Summary of Workshop Presentations
The widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) will play a critical role in decarbonizing the transportation sector as the nation moves toward net-zero emissions. Recent announcements from automakers and the federal government,1 as well as provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021,2 aim to stimulate EV deployment, and ongoing technology improvements continue to make EVs a more affordable and practical option. However, many challenges remain to meet the needs of all buyers and drivers and to ensure that manufacturing supply chains and the electric system can support this large-scale transformation.
As a follow-up activity to its 2021 report Assessment of Technologies for Improving Light-Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy—2025-2035,3 the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a 4-day virtual workshop on October 25-28, 2021, to identify some of the challenges to widespread EV deployment and discuss policy, technical, and market strategies to help federal agencies and other stakeholders plan for the future. The first day of the workshop provided an overview of EV technologies, capabilities, and policy and regulatory considerations—including highlights from related content in the aforementioned National Academies report—and examined the role of EVs within a decarbonized transportation system. The subsequent 3 days included more detailed technical discussions on the following topics:
- Vehicle production and life cycle, including impacts to existing supply chains and workforce, new supply chain needs, and end-of-life options such as battery recycling.
1 (a) B. Preston and J.S. Bartlett, 2021, “Automakers Are Adding Electric Vehicles to Their Lineups. Here’s What’s Coming,” Consumer Reports, November 29, https://www.consumerreports.org/hybrids-evs/why-electric-cars-may-soon-flood-the-us-market-a9006292675. (b) U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Transportation, 2021, “DOE and DOT Launch Joint Effort to Build Out Nationwide Electric Vehicle Charging Network,” energy.gov, December 14, https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-and-dot-launch-joint-effort-build-out-nationwide-electric-vehicle-charging-network. (c) J.R. Biden, 2021, “Executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability,” December 8, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/12/08/executive-order-on-catalyzing-clean-energy-industries-and-jobs-through-federal-sustainability.
2 Atlas Public Policy, 2021, “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684): Summary of the EV Provisions,” Washington, DC: Atlas Public Policy, November 17, https://www.atlasevhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/2021-11-17_Infrastructure_Investment_and_Jobs_Act.pdf.
3 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2021, Assessment of Technologies for Improving Light-Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy—2025-2035, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, https://doi.org/10.17226/26092.
- Challenges and solutions for the electric system, including the impacts of mass-market EV deployment on electricity generation and distribution systems as well as technological and consumer considerations for EV charging networks.
- Meeting consumer needs, including current and projected trends in EV adoption and strategies for making EVs affordable and accessible to all buyers and drivers.
The concluding session on the final day featured presentations on options for removing barriers to EV adoption once EVs have reached cost parity with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
The following sections provide factual summaries of the workshop presentations. The views contained in this proceedings are those of the individual workshop participants and do not necessarily represent the views of the participants as a whole or of the National Academies. In addition to the summary provided here, materials related to the workshop can be found on the event webpage,4 including speaker presentations and archived webcasts of the presentations and discussion.
ELECTRIC VEHICLES 101 AND TRANSPORTATION DECARBONIZATION
Steven Cliff, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), opened the workshop with keynote introductory remarks. He began by acknowledging the importance of this and past National Academies’ activities to NHTSA’s efforts promoting road safety and an equitable and environmentally friendly transition to a net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions transportation sector. He expressed optimism about the maximum feasible targets proposed by NHTSA to improve the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards for Model Years 2024-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks. These standards would save billions of dollars for consumers and provide crucial environmental benefits by reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Cliff then turned to the subject of vehicle electrification, describing NHTSA’s research and policy focus on resiliency and cybersecurity issues of vehicle battery management systems.
Gary Marchant, the Regents’ Professor of Law and director of the Center for Law, Science, and Innovation at Arizona State University, provided an overview of the EV landscape within the context of the workshop’s themes. He explained that the workshop was prompted by the 2021 National Academies study on light-duty vehicles (LDVs),5 which provides a broad consensus on the goal, urgency, and ability for a major transition to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035. The transition to a U.S. LDV fleet dominated by ZEVs would involve an unprecedented system-wide change that will affect every aspect of the transportation sector. Many critical and complex issues need to be addressed to manage this transition, including battery capabilities, infrastructure needs, supply chain requirements, regulatory alignment, and more. Marchant then noted that the accelerating momentum toward ZEVs in the United States is primarily due to improvements in battery price and capabilities. In addition, while many U.S. vehicle manufacturers have committed to plans for a transition to an all-electric fleet, recent trends indicate the United States is lagging behind China and Europe in the deployment of EVs (see Figure 1). Marchant specified that there is an impetus for the United States to catch up, not only from an environmental perspective, but also for competitive reasons. He then turned to an important finding from the aforementioned National Academies’ report pointing to consumer unfamiliarity and misperception as a significant barrier to the adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Congress could help overcome these barriers by providing consumer incentives and the electrification infrastructure; further, Congress’s intervention will be required to help resolve technical and legal issues related to ZEV fuel economy. Marchant concluded that despite the challenges, the EV transition is worth pursuing as a society.
Nady Boules, president of NB Motors, LLC, began his presentation by outlining the current state-of-the-art BEV drive systems. After explaining the various components of the EV propulsion drive, Boules emphasized that
4 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2021, “Assessment of Technologies for Improving Fuel Economy of Light-Duty Vehicles—Phase 3 Electric Vehicles Workshop,” October 25-28, https://www.nationalacademies.org/event/10-25-2021/assessment-of-technologies-for-improving-fuel-economy-of-light-duty-vehiclesphase-3-electric-vehicles-workshop.
5 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2021, Assessment of Technologies for Improving Light-Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy—2025-2035, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, https://doi.org/10.17226/26092.
these components are mature technologies and have been refined over decades. The application challenges of these components lie in the need to meet the high torque and power density requirements of EVs. He noted the EV industry has converged on using the permanent magnet synchronous motor drive with rare earth magnets due to its superior efficiency, torque, and power density, despite its relatively higher cost. Boules discussed various strategies to improve performance and reduce the cost of permanent magnet synchronous motors, such as increasing motor speed and using less rare earth magnet material. Boules concluded by providing projected performance improvements associated with advanced motors and power electronics.
Deidre Strand, chief scientific officer at Wildcat Discovery Technologies, discussed the fundamentals of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and explained what is required to improve their performance for EV applications. She described how lithium ions provide a balance between energy and power, making lithium the most suitable element for EV battery applications. Cost, safety, and lifetime are also important performance metrics for automotive batteries. Moreover, an improvement in the performance of a single parameter is often at the detriment of other performance parameters of the battery. For instance, replacing the battery’s active material to improve power, energy density, and lifetime have associated tradeoffs in cost, stability, and supply chain risk that must be managed. Strand emphasized that although the current battery technologies are safe, safety should be an imperative criterion, especially in cases of improving the energy density of batteries. As depicted in Figure 2A, material costs—including those from the cathode, anode, and electrolyte—represent a significant portion of the total cost of the Li-ion cell. Using lower-cost materials, thicker and denser electrodes, less moisture sensitive material, and eliminating or minimizing electrode formation time can be used to improve the performance of Li-ion batteries. In closing, Strand remarked that Li-ion batteries will continue to be the dominant battery technology for EVs and engineering improvements at the module- and pack-level will contribute substantially to EV performance and cost. Battery pack cost projections for 2018-2030 from several studies and automaker statements are shown in Figure 2B.
