thrilled when Buc-ee’s announced its new location in Tennessee would include EV chargers, and they are hoping for many more. Electric utilities are excited too because, after decades of flat or declining consumption in most of the U.S., EV charging creates additional demand and profits.

Public-private partnerships could install charging stations on city light posts or parking meters to allow for on-street charging. I’ve already found it harder to access charging stations in Houston, San Antonio and Austin because other EV drivers beat me to those spots.

“Electrification could be one of the biggest growth opportunities in the industrial economy when you consider the number of areas that will need to be developed, expanded or modernized,” Joshua Pokrzywinski, an electrical sector equity analyst for Morgan Stanley Research, said in a recent blog post.

Pokrzywinski and other investment analysts predict an electrification super-cycle, a decade-long period of rapid growth for all companies involved in generating and delivering clean electricity to the technologies replacing fossil fuels.

Hundreds of billions will be spent connecting clean energy sources to electric transportation over the next 20 years.

Investors are putting their cash into companies that produce renewable power, electric vehicles and carbon capture. But Pokrzywinski argues the potential extends to companies that make the transformers, inverters and other equipment, possibly generating a compounded annual growth rate of 6 percent a year.

The EVs going on sale in five years will be far more efficient than what I drive now, and charging will be faster and easier to find. The world does not change at a steady pace but in sudden leaps.

© 2021 the San Antonio Express-News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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