Electric Vehicles (EVs) are Fun to drive and cheaper to operate. EVs have grown in popularity considerably in recent years. As the adoption of electric vehicles continues to accelerate, charging stations of all manner and size will become more prevalent in day-to-day life. And while some areas remain underserved by the number of stations available to drivers, those EV drivers who reside in areas with adequate charging infrastructure are becoming less concerned with finding a charge and more concerned with the station being operational when they arrive. This is charger anxiety, and it is among the largest barriers to the continued adoption of electric vehicles in North America.
Charger anxiety is just one of the hurdles facing EVs. In this article we’ll discuss some of the Risks and Challenges Associated with EVs now and in the near Future
1. Relevant Charging Infrastructure
Rather than being refueled at a typical gas station, electric vehicles must be charged at electrical outlets in order to run. Many EV owners charge their cars at home in their garage using a special wall-mounted charger. This arrangement works for most people, because the average person drives 29 miles per day. This distance is well within the range of today’s electric vehicles, most of which can travel between 150 and 250 miles on a charge, depending on the model. However, two major difficulties arise. First, for drivers who live in apartments, parking garages are rarely equipped with charging infrastructure, and installing such infrastructure may be cost prohibitive for building managers. There is also the additional problem of the electric costs incurred at common outlets. Because regular EV charging consumes more energy than most other residential uses, building managers need a mechanism to monitor EV charging to ensure the driver of each vehicle pays for their own electricity usage.
Second, expanded charging infrastructure is needed for EVs to make long-distance trips that require multiple stops for charging. A recent study by the International Council on Clean Transportation indicated that 10,000 more charging stations will be required to support EVs traveling on inter-city corridors by 2025, based on trends of increasing EV ownership. When it comes to longer trips, EV owners can experience “range anxiety,” the fear that the car will run out of power before reaching a suitable charging station. Surveys show that concerns about range and charging availability are an important limit on consumer uptake of EVs. A 2018 report by the Harris polling firm found that 58 percent of respondents named “running out of power” as their top reason for not purchasing an EV, and 49 percent named “low availability of charging stations.”
- In today’s market scenario, one of the greatest technical challenges is the lithium-ion battery in Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). The energy density of Li-ion batteries currently can provide a limited driving range of 400 to 500 km (249 to 311 miles), whereas the consumer wants a driving range of 700 km (435 miles) or more.
- The high cost of Li-ion batteries makes the EV expensive. For example, Tesla recently introduced the Model Y, an SUV that sells for $39,000 for a vehicle with a range of 230 miles, and $47,000 for a range of 300 miles.
- Different car makers use three different types of DC fast chargers. the SAE Dual Charging System (CCS), which is used by the majority of manufacturers; CHAdeMO, which is used by Nissan and Mitsubishi; and the Tesla Supercharger (only available to Tesla drivers). This lack of vehicle compatibility varies from universal vehicle access to gas stations which can be an obstacle to mass acceptance of electric vehicles.
2. Risk and Threats Pertaining to Cyber Attacks
The public has already seen examples of attackers leveraging electronic charging stations to cause damage. This is often done through the Near-Field Communication (NFC) card that is used to handle billing when drivers charge their EVs. Problems include third-party providers of the ID cards themselves, who often do not secure their customer data. Researchers have shown they are able to copy these cards and use them to charge their vehicles, with the bill going to the associated account.
Additionally, many of the charging stations that are being used today use an out of date Open Charge Point Protocol based on HTTP, which does not encrypt data or communications. This could lead to relay or man-in-the-middle attacks where attackers leverage a seemingly legitimate signal such as WiFi. This vulnerability could also allow attackers to rewire charging requests altogether, and gain root access to the station.
USB ports on charging stations could also be used for malicious intent that could directly affect driver privacy. Through a simple flash drive, logs and data can be copied to the drive, giving attackers not only the data on the OCPP server itself, but also confidential information on users of the charging point, allowing attackers to copy their ID numbers or even track their location.
3. Charging Capabilities and Time
The amount of time it takes to charge a car depends on the battery capacity and the speed of the charger. A standard wall charger can take 8 hours to charge a Tesla Model S, whereas a supercharger would take 1 hour. Many chargers that you will encounter out and about will take at least 2 hours to charge a discharged battery fully.
There are three major “levels” of chargers available for EVs :
- The standard 120-volt plug, often used for home appliances, charges slowly but can fill a battery to near full capacity with several nights’ charge, or about 20 to 40 hours.
- The 240-volt “level two” chargers generally provide 20 to 25 miles of charge in an hour, which shortens charging time to eight hours or less. In homes, level two chargers can use the same outlet type required for clothes dryers or electric ovens. In the EV industry, the connectors used for level two charging are known as SAE J1772.
- Finally, “level 3” direct current (DC) fast chargers can charge a battery up to 80 percent in 30 minutes. Currently, level two chargers are the most widely available—the Department of Energy lists 22,816 public stations in the United States. There are important cost differences between charger types.