A presentation by Denise Gray, president of LG Energy Solution Michigan Inc. Tech Center, provided a general overview of the business ecosystem of battery manufacturing. She began by citing ongoing battery manufacturing collaborations between automotive and electronic companies. The business models for these collaborations are often direct purchase or joint venture agreements. Gray added that there are ongoing efforts to develop new business models to secure the supply of battery technologies to meet the growing demand for EVs. These business models consider not only the needs of the manufacturer but also the business needs of partners along the battery technology supply chain. Satisfying the business and operation needs of other sub-suppliers and partners is crucial to sustaining and securing the supply of batteries. Gray spoke about the importance of stakeholders at
the state, federal, and local levels in helping to secure the investment infrastructure required to deploy battery manufacturing facilities. In addition, she acknowledged the role laboratories, universities, and automotive manufacturing firms have played to improve the cost-effectiveness of battery technology. Moving forward, the future cost and efficiency improvements in battery technologies cannot be achieved in isolation but will require system integration with other components of the EV.
A presentation by AK Srouji, chief technology officer at Romeo Power, complemented those of Strand and Boules by providing a state-of-the-industry perspective on EV battery and electronic management systems. He discussed the battery system in terms of four main pillars: Cell Science, Module Technology, Pack Technology, and Battery Management Systems (BMSs). From the cell science point of view, a resurgence of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) is becoming apparent for vehicles with low to medium range, while nickel-rich cells (nickel-cobalt-manganese and nickel-cobalt-aluminum) remain the choice for longer-range vehicles, necessitating highest energy density. Thermal management begins with module technology that works to maintain the battery temperature within the ideal operating window of 25 to 35 degrees Celsius, which is crucial for ensuring the battery lasts the lifetime of the vehicle. Additionally, pack technology incorporates safety features and mitigates risk from crashes and other large loads, such as vibration, and ensures protection from the environment (water intrusion, humidity, debris). Lastly, the BMS functions as the brain of the battery by overseeing control functions, managing safety-critical decisions, and evaluating battery states, such as state of charge (SOC) and state of health (SOH). In closing, Srouji discussed some key performance indicators for battery system energy density and safety, emphasizing the importance of safety features such as single cell fault tolerance, whereby thermal runaway in a given cell stays contained and does not spread to other neighboring cells.
Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, discussed the need to rethink transportation decarbonization through the lens of local communities most affected by the impacts of fossil fuel use and climate damage; this implies a reconsideration of the policies and interventions that are incentivizing the adoption of EVs. Cooke emphasized that new car buyers are generally not representative of communities being affected by the adverse impacts of fossil power. He further illustrated how eligibility caps have, in the past, incentivized incremental sales while excluding the neediest demographic for whom new vehicle purchase is not a preferred option. Cooke cited the fact that California’s priorities for broader clean vehicle adoption have moved toward a more targeted program that better addresses these inequities. Another critical policy challenge is inequalities associated with federal support for EV charging. Since home charging remains the dominant mode of charging EVs, households living in multi-unit dwellings are at a significant disadvantage to access charging. Even with public-funded charging, there is evidence from California that these sites tend to track the demographic of the early EV adopter market rather than those of the communities most affected by car and truck pollution. Moving forward, new policy paradigms are needed that provide solutions for communities that stand to benefit the most from the adoption of EVs, tackling long-standing inequities and justice while reckoning with climate change. Cooke concluded with a discussion of policies for EVs and electric charging that could achieve that goal, including new vehicle regulations, accessible financing, used-vehicle incentives, early vehicle retirement programs, filling charging information gaps, providing charging for communities not passersby, and addressing building codes.
A presentation by Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision, provided insights into the consumer psychology impacts associated with BEV adoption. He began by overviewing the significant barriers to owning a BEV (see Figure 3). For most new car buyers in the United States, the ancillary cost and compromise associated with BEVs often discourages their purchase. In contrast, among early EV adopters, the extra cost and compromises of EVs are often overlooked in favor of advantages such as quiet performance, powerful torque, and near-instant acceleration. Edwards illustrated how changes in personal mobility needs and working conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have increased consumer interest in BEVs. With this interest, the EV industry is presented with an opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of potential consumers. Edwards remarked that different subgroups within the BEV consumer market have varying EV feature preferences; for example, he noted that most current BEV buyers purchase the vehicles for their superior performance and acceleration compared to ICE vehicles, but other individuals purchase BEVs for environmental reasons or because they want to own an “innovative, smart, and cool” vehicle. Edwards concluded on the note that BEVs are in a very competitive landscape with ICE vehicles and all other alternative powertrain vehicles.
Kate Whitefoot, associate professor of mechanical engineering and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, began her presentation by highlighting the need to evaluate the potential behavior of mainstream BEV adopters considering the fact that future BEV consumers will be different from current early adopters. Representing a major shift in technology and consumer behavior, the adoption of BEVs may be impeded by numerous barriers, including limited range, risk aversion, and unfamiliarity with BEV technology. Improving the range of EVs as well as increasing consumer familiarity can help overcome these barriers. In her concluding remarks, Whitefoot asserted that mainstream adoption of BEVs is expected as they near cost parity with their equivalent gasoline counterparts. To reflect this increasing market share, federal agencies should begin to consider ZEVs when setting vehicle efficiency and emissions standards. In response to a public question about consumer “range anxiety,” Whitefoot emphasized the need for more research looking at multivehicle households, and suggested consumers may be more comfortable using their BEVs for short range commuting and their ICE vehicle for longer distance trips.
Joshua Linn, associate professor at the University of Maryland and senior fellow at Resources for the Future, focused on EV consumer adoption behavior and the effectiveness of policy instruments, such as subsidies in promoting the adoption of EVs. Citing a study by Leard et al. (2019), Linn explained how federal and state subsidies account for about half of new EV sales in 2019. Using the same reference, he explained how lower-income groups are more responsive to the prices of EV compared to high-income groups. Linn then discussed the effectiveness and impacts of three possible scenarios for extending EV subsidies, indicating that low-income subsidies tend to be more cost-effective in driving EV purchases, given that low-income consumers tend to have a lower EV demand and are more price sensitive. Linn concluded by discussing the interplay and interaction between subsidies and other emission and efficiency policy targets, asserting that income-based subsidies would be regressive in the short run because of interactions with other policies.
Rachael Nealer, deputy director for transportation technology and policy for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, outlined a selection of federal investments and policy interventions targeting transportation decarbonization. She emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis by decarbonizing all sectors across the economy to reach the overall goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Nealer then highlighted the urgency of scaling up EV adoption to meet both near- and long-term transportation decarbonization
goals. The Biden administration will make investments in response to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to ramp up transportation electrification in alignment with the administration’s Justice40 Initiative on environmental justice. The same bill has also allotted provisions for grants that support electrification, equitable deployment of EV network infrastructure, and electrification of school bus fleets. Additionally, the federal government has a role in regulating the policy landscape of transportation sector decarbonization. Aviation decarbonization has been a priority for the Biden administration and in the near-term, meeting mitigation targets will require partnerships that spur the deployment of billions of gallons of sustainable aviation fuel within the decade. In closing, Nealer articulated that decarbonization of the transportation sector is required in order to address the climate crisis.
