The Short-Term Challenge of Electric Vehicles
Immediate adoption of any next-generation fuel might be slow as supply chain challenges remain a short-term problem. The chip shortage alone has disrupted and slowed EV vehicle production and rising costs of raw materials is also slowing production, but the demand is there from the consumer, with data from the UK showing the battery electrical vehicle registrations have grown by 49% from 2021 to 2022.
A number of leaders from the worlds largest vehicle manufacturers have already raised concerns about how the rising cost of raw materials has already impacted production plans.
Eventually, however, the chip shortage and other short-term supply chain challenges will subside. Electric vehicle adoption, across the board, should steadily accelerate as these vehicles and charging infrastructure becomes more available. More commercial fleets will be among those going electric.
The Longer-Term Challenges of Electric Vehicles
Several longer-term challenges are also present, which will largely dictate which fleets are the first to switch over.
Large Upfront Capital Investment
Switching an entire fleet over to electric vehicles requires a significant capital investment. The investment should more than pay for itself over time, but only the more well-funded will have the financial resources needed to transition
Small businesses and businesses with tight budgets are unlikely to purchase EVs quickly, regardless of what government rebates might or might not be available.
The lack of infrastructure increases initial costs with many companies needing to build their own charging infrastructure, which can limit the routes on which electric vehicles can be used. Setting up sufficient infrastructure is also difficult in many rural locations.
Infrastructure will likely first build up in cities and along major highways. Correspondingly, businesses that primarily operate within one city or along major road networks are the most likely to transition to electric vehicles in the short term.
Battery Capacity for Commercial Vehicles
The maximum range of the latest electric vehicles is improving with commercial EV manufacturers, such as Tesla, banking on the technology improving relatively fast. Current EV batteries still have a restricted range when used in commercial vehicles, especially when full load weight is factored in. The restricted range can be addressed in cities, where vehicles have relatively easy access to chargers, which means local businesses, last-mile delivery services, and public transportation will be the early adopters.
The risks that limited battery capacity presents are much more severe when traversing long highways. Operational efficiency, vehicle safety, and driver safety are all a consideration if a commercial driver is stranded with no battery power. There is also the challenge of charge time, where minimum charge time on rapid chargers is estimated to be 30 minutes, to achieve 80% charge.