The mobility rEVolution: Rising gas prices supercharge EV adoption in the US


From pv magazine global

The adoption of EV in the US is picking up pace as gasoline prices soar to record levels. According to a national survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA), a quarter of Americans surveyed say they will buy an EV as their next automobile, with millennials most eager to go electric. Of those looking to buy a plug-in vehicle, 77% said the interest was driven by a desire to save on fuel costs. When comparing two popular EV sedans against popular gasoline-powered vehicles, the AAA found that fueling a gasoline-powered vehicle (about $70 for a full tank) is twice as expensive as charging an EV at a public station (around $20 per full charge) and about four times pricier than charging an EV at home (around $10 per full charge).

In addition to fuel savings, EVs cost less to maintain because they don’t have spark plugs, need oil changes or air-filter replacements. However, upon the conclusion of a federally mandated 100,000-mile vehicle warranty, EV owners may need to cover the cost of new batteries, which range in price from $2,500 to over $10,000, the AAA notes. Even as more Americans lean into electric options, the AAA found lingering consumer hesitation surrounding price (cited by 60% of consumers), range (60%), and accessibility to charging (58%). Regarding the latter, data from the US Department of Energy suggests there are nearly 55,674 charging stations throughout the nation.

In the UK, EVs are expected to make up close to a third of used car sales by 2030. According to a report by LV= General Insurance, 31% of cars on the used market will be EVs by the time the government introduces a ban on sale of new petrol and diesel cars. “While the average annual running costs of electric cars are significantly cheaper than petrol or diesel cars, the sticker price remains one of the big barriers for drivers considering making the switch, which is why these projections for a thriving second-hand market by 2030 are so encouraging,” Gill Nowell, head of EV at LV= General Insurance said. In 2021, fully electric vehicles made up only 1.3% of cars on UK roads, numbering 399,981. That figure is expected to exceed 1 million in 2023 (3.1%) and 6.4 million in 2025 (6%). In 2021, EVs are only expected to make up 2% of the total second-hand car market with 129,032 sold. The figure is expected to grow steadily by 2026, when 1 million are expected on the road, equating to 15% of the used car annual sales market. Used EVs are forecast to rise to more than 3 million by 2030.

Volkswagen Group of America has teamed with recycling start-up Redwood Materials, founded by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel, to establish a closed-loop battery supply chain in the US. Redwood will work directly with Volkswagen Group of America’s network of more than 1,000 dealers to recover, safely package, transport, and recycle end-of-life EV battery packs from Volkswagen and Audi vehicles. According to Redwood, the batteries will be processed at its northern Nevada facilities, where more than 95% of metals, like nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper, will be recovered and then used to re-manufacture anode and cathode components that it will supply back to US battery cell manufacturers. The partnership is “the first step in creating circularity for current and future vehicles” of Volkswagen, which is aiming for 55% of its US sales to be fully electric by 2030. In Nevada, Redwood says it already recycles more than 6 GWh of lithium-ion batteries each year, enough to power more than 60,000 electric vehicles — the “majority of lithium-ion batteries recycled in North America today.” Redwood previously partnered with Ford, Volvo and Toyota in EV battery recycling. The company is also planning to establish two recycling factories in Europe.

In Germany, Volkswagen has commissioned a fast-charging park at its electric car plant in Zwickau, which is supplied with energy largely from a so-called Power Storage Container (PSC). The PSC consists of 96 cell modules with a net capacity of 570 kWh, which were formerly installed as batteries in pre-production ID.302 and ID.403 models and have now been given a second purpose. According to VW, the advantage is this fast-charging infrastructure can be built nearly anywhere, even in places with a low-capacity grid connection. It is also described as a “cost-effective alternative to the transformer station.” The automotive power bank could enable high power charger infrastructure to be built in the future where previously only AC charging at a maximum of 11 kW has been possible, for instance in residential areas, according to the car maker. The charging park at the west gate of the Zwickau plant is made up of four charging stations, each with an output of 150 kW, which can also be divided into two outputs of 75 kW. This means that up to eight vehicles can charge at the same time. The electricity comes from an adjacent PV installation, from which Volkswagen Sachsen has been purchasing green electricity since 2017, among other  renewable energy sources. Three fast-charging parks will be in operation on the plant grounds by the end of the year. For the PSC, Volkswagen Sachsen is relying on a solution that Audi already successfully used as part of its charging hub  in Nuremberg. The container cubes consist of used lithium-ion batteries from disassembled Audi test vehicles that are used as buffer storage for DC electricity.

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