A presentation by Patty Monahan, commissioner at the California Energy Commission (CEC), provided an overview and outlook of California’s climate change policies with a focus on zero-emission transportation. She began with a brief historical background on California, highlighting the state as a forerunner in the adoption of zero-emission transportation policies. She followed the historical context with a discussion on California’s clean electricity goals, noting that meeting the goal of 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2045 would also benefit transportation decarbonization, since there would be no emissions associated with BEV charging. Furthermore, Monahan illustrated how the burden of transportation-related pollution is disproportionately borne by low-income and minority communities (see Figure 4), and stressed the need to address these disproportionate impacts not only in California, but across the United States. She then discussed California’s EV goals and budget priorities targeting these goals. Despite the upward trajectory of California’s ZEV adoption since 2011, there is a massive scale-up
gap in passenger vehicle charging infrastructure that needs to be reached by 2030. As the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market grows, investing in school buses with vehicle-to-grid capability and managing charging impacts on the grid to maximize renewable energy use will be critical.
Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California (UC), Davis, discussed the trajectory and potential impact of EVs from a policy, regulatory, and academic perspective. He began by emphasizing that the future of EVs is mostly socially determined, in that the market penetration of EVs will be dependent on policy and consumer choice. As such, the deployment of EVs is a policy imperative for decarbonizing the U.S. economy. For example, aggressive low-carbon surface transport policies will result in carbon emissions reductions, cost savings, and lower health costs. Sperling reiterated the insights from the previous speaker about how consumers do not make their purchase decisions based solely on the total cost of ownership; rather individual buyers are conservative about their choices and are concerned about factors such as resale value, the future cost of energy, loss aversion, and range anxiety. Given these challenges, incentives will be needed to spur the adoption of EVs. These incentives do not necessarily have to be borne by the taxpayer; instead, innovative schemes such as feebates6 could be considered. Using insights from consumer behavior research, Sperling explained that capturing the first 50 percent of LDV market share will be relatively easy compared to the last 30 percent due to consumer heterogeneity in ideology and preferences. Government assistance and funding will be required to ensure the charging infrastructure is accessible and reliable to many consumers, and to spur innovation and transform the business model around charging infrastructure. Sperling added that most legacy U.S. automakers are holding back on the production of EVs; thus, aggressive regulations will be an important lever necessary to accelerate EV deployment. In his closing remarks, Sperling emphasized the need for EV policy incentives to promote vehicle purchases and send a clear market signal to consumers.
VEHICLE PRODUCTION AND LIFE CYCLE
Kristin Dziczek, senior vice president of research at the Center for Automotive Research, began her presentation with a discussion of the vulnerabilities and sensitivities of the U.S. automobile industry to supply chain disruptions stemming from factors such as natural disasters, labor disputes, shipping disruptions, and more. For example, Dziczek warned that increasing BEV/PHEV production while decreasing ICE production could lead to low productivity and potential plant shutdowns and consolidations. She suggested that suppliers tied to ICE engines will make fewer and fewer parts as ICE LDV production declines, while the scale of manufacturing EV parts and components will remain insufficient for some time. Dziczek noted that the novelty of EV production lines is disrupting the entire ecosystem of the automobile industry. This includes upending existing supply chains with new entrants in the form of joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, and new leaders. Automakers are adopting new strategies to cater to these supply chain and material sourcing disruptions caused by the EV transition. Dzieczek added that the application of multi-use platforms, propulsion components, and uniform design architecture are a few examples of strategies employed by automakers to reduce EV manufacturing complexity. In her concluding remarks, Dzieczek suggested that as PEVs disrupt the automobile industry, both supplier and manufacturer will have to adapt to changes in the supply-chain needs of the BEV industry. When asked about semiconductor supply chain issues, she remarked that the average [ICE] vehicle has $300 in semiconductor content compared to nearly $3,000 in some BEVs. Building new capacity at the scale needed will take time and costs will be steep, at ~$12 billion to $14 billion for a new semiconductor plant.
Brad Markell, executive director of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, opened by emphasizing that the switch to EVs might have some very deep and potentially troubling implications for communities and the labor economy at large. He alluded to the fact that the barriers to entry in the EV industry are relatively low compared to the traditional automotive industry due to the EV market’s lower ratio of capital to labor requirement. Markell emphasized that the switch to EVs might create a lot of opportunities for automation and simpler assembly lines.
6 A feebate for energy efficient products incentivizes purchase of efficient products and disincentivizes purchases of inefficient products. The purchasers of efficient products are provided a rebate, and purchasers of inefficient products are charged a fee. The revenues from fees fund rebates.
These opportunities for new players could potentially disrupt the automobile labor economy. Markell closed his presentation by remarking that the successful ramping up of EVs will require the full suite of government support and policies that promote the rapid transitions to EVs while ensuring the domestic inflow of the labor benefits.
Zoe Lipman, director of manufacturing and advanced transportation at the BlueGreen Alliance, discussed the policy actions required to strengthen automobile manufacturing and supply chains. Lipman emphasized that pro-climate policies are aligned with pro-worker and environmental justice agendas. Advanced manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure for the EV industry will play an important role in the transition to a clean fuel economy. The auto industry is at a crossroads, with both domestic and international players moving swiftly to shape the competitive landscape. Sound policies will be required to shape the competitive edge of the U.S. economy in capturing the manufacturing and supply chains of EVs. Lipman believes there are tremendous opportunities to affect the outcomes of jobs through policies that ensure beneficial gain to the U.S. economy. She further stated that about 220,000 manufacturing jobs hinge on whether the shift to EVs takes place, together with policies that ensure the on-shoring of the EV supply chain and production. Lipman concluded that the United States can ensure a successful EV transition by investing in manufacturing retooling and conversion, re-shoring, and filling critical supply chain gaps.
Warren Day, research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Resources Program, provided an overview of the critical minerals and resources needed for EV manufacturing. He noted that the United States is highly import-reliant on a large and growing number of mineral commodities required for EV manufacturing.7 The USGS is undertaking several initiatives that provide access to basic geoscience information, which can help accelerate a better understanding of the mineral endowment of the United States. Day provided the example of the ongoing Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI), which seeks to improve our knowledge of the U.S. geologic framework in areas permissive for hosting undiscovered critical mineral resources. Figure 5, for example, shows the locations of significant lithium deposits. This generation of geoscience data is the first step in a 5-10-year exploration and licensing process that culminates in the opening of a mine. Additionally, Day discussed the details of GeoDaWN, a geoscience data acquisition project in Western Nevada aimed at collecting high-resolution airborne magnetic, radiometric, and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data to understand the region’s geology, natural resources, and geologic hazards. Day concluded his presentation by indicating that the USGS aims to collect geoscience data on subsurface mineral resources from unconventional sources, such as mine waste, to recover additional critical mineral commodities.
David Klanecky, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Piedmont Lithium, elaborated on the importance and opportunities of localizing the lithium-ion battery supply chain within the United States. Klanecky began by discussing the market dynamics of lithium, pointing to the fact that demand is expected to grow significantly in the future with high EV penetration as the United States moves toward electrifying its transportation systems. He highlighted the projected domestic shortfalls in the supply of lithium to meet this increased demand for lithium-ion battery technologies and a call to action by companies and the U.S. government to address this challenge. Additionally, he noted that about 90 percent of the global supply of lithium hydroxide material used in high energy density lithium-ion batteries is being produced in China. Klanecky explained that there is growing interest in the United States and Europe for the localization and regionalization of the lithium supply chain for the reasons of supply security, lowering cost, increasing speed to market, and reducing environmental footprints. If the supply chain of lithium batteries is not localized, the United States stands to lose about $100 billion by 2040 due to the need of imported materials. Klanecky concluded by emphasizing the importance of localizing the lithium supply chain from a national and energy security perspective.
Celina Mikolajczak, vice president of manufacturing engineering at QuantumScape, provided a general overview of the supply chain needs for lithium battery production. The typical lithium-ion cell supply chain is a sophisticated ecosystem made up of specialized factories that create the highly refined and engineered components of batteries. Mikolajczak noted that the factory equipment supporting lithium batteries is also complicated, as it operates under conditions of high production rates and holds micron-level tolerances under
7 See U.S. Geological Survey, 2021, “Mineral Commodity Summaries 2021,” https://doi.org/10.3133/mcs2021, which lists manganese, cobalt, graphite, and rare earth elements as among the critical minerals needs.
extreme cleanliness requirements. Moreover, the operation and maintenance of cell-making equipment and factories require highly skilled machinists, mechanics, and engineers. Mikolajczak concluded with a discussion of two major challenges facing this industry: the near total absence of U.S. suppliers of engineered cell materials and cell-making factory equipment; and the lack of sufficient production and engineering staff in cell-making factories. During the question and answer session, she elaborated that factories supporting the lithium battery supply chain will likely be sited near resources, the ultimate customer, or sites with abundant energy available for the factory processes.
Linda Gaines, chief scientist of the ReCell Center for Battery Recycling at Argonne National Laboratory, (ANL) began by introducing ReCell, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiative seeking to significantly reduce U.S. dependence on critical raw material imports by use of recycled material feedstocks. Gaines emphasized Mikolajczak’s point that critical deficiencies exist in our ability to purify and refine materials along the U.S. lithium battery supply chain. Limited reserves of critical resources and the lack of U.S. processing capacity highlight the importance of recycling. Even with recycling as a viable material source, the United States would have to develop the manufacturing infrastructure to handle intermediate products. Gaines defined the direct recycling of batteries’ critical material as a process of recovering and reusing cathode material without breaking down its chemical structure. Direct recycling represents the lowest impact and highest revenue option compared to pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical recycling processes (see Figure 6). Gaines noted that scrap from battery cell manufacturing is currently the most viable feedstock for direct recycling because it does not require purification and is less energy-intensive to process. In addition to the economic gain, the direct recycling of cathodes can reduce significant environmental impacts in various categories such as GHGs and water use. Gaines concluded her presentation by highlighting some critical challenges and barriers facing the recycling industry, including, but not limited to, securing industry buy-in for commercialization and developing novel recycling processes for future battery technologies.
A presentation by Fan Dai, executive director of the California-China Climate Institute at UC Berkeley highlighted the current and future EV battery reuse and recycling policies in China. Dai began with an overview of the EV battery industry in China, noting that battery reuse and recycling policies will play a crucial role as China reaches higher volumes of ZEV sales. She also indicated that there is an increasing shift from nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide batteries to LFP batteries due to safety, lower cost, consumer preference for shorter-range vehicles, and domestic manufacturing capabilities. Dai then discussed two policy initiatives in China that aim to identify the requirements of companies that use battery packs from retired EVs and encourage cooperation between battery manufacturers and reuse companies. Dai concluded her presentation by indicating that the United States is lagging behind China and the European Union in establishing policy guidelines for EV battery reuse and recycling at the national level; to this end, drawing lessons from China and the European Union could help to establish a more sustainable EV supply chain in the United States. As a follow up to a public question about battery passports and state of health information, Dai stressed the need for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to capture the right business model in terms of repurposing, reusing, and recycling used batteries, also noting the fact that around 15GW of batteries will need to be recycled in China in 2030.
Building on the previous presentations, Anna Stefanopoulou, the William Clay Ford Professor of Technology at the University of Michigan, discussed the opportunities and challenges of battery middle-life from the perspectives of cost of degradation and the value of prognostics. Stefanopoulou noted that there are good reasons for paying attention to the middle-life of lithium-ion batteries as it pertains to decisions about repair, reuse, refurbishment, and repurposing. Moreover, she alluded to the fact that this is a large decision problem, and making such a decision about middle-life processes will require a significant amount of information gathering and field data collection to understand the monitoring and management for recycling and repurposing. Manufacturers have acted accordingly by developing telematics to collect field data; however, that data are irregular and the sensors tend to introduce noise biases among other engineering issues. Moving forward, the ability to project and extrapolate the performance of cells, packs, and modules will be critical to making a business decision for reuse and repair (see Figure 7). The projection of capacity degradation is particularly important in this regard, both for cost replacement warranties to the user and companies, and for the environment. Stefanopoulou added that even in a laboratory, assessing the
degradation modes for groups of cells has proven difficult. She believes developing a stronger understanding of how to adapt and control system degradation will ultimately result in more opportunities to stretch the utilization of the batteries. In closing, Stefanopoulou highlighted the importance of monitoring the SOC and the SOH in the context of performance and the cost of materials.
David Howell, acting director of the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE, opened by outlining the strategies of VTO aimed at decarbonizing transportation across all modes. He discussed President Biden’s Executive Order (EO) on America’s Supply Chains (EO 14017),8 focusing on the high-capacity battery supply chain in particular, and highlighted key vulnerabilities in U.S. lithium-ion battery supply chains, including the supply of class 1 nickel, lithium, and cobalt; the major upstream deficit in mineral refinement and processing; cathode and anode production in the mid-stream; and the present lag in domestic demand and recycling for lithium-ion batteries downstream of the supply chain (see Figure 8). Howell outlined key recommendations associated with high-capacity battery supply chain reports, including stimulating demand, strengthening key battery mineral supplies, promoting battery materials, cell and pack production, and investing in people and innovations. Howell concluded by highlighting key innovation focus areas of the VTO to decrease cost, reliance on critical minerals, and charging time for EV battery cells.
Renata Arsenault, technical expert for advanced battery recycling at Ford Motor Company, began by providing key projections that underscore the expected increase in the demand for battery cells and materials. She pointed to the fact that China has gained a strategic advantage by capturing dominance across all processes along the battery supply chain, which poses a risk to U.S. energy security (see Figure 9). Arsenault suggested that there has been disproportionate investment in downstream market segments at the expense of upstream infrastructure in the United States. Mobilizing the battery supply chain will require the deployment of novel supply chains and additional investment in upstream and midstream infrastructure. Arsenault noted that while the recycling of scrap material from aged EVs can play a strategic role in offsetting the primary demand for battery raw materials, there
8 J.R. Biden, 2021, “Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains,” February 24, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/02/24/executive-order-on-americas-supply-chains.
is a noteworthy lag in the timing and volume for the supply of recycling feedstock. Arsenault emphasized that the lithium-ion battery value chain varies depending on the recycling process design and the intermediate materials. These differences often represent supply chain re-entry challenges, which automakers can rectify by working with other supply chain entities to ensure the quality of intermediate materials meets the standards of re-entry. In closing, Arsenault remarked that emerging environmental, social, and corporate governance considerations in the EV industry have contributed to a global shift in the battery manufacturing and recycling processes.
Remarks by John Graham, professor of risk analysis at Indiana University, highlighted discrepancies between national government and local community interests related to acquiring raw materials for EV production. He illustrated this point using the example of lithium, first outlining why lithium mining and processing requirements will remain high through at least 2030: (1) EV battery chemistries will continue using significant amounts of lithium; (2) recycling lithium-ion batteries is currently not commercially viable; and (3) long vehicle lifetimes mean that there will be little lithium available for recycling and reuse. At the same time, lithium supply is not expanding rapidly enough to meet demand, in large part due to local opposition in areas with accessible lithium that results from concerns about stress on water systems, water quality, and impacts on other local businesses such as farms, ranches, and tourist operations. Such community opposition lengthens the permitting timeframe for lithium mining and processing. Graham further added that federal governments are not structured to address these issues; as an example, DOE is the lead agency to handle lithium supply, but permitting decisions reside with the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Consequently, lithium prices have soared to record 3-year highs in 2021, which, as Graham pointed out, could make meeting DOE’s $60 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) goal difficult, but may increase the profitability of recycling. To conclude, Graham emphasized that similar price increases are seen with other materials for lithium-ion batteries and electric motors, which will make it more difficult for EVs to reach cost-parity with ICE vehicles and could slow consumer adoption.
CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS FOR THE ELECTRIC SYSTEM
To begin, Chris Nelder, creator and host of the Energy Transition Show podcast, discussed the complexities and challenges related to the grid side of EV integration. He indicated that the load requirement for EV charging can be very significant depending on the size and number of chargers. Direct current (DC) fast charging is a whole different game, Nelder added, and the industry is currently deploying DC chargers that exceed 150 kW. A charging station with six 150 kW DC chargers is equivalent to a load of a high-rise office building. This amount of load will have a significant impact on the grid and will require substantial investment in distribution system upgrades, Nelder explained. Utilities would require years of advanced planning to be able to accommodate the load increase associated with the EV transition. Additionally, Nelder noted that commercial fleet managers also need to prepare for the coming wave of vehicle electrification by equipping their yards and depots with charging stations. Nelder described two main techniques for effective EV load management: passive techniques like the design of utility tariffs for peak and off-peak charging and active techniques like using aggregators to control chargers and utilities controlling charges. On this note, Nelder hinted that the redesign of the grid is especially important to accommodate DC fast charging in areas with high loads. In addition, novel and innovative rate designs are critical to making the business model of DC fast charging more profitable. Permitting hurdles and poor guidance from utilities represent a major challenge and often cause the deployment of EV charging to be prohibitively expensive. Nelder concluded by remarking that deployment of EV charging is a complex problem that needs to be tackled at the legislative and utility levels.
A presentation by Matthew Cloud, lead EV engineer at National Grid, explored the grid impacts of EV fleets. In opening, Cloud stated that the push to accelerate vehicle electrification is a key strategy to decarbonize the U.S. economy. Due to commitments and mandates to decarbonize the transportation sector, fleet electrification is also expected to accelerate rapidly. Cloud noted that fleets are very suitable for electrification due to their high utilization rate and predictable travel distance. Moreover, electrified fleets can substantially improve air quality in disadvantaged communities. Citing a study conducted by National Grid,9 Cloud explained that the full electrification of fleets in clustered locations could increase peak load on some circuits by more than 300 percent. The support for these electrical loads will require additional transmission and distribution solutions. In addition, seasonality can severely impact the peak load of the grid due to charging efficiency. Cloud suggested that minimum charging strategies that optimize charging utilization could significantly reduce grid impacts and the impact of fleet cluster electrification at the substation levels. Cloud closed by stating that long-term system
9 National Grid and Hitachi ABB Power Grids, 2021, “The Road to Transportation Decarbonization: Understanding Grid Impacts of Electric Fleets,” September, https://www.nationalgridus.com/media/pdfs/microsites/ev-fleet-program/understandinggridimpactsofelectricfleets.pdf.
planning and collaboration among stakeholders are critical to unlocking the potential for fleet electrification and reducing significant grid impacts.
Rohan Patel, senior global director of public policy and business development at Tesla, began by emphasizing the notion that EV charging can increase overall grid-system utilization and drive down rates through kWh billing. Rate design will be critical for the long-term success of utilities providing services for residential and nonresidential EV charging users. Patel noted the importance of managing the non-coincident load demand for EVs to sustain the charging infrastructure by ensuring the EV load factor does not lead to higher energy costs. The soft costs associated with permitting and planning of EV charging stations are a major impediment, Patel observed. Volumetric time-of-use rates can be used to encourage good charging behavior, while gamifying and using simple tools can be an effective strategy to manage and encourage appropriate time-of-use practices. In closing, Patel stated that solving the current grid integration challenges associated with energy-producing assets, such as solar and wind, can provide an important roadmap for vehicle-grid integration (VGI).
Michael Kintner-Meyer, research engineer and systems analyst at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), framed his remarks by illustrating the complexity associated with EV grid integration from an electricity supply perspective. Using a back-of-envelope calculation, Kintner-Meyer showed that electric energy requirements to meet the current annual miles for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles are about 60 percent of the current electricity generation capacity in the United States. The power requirements for charging all on-road vehicles, assuming perfect load management, would be about 260 gigawatts of fully dispatchable generation. Kintner-Meyer noted that these are big numbers that will translate into huge grid investment needs. He then introduced and demonstrated the application of a distribution system analysis tool developed by PNNL with a case study in West Hollywood, California. This tool can help identify constrained components and location-specific bottlenecks in the grid while also supporting mitigation strategies to overcome bottlenecks. The PNNL team aims to further develop the tool and make it readily available to all utility and grid planners.
Jeremy Michalek, professor of engineering and public policy, professor of mechanical engineering, and director of the Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University, opened by emphasizing that U.S. public charging infrastructure is lagging behind that of other major countries. He noted that limited household parking is a major impediment to BEV adoption in the United States. Without major infrastructure changes, the complete EV fleet transition is likely unrealistic. Additionally, high-speed public chargers will play a crucial role in the EV transition. However, even the highest speed charger may create some level of inconvenience (i.e., long queues) at service stations. Priorities to meet the public infrastructure needs include deploying high-speed charging along interstates and in neighborhoods where households depend on public chargers. Michalek then discussed EV charging from a life-cycle assessment (LCA) perspective. The literature on the impacts of EV charging can be confusing and can lead to cherry-picking data, Michalek observed. The confusion stems from the differences in fundamental questions and scopes of the research domain. Michalek explained that there are two main types of LCA questions: attributional and consequential. Attributional LCA research addresses the question of what emissions an EV is associated with or responsible for, while consequential LCA addresses the question of how emissions would change with greater EV adoption or EV policy. Michalek stated that consequential emissions are often fraught with high uncertainty due to potential changes in grid emissions over time, which is why some modelers prefer to use attributional methods and average emission factors. Depending on what question is being asked, it would be appropriate to either attempt to model and characterize the uncertainty rather than ignore the uncertainty, Michalek asserted. Furthermore, the relative consequential GHG benefits of EVs vary widely and depend on vehicle characteristics, regional grid mix, driving pattern, and climate. Michalek added that, generally speaking, vehicle-grid and utility-controlled charging can reduce costs of electricity generation, yet in certain regions, the consequential emission damage of coal plants can outweigh generation savings. In closing, Michalek remarked that coal retirement is central to making sure that vehicle electrification is in society’s best interest.
Yamen Nanne, manager of distribution system development at the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), discussed the ongoing efforts of LADWP to prepare its electric grid for the onslaught of EV charging in the Los Angeles service territory. To begin, Nanne discussed the aggressive local and state-level policies and EV adoption targets driving transportation electrification in the city of Los Angeles. Representing about 10 percent of the state population, Los Angeles has set a goal of 750,000 light-duty EVs by 2030, which
would require converting about 25 percent of the LDVs in the city. To accommodate that level of EV adoption, Nanne stated that the city would need about 120,000 charging stations in its service territory, including 3,000 fast chargers by 2030. Citing the LA100 Study conducted by LADWP and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL),10 Nanne explained that electrifying about 80 percent of LDVs by 2050 would increase peak load by about 900-2700 megawatts (MW). He continued that LADWP currently offers EV commercial charging rate options to help encourage charging during off-peak and mid-peak hours. Nonetheless, with higher penetration of renewables and EVs, LADWP would have to redesign the time-of-use rates to align peak load EV charging with the peak supply of renewable electricity. Nanne noted that the LA100 identified Level 1 and 2 charging as significant contributors to the load in the year 2045, amounting to 2000-3000 MW (see Figure 10). Access to workplace charging infrastructure can help better align renewable generation with EV charging, Nanne concluded. In response to a question about alternative charging scenarios especially for dense urban areas, Nanne also described deploying curbside charging on light poles as well as sidewalk-placed chargers, which were some of the most utilized chargers in their service area.
Deepak Divan, professor and director of the Center for Distributed Energy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, elaborated on the challenges and opportunities of EV charging infrastructure. He noted that the transformation to a low-carbon economy cannot be achieved with 20th-century grid technologies alone. Divan believes that the poor efficiency of the ICE (using only 21 percent of the input energy), and the rapid emergence of lower-cost, higher-performance EV alternatives make the transition to a more efficient and carbon-neutral transportation sector unavoidable. A 60 percent year-over-year growth of EVs is starting to be observed, which implies a mid-level estimate of about 125 million EVs by 2040. Divan added that the rapid growth of transportation electrification will place enormous stress on the grid, drawing attention to the challenges of fast charging infrastructure in particular, such as cost-effective deployment, the possibility of poor utilization, challenges of grid access and peak stress on the grid, and viable business models. Divan then turned the discussion toward the utility level, where EV integration will pose some operational challenges; for example, changes resulting from EV integration can disrupt the business model of the utility, which often operates in a regulated and risk-averse environment. Divan underscored the fact
10 J. Cochran and P. Denholm, eds., 2021, The Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study, NREL/TP-6A20-79444, Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, https://maps.nrel.gov/la100.
that tackling these grid integration challenges will require a holistic approach to address problems of sustainability, reliability, resiliency, affordability, and life-cycle cost. Decentralized generation and distributed energy resources for resiliency and grid services can offer a unique opportunity to serve the transportation needs. These new grid capabilities are currently being deployed in isolation and integrating these functionalities can be cost-effective. For instance, the use of grid-connected EVs for grid resiliency and grid support could pay for charging infrastructure. Divan concluded that the grid is on the cusp of fundamental transformation, and many of the elements are not under the control of the industry, which is why a holistic approach is needed.
Eric Cutter, senior director at E3, presented on grid distribution planning as a potential enabler or constraint to high vehicle electrification. He started by distinguishing between primary and secondary costs of grid distribution. Most studies on the cost and impact of vehicle electrification have been focused on the primary cost, Cutter explained. The primary cost is dominantly driven by the coincidence peak load at the sub-station level, while the secondary cost occurs at the final distributions line of the grid. The primary cost typically ranges between $20-170/kWh compared to the secondary cost of under $5/kWh. Referencing a national study on the potential distribution of high electrification loads, Cutter explained that the connected load for EVs can be significant due to the large magnitude of EV charging, potentially leading to significant investment costs. Currently, utilities are able to manage the coincident peak load to reduce the primary distribution cost, but they have limited capability in managing the secondary cost; this stems from the unwillingness of conservative engineers to adopt strategies and concerns about the disruptions high electrification can cause on the distribution system. Cutter also highlighted affordability as another concern, pointing to the aforementioned study which shows that adding all the EV load with an appropriate load management system can reduce the distribution rates by about 5 percent. The distribution system will be a key enabler or inhibitor for electrification.
Karen Glitman, senior director of distributed energy resources at the Center for Sustainable Energy, focused her presentation on the load profiles for EV charging and their related impacts on electricity generation. She explained that the LDV sector is the single largest contributor to GHG emissions in the United States, and load management of EVs will play a key role in the efficient adoption of EVs. Glitman added that the flexible load cycle of LDVs presents an interesting opportunity to consider them as mobile appliances or batteries on wheels. The levers for controlling EV loads, she continued, can be achieved through direct or indirect means like time-of-use rates. Additionally, EVs have the built-in capability to respond to utility signals that control and shift utilization and the charging rate. Glitman believes these capabilities can serve as a useful tool and asset for grid managers. In terms of market opportunities, Glitman explained that EV charging can serve as a revenue stream for property owners as deployment and charge requirements reach substantial levels. Homeowners associations, fleets, airports, and car rentals can all tap into this market opportunity. Glitman closed by emphasizing time-of-use, location, and load size as important considerations to ensure an efficient, expeditious, and equitable transition to a clean transportation future.
Jason Hills, manager of distribution and electrification at LADWP, started his presentation by recognizing LADWP’s successful installation of more than 10,000 commercial charging stations in the city of Los Angeles—ahead of the city’s 2022 target. With Governor Newsom’s new EO banning the sale of gas power vehicles by 2035,11 the city of Los Angeles needs to reach more aggressive milestones. The city will need about 120,000 charging stations by 2030, Hills added. Citing the LA100 study conducted by LADWP and the NREL,12 Hills then explained that an 80 percent adoption of light-duty EVs by 2045 will significantly impact the electric system load profile. The LADWP distribution planning and development team are taking proactive measures to accommodate the load growth from EV charging in the near term. Based on the most recent adoption trends and forecasts, LADWP anticipates a fivefold increase in peak load over the next 10 years. Most of this growth will occur on 34.5kV systems due to this system’s ability to handle larger and higher power capacities than one can expect from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. To handle the anticipated load from EVs, LADWP is also upgrading its
11 Newsom, 2020, “Executive Order N-79-20,” Executive Department, State of California, September 23, https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/9.23.20-EO-N-79-20-Climate.pdf.
12 J. Cochran and P. Denholm, eds., 2021, The Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study, NREL/TP-6A20-79444, Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, https://maps.nrel.gov/la100.
distribution system with new stations, voltage conversion, and automation. At the substation level, the distributional planning team anticipates major upgrades to the receiving and distribution stations by 2035. As part of its grid modernization efforts, LADWP is looking to convert portions of the 4.8kV distribution to a higher voltage, a process that will help reduce losses, increase capacity for loads, and enable the hosting of higher distributed energy resources. In addition to upgrading the core grid infrastructure, Hills said, LADWP is also exploring cost-effective load management programs to accommodate the vehicle to grid transition.
Sara Baldwin, director of electrification policy at Energy Innovation, summarized findings from a report13 focusing on the impacts of transportation electrification on consumers, emissions, public health, employment, and the electric grid. The study explored two comparative scenarios: a drive clean scenario and a no new policy scenario (see Figure 11). Baldwin explained that the drive clean scenario assumes EVs as 100 percent of new LDV sales by 2030, EVs as 100 percent of new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales by 2035, and a 90 percent clean electricity grid by 2035. In the “Drive Clean” scenario, there would be a substantial ramp-up of EV adoption compared to the business-as-usual, “No New Policy” case. Key findings from the report show that accelerating EVs and a clean grid can lead to significant benefits for the economy, the average consumer, and the environment. These benefits include consumer savings of about $2.7 trillion between 2020 and 2030, the creation of some 2 million jobs by 2035, and a 96 percent reduction in pollution-related premature deaths by 2050. Referring again to the study, Baldwin underscored the finding that a 90 percent clean grid can indeed handle the additional demand from the drive clean scenario. Consistently, the results also indicated that the grid can support a 90 percent clean energy portfolio without adverse impacts on overall reliability. As the costs of renewables and storage continue to decline, the drive clean scenario results suggest that the average cost may decline for the average ratepayer. Highlighting relevant insights from a companion policy report, Baldwin explained that many of the policy and regulatory pathways considered in the report are either under way or under discussion in some form across states.