According to a study by the Rocky Mountain Institute, costs for a level two charger’s components range from $2,500 to $7,210 and from $20,000 to $35,800 for a DC fast charger. The decision of which stations to install requires balancing the cost of installation with the needs and convenience of drivers.
Many shopping centers and public parking lots have electric vehicle chargers, and you might be able to charge your car conveniently while sticking to your regular schedule. In other instances, you might be killing time in order to get from point A to point B. Charging at home or work is still the most convenient option when possible.
4. Disrupted Supply Chain Networks
There is no doubt that the rapidly accelerating EV market will have a major impact on supply chains. Global EV sales grew to more than two million units in 2018 — an increase of 63% on a year-on-year basis, according to McKinsey.
This booming industry is now in a time of supply-chain uncertainty, as COVID-19 has been sending ripples through global supply chains, creating issues with sourcing, lead times and transportation of components.
It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s not just components needed for the vehicles themselves, but the components needed for the EV infrastructure to offer a sufficient number of charging points. Cables, sockets and other accessories will also be a necessary part of the transition to EVs. One component that is currently in high demand is lithium-ion batteries, and this is causing a big strain on supply chains. It is clear that, to ensure the success of the EV industry, manufacturers and suppliers need to meet these challenges head on.
Another key problem aside from availability is that mining of cobalt, a key battery material, is currently concentrated in one country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are concerns about the morality of the cobalt mining industry, as well as the environmental impact.
What’s more, China is the largest producer of lithium hydroxide used in electric car batteries, but they are currently still engaged in trading tensions with the United States. This has been compounded by the fact that production costs and logistical difficulties are being caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, so the supply of lithium hydroxide worldwide has been halted.
5. High Price of Electric Vehicles and Range Anxiety of some countries
Electric cars generally have higher sticker prices than their gasoline-fueled counterparts, mostly because of expensive materials and processes used in battery production. Although these costs have fallen steeply over the last decade, the average sticker price on a new electric vehicle is around $30-40,000. However, electric vehicles are likely to accrue significant savings on fuel over a 15-year lifespan. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Idaho National Laboratory, under baseline scenario assumptions about gas prices, electricity costs, and charging behavior, electric vehicles could save consumers anywhere between $4,500 to $12,000. The savings depend on the driver’s state of residence, with Hawaii offering the lowest savings and California the highest. Even with the savings over time, it remains important for electric vehicles to be affordable at point of purchase to compete with gasoline-powered cars.
High end Electric Vehicles could be difficult to afford by the people of countries having lower economic scale. For example, the average cost of electric cars in India is around INR 13 Lakh, much higher than the average INR 5 Lakh for economical cars run on traditional fuel. Therefore, it will be a challenge for companies like Tesla or BMW to grab the mass market.
Rudratej Singh, president and CEO of BMW Group India, said that the infrastructure for electric vehicles is still ambiguous and uncertain, which would affect the price and acceptability of the vehicle among Indian consumers. Recently, Toyota has halted the manufacturing of electric and hybrid cars for the Indian market, citing inadequate charging infrastructure
6. Grid Capacity
Trading out a national fleet of gasoline-powered cars and trucks for a fleet of EVs means that millions of people will depend on the electric grid in new ways. Therefore, power generation capacity will need to increase to accommodate these vehicles without straining the grid. Expert assessments vary on how much electricity demand will increase with widespread EV use. The Department of Energy predicts a 38 percent increase in electricity consumption by 2050, mostly due to a high penetration of electric vehicles.
Researchers at the Energy Institute at the University of Texas Austin conducted a state-by-state assessment of a scenario in which all personal cars, trucks, and SUVs are converted to plug-in electric models. The study finds that state energy consumption would range from an increase of 17 percent in Wyoming to 55 percent in Maine. Most states’ consumption increases are clustered between 20 to 30 percent. While some state grids have the available excess capacity to generate increased amounts of power with existing infrastructure under favorable assumptions for charging times, others do not. The ability of grids to handle EV charging also depends on what time of day the vehicles are plugged in. EVs have a much lower chance of overloading grids if charged at off-peak hours, when fewer consumers are using electricity.
- Charger Anxiety – https://www.utilitydive.com/spons/from-range-anxiety-to-charger-anxiety-evolving-challenges-for-ev-adoption/588063/
- Relevant Charging Infrastructure – https://www.eesi.org/articles/view/on-the-move-unpacking-the-challenges-and-opportunities-of-electric-vehicles
- Risk and Threats Pertaining to Cyber Attacks – https://upstream.auto/blog/the-hidden-cyber-risks-of-electric-vehicles/
- Charging Capabilities and Time – https://earth911.com/eco-tech/6-issues-with-electric-vehicles/
- Disrupted Supply Chain Networks – https://www.supplychainbrain.com/blogs/1-think-tank/post/31673-how-demand-for-electric-vehicles-will-impact-the-supply-chain
- High Price of Electric Vehicles and Range Anxiety of some countries – https://inc42.com/features/what-are-the-challenges-for-the-ev-market-in-india/
- Grid Capacity – https://www.eesi.org/articles/view/on-the-move-unpacking-the-challenges-and-opportunities-of-electric-vehicles