Editor's note: There's a lot of news about electric vehicles these days, and we're featuring it on the CoServ Blog every week. If you are a CoServ Member or Customer with questions about EVs, please contact us at EV@coserv.com.
By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ
A year ago, many electric vehicle advocates were proclaiming 2020 “The year of EVs” because of the advancements and democratization of the technology that were coming to fruition.
EVs were hitting the mainstream, with several automakers buying advertisements during the Super Bowl in early February.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and everything changed.
2020 was still a banner year for EVs: Global sales were up 133 percent from the previous year, Seeking Alpha reported. And if you owned Tesla stock at the start of 2020, you saw it surge by 700 percent, transforming CEO Elon Musk, now a Texan, into one of the richest people in the world.
But supply-chain issues combined with the loss of consumer confidence and buying power brought on by the pandemic meant EVs’ momentum fell far shy of expectations. Not to mention people drove less during lockdowns.
But a new year comes with a new set of expectations.
Here’s a wish list for the electric vehicle industry in 2021:
Simple Plug and Charge technology should expand
One of the hassles of charging in public is having to download an app or having an RFID card for every brand of electric vehicle charger before you can use it. There’s Blink Charging, EVgo, ChargePoint and Electrify America, just to name a few.
Tesla has been the only exception because its proprietary Supercharger network has no problem communicating with the vehicle to identify and bill the owner for the electricity sold.
Car and Driver reports that this same technology, which Tesla has been using since 2012, has finally made its way to new Electrify America chargers.
The charging network communicates with the vehicle so it can bill the owner. Car and Driver contributing editor John Voelcker found it by accident while stopping to charge a new Mustang Mach E last month. While it seems like a no-brainer, the software behind it is surprisingly complex, he said.
For EVs to really become mainstream, this technology needs to expand to more charging networks to eliminate the friction of needing apps to connect to various brands. This would make it easier than using pay-at-the-pump at the gas station.
More widespread EV advertising, marketing and public education/outreach
This article by McKinsey & Company explains how the marketing approach for electric vehicles must change in the post-COVID-19 world. The stay-at-home orders have shown what a city with fewer cars on the road looks like as pollution levels dropped. Could that be a selling point? People might be more inclined to want to charge at home and avoid gas stations amid the pandemic. They are also more likely to buy a vehicle online.
There’s also the increased focus on climate change, shifting environmental regulations and technological advances.
This EV News & Notes post from November goes more in-depth on the topic of advertising and marketing EVs.
Make EV charging practical in parking garages, apartments
Volkswagen recently unveiled a working prototype for an autonomous robot that carries batteries to electric vehicles in parking garages and charges them while the owner is away.
You can park anywhere, summon the robot and it brings the charging to you. This eliminates the need for dedicated charging spaces. This would be a revolution for parking garages and apartment buildings worldwide.
Continue advancements in wireless EV charging
Someday, the fact that we had to actually plug in an electric vehicle could be an archaic notion.
The wireless charging SAE J2954 standard offers 10-inch ground clearance and 94 percent grid-to-battery efficiency, Green Car Reports.
This represents a standard that could gain traction with multiple automakers.
BMW offers wireless charging for the BMW 530e plug-in hybrid on a trial basis. In the future, the technology could be embedded on roads so vehicles can charge while they’re driving. Tests are already being conducted with commercial trucks on a small stretch of road in Sweden.
Check back a year from now to see which – if any – of these items gained momentum in 2021.