13 Energy Innovation, Goldman School of Public Policy, and GridLab, 2021, 2035 Report 2.0: Plummeting Costs and Dramatic Improvements in Batteries Can Accelerate Our Clean Transportation Future, April, http://www.2035report.com/transportation/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/2035Report2.0-1.pdf?hsCtaTracking=544e8e73-752a-40ee-b3a5-90e28d5f2e18%7C81c0077a-d01d-45b9-a338-fcaef78a20e7.
Maria Bocanegra, commissioner with the Illinois Commerce Commission, discussed the regulatory opportunities and challenges for massive EV adoption and grid impacts from a policy perspective. She emphasized that incentives represent an opportunity for regulators to review and manage grid investments for vehicle integration. As an example, tailored qualifying infrastructure or distribution improvement charges can be used to incentivize utilities by providing a guaranteed return on investments through surcharge rates. Bocanegra cautioned that these investments ought to be prudent, reasonable, and at the least cost. Another policy opportunity lies in the potential for data generation and access that comes with the ability to communicate and interact with grid operators and EV consumers. Bocanegra added that telemetric technologies that capture data also present an opportunity for regulators in determining whether utilities are managing their grid as effectively and efficiently as possible. Moreover, data access allows utilities to address system operational challenges and for strategic investment planning. Bocanegra highlighted several policy opportunities, including interagency coordination and addressing ownership of and access to behind-the-meter assets, especially when pairing charging with renewable sources. She noted that memoranda of understanding are beginning to emerge among utilities around electrification to establish national charging station corridors. Bocanegra then drew attention to some of the major policy impediments, asserting for example that the balancing act between affordable rates and ensuring that utility investments result in reliable services is an important challenge for regulators. Additionally, regulations that lag behind expected policy formulation and adoption can pose key policy challenges as well, Bocanegra concluded.
Daniel Bowermaster, senior program manager for Electric Transportation at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), opened by highlighting that in the United States, the EV sales increase for 2021 exceeded that of the overall automotive market. The 3.2 percent market share of EVs in the United States is impressive, especially considering the 16-17-year automotive fleet turnover rate. Local and national policies, coupled with the automotive industry’s strong reactions to the policies, underpin this major upward trend of EV sales, Bowermaster explained. Strong environmental and economic factors drive the sales of EVs in China and the European Union; in the United States, Bowermaster suggested that a clearer picture of EV sales may emerge in the next few years as the EV industry enters the market segments for trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). Bowermaster then referenced an EPRI chart showing some of the notable EV penetration trends in various U.S. counties to illustrate the importance of ZEV regulation in ramping up EV market share (see Figure 12). Furthermore, mass adoption
of EVs is also occurring in states that do not necessarily have the regulatory framework in place despite perhaps having a highly competitive market, Bowermaster added. While utilities are taking joint actions to prepare for EVs, Bowermaster believes there is still a long way to go and many lessons to learn about deploying easily accessible and reliable public charging infrastructure.
Alan Jenn, assistant professional researcher at the Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Group within the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, discussed the electricity system needs for EV integration from a policy, technical, and market option perspective. Jenn began his presentation by noting that the focus of most practitioners is to get EVs on the road and secure adequate EV infrastructure. Therefore, the development of policy in this area will be crucial to mitigate the potential challenge of VGI. One of the major challenges, Jenn observed, is the whole host of different stakeholders in the landscape of grid integration. He then acknowledged that there is a large body of policies paving the way for VGI in certain parts of the country. For example, several regulatory agencies in California have come together to develop a framework for key VGI policy avenues, including the technology infrastructure, market mechanism, and adoption. Jenn added that the many potential programs and initiatives for each policy avenue are necessary to developing a robust VGI ecosystem. Nevertheless, a key question that needs to be addressed is whether the load and load management for EV charging will be accommodated on the distribution or wholesale electricity system. Additionally, evaluating the value of EV charging across both systems and how to design feedback mechanisms for users to reap the benefits will play a key role moving forward. In his presentation and in response to a question about vehicle to grid applications, Jenn explained that much of the current focus has been on the technological implementation and feasibility of VGI; however, more work is needed to understand the intersection of these technological advances with the way users interact with VGI mechanisms and schemes. In his closing remarks, Jenn stressed that better coordination is needed to facilitate lessons learned between pilot programs.
MEETING CONSUMER NEEDS
Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics at J.D. Power, discussed the market dynamics of EV sales in the United States. He explained that the U.S. EV industry can be described in three distinct evolutions: EV 1.0, EV 2.0, and EV 3.0. The first evolution of EVs was characterized by the adaptation of existing no-frill hatchbacks aimed to target the lower end of the consumer market. The low-price target came with compromises on battery technology and vehicle range. In fact, most of the models in the EV 1.0 class have been discontinued by the manufacturer due to their abysmal market performance, Jominy said. He described the current EV market trend (i.e., EV 2.0) as a phase marked with premium brand electric powertrains with a higher technology performance and range. The higher performances of EV 2.0 vehicles come at a higher cost to the consumer. Automakers in the EV 2.0 market have created dedicated platforms for EV and unique features for flagship brands, Jominy added. For EV to become mainstream for the average consumer, the industry has to evolve to the EV 3.0 phase. Currently, EVs are almost absent in the seven largest automobile segments. Targeting these large market segments is critical for EVs to gain traction; for instance, electric SUV models are currently transforming the SUV market by outselling other non-electric SUVs. Targeting the mainstream markets such as the SUV and truck market can help increase the automaker’s profit margins and reduce the need for extreme incentives. In closing, Jominy noted that once EVs achieve full acceptance in the mainstream markets, the industry can then focus on making EVs accessible to less affluent consumers.
Ahmed Abdulla, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Carleton University, provided insight into the underlying drivers and behavioral trends of EV adoption and charging in southern California. Most of these insights were based on a survey of 643 EV owners recruited from UC San Diego, UC Irvine, and the EV Club of San Diego, a sample population that, Abdulla noted, skewed more male, more liberal, wealthier, and more educated than the average person living in the United States. He cautioned that due to limitations of the sample, any comments about the adoption and charging trends should be couched in these caveats. The study aimed to address two issues: (1) changes in the adoption profile and attitudes toward EV incentives and (2) charging behavior and how users interact with workplace charging. The survey was novel because actual EV owners could provide unique insights into the underlying roots of their decisions, and because
eliciting the preferences of owners across several years could reveal evolutions in behavior or in attitudes toward EV incentives and workplace charging. The study revealed two major groups of EV users based on how satisfied they are with the incentive they received. The first group—EV owners that were more satisfied with incentives—were generally wealthier and had shorter commutes. On the other hand, people who disliked their incentives had longer commutes, a lower preference for environmental protection, and lower levels of income and education. This insight raises important questions about whether to maintain incentives or modify them as the adopter profile changes. To put it bluntly, Abdulla added, incentives should probably be maintained or increased instead of reduced, since the people who were unsatisfied with incentives skewed more toward mainstream America. Survey results on charging behavior revealed that most university campus users plug into the chargers in the morning as soon as they get to campus. Notably, the mode of campus chargers occurs between 7 and 8 am, which does not align with the California peak for solar power production. The survey found that commuters who more recently adopted EVs were more often the ones charging earlier than the maximal peak for solar power production. Abdulla added that these charging challenges might change as infrastructure is deployed, but they are not going away in the short term and need to be managed through demand- and supply-side interventions. The results also revealed some emerging opposition in terms of risk that can stymie adoption or cause a plateau. For example, cybersecurity and data privacy concerns were voiced by some later EV adopters. The EV industry must anticipate and address these risks. As the EV revolution unfolds, identifying emerging challenges and addressing them preemptively will be critical. Moreover, the more important policy implication for infrastructure developers is that relying on operating experience, even from the recent past, may not be the soundest course of action for developing EV infrastructure.
Shelley Francis, co-founder and principal at EVNoire, discussed the importance of centering equity in the e-mobility policy discourse. She began by asserting that mobility is about more than just getting from point A to point B. Rather, mobility can be described as providing access to health centers, education, employment, economic development, and environmental quality. Francis explained that over the past hundred years, car ownership has been one of the most powerful economic drivers and wealth builders for U.S. families. She then illustrated the historical connection between segregation and unequal mobility for Black Americans, explaining that destructive transportation policies and practices tend to skew toward Black American and Latin Heritage communities. These policies and practices have disproportionately exposed minority communities to detrimental public health impacts. The transition to e-mobility presents a unique opportunity to prevent past transportation inequities, Francis stressed. A human-centric approach of engaging and partnering with communities can be an effective tool to avoid the foreseeable inequities of e-mobility. Engaging diverse communities involves listening to better understand the solutions and barriers and also empowering communities to become more involved. Francis also emphasized, “When you engage with communities, one of the critical things to understand is that things will move at the speed of trust.” She concluded by remarking that effective engagement is a continual and long-term process of nurturing relationships. Responding to an audience question about improving access to EVs in disadvantaged communities, Francis emphasized the needs to (1) allocate funds for research on engaging and educating diverse communities about EV technologies; (2) make rebates and incentives accessible and available to all consumers; and (3) highlight all potential benefits of e-mobility, including workforce and economic opportunities.
Gil Tal, director of the Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Group within the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, opened by describing the three equity goals of vehicle electrification: make EVs available to all buyers, share public funding, and secure environmental benefits. Tal then discussed the 2016-2019 trend of new LDV sales in California, pointing to the fact that most residents of the state are not in the new car market. The trend in California also indicates low-income households will start adopting used EVs in less than 10 years. Tal added that the market segment of low-income consumers would contribute substantially to California’s 100 percent EV target. Currently, the adoption of both new and used PEVs is skewed toward non-disadvantaged communities in California. Notable trends in California indicate that there is limited access to public charging for multi-unit dwellings in minority and low-income communities. In comparing the advantages and disadvantages of used PEVs, Tal explained that for low-income buyers, used PEVs can present substantial economic benefits in operation and maintenance. Nevertheless, the drawbacks associated with EVs’ initial cost, reliability, and access to charging can present a risk to low-income buyers. In closing, Tal summarized several relevant policy discussions and initiatives that can help bridge the adoption gap for low-income consumers, including subsidizing and
installing chargers, controlling charging cost, encouraging high vehicle turnover, requiring and subsidizing battery warranties, subsidizing PEVs for low-income users, and incentives aimed at closing total cost of ownership gaps.
Zhenhong Lin, senior research and development (R&D) staff member at the National Transportation Research Center of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, explored the implications of free charging for low-income communities. He began with a general overview of the global EV trend, noting that Europe and China have surpassed the United States to become the market leaders in EV adoption. While the penetration of EVs is not sufficient to meet climate goals, the current rate of EV adoption is remarkable compared to other alternative fuel vehicles. Lin suggested that the adoption of EVs is not equitable and varies across gender, income, education, and other demographic factors. He added that the inequities of EV adoption extend beyond demography and include access to incentives and charging infrastructure. Due to these inequities, low-income consumers are missing out on the benefits of vehicle electrification. Lin then explained the notion of free charging coupled with affordable used PEVs for low-income communities. He argued that free charging, regardless of the funding mechanism, presents a net positive value to the society, similar to other public systems such as the public road system. He argued that affordable used PEVs, if adopted by low-income communities due to the stimulus of free charging, can reinforce the new PEV demand and therefore improve both effectiveness and equity of vehicle electrification. Lin closed his presentation with a discussion on the broad implications and open research questions that need to be addressed in the context of freely charged used PEVs. One example, highlighted in the question and answer session, is the overall environmental impact of free charging on emissions and local air pollution. On the one hand, the replacement of ICEVs with EVs, coupled with the increasing share of clean electricity on the grid, could yield positive air quality benefits. However, free charging may incentivize driving, thereby increasing energy use associated with EVs and shifting emissions upstream, which could exacerbate local air pollution near electricity generation facilities. Lin emphasized that more quantitative and location-specific analysis would be required to make any conclusions about these potential impacts.
Matthew Metz, founder and co-executive director of Coltura, explained that targeting EV incentives and policies on the biggest users of gasoline can serve as a strategy to reduce U.S. personal transportation emissions. “Gasoline superusers” are defined as the top 10 percent of drivers in terms of gasoline consumption. They account for one-third of all gasoline burned. On average, superusers drive about 30,000 miles per year, which is about three times more than the average U.S. driver. Additionally, superusers tend to drive bigger vehicles like pickups and SUVs. With regard to household income, superusers are similar to the general population of drivers—clustered mostly in the lower- and middle-income levels (unlike EV drivers, who skew toward the highest income levels). Superusers tend to spend more of their total annual income on gasoline than the average American driver; the gasoline cost burden is even steeper among lower-income superusers. Metz suggested that if low-income superusers make the switch to EVs, they would save hundreds of dollars per month that would otherwise be spent on gasoline. As illustrated in Figure 13, designing incentives based on historical gasoline consumption, such that the biggest gasoline users receive the biggest incentives, and focusing EV education efforts in geographic locations with high concentrations of superusers are two promising strategies that could help increase EV adoption among superusers.
A presentation by Nicholas Millar, product manager at EV Connect, described how charging networks can help meet the needs of EV drivers. Due to the ubiquity of electric outlets, EV charging represents a more convenient fueling experience relative to ICE vehicle fueling, Millar opened. However, non-standardized connectors, lack of universal access to overnight charging, and closed networks are major barriers to EV charging access. In light of these challenges, EV providers have recently made efforts to allow roaming across networks that can simplify EV charging and overcome the closed network barrier. Another benefit, Millar added, is the potential for lower fueling costs for EV charging on these networks. It is worth noting that these cost savings might not be realized everywhere in the United States due to the high infrastructure upgrade cost and the lack of incentives to embrace the flexibility of EV charging. These can be overcome with smart design and smarter charging software. He noted that light-, medium-, and heavy-duty fleets can benefit the most from lower cost-per-mile. Furthermore, a more holistic charging solution for commercial fleets can have a spillover effect in speeding the charger coverage for non-fleet users.
Kelly Yearick, senior program manager at Forth, discussed the opportunities and challenges of transportation electrification in rural communities. She explained that transportation electrification opportunities in rural America
are substantial. The opportunities lie in the fact most rural dwellers tend to drive long distances and own older, larger, and less efficient vehicles. Yearick added that rural dwellers are also more likely to live in single-family homes lending to more improved access to charging. However, transportation electrification in rural regions is not without challenges, which include less awareness of EVs and limited access to public transportation and mobility services. Yearick stressed that substantial incentives and outreach will be required to overcome the entry barrier for EV adoption in rural American given the lower average income and aging demography. She concluded that the lack of EV models suitable for rural consumers is a major barrier that needs to be addressed to increase rural transportation electrification. Asked about effective approaches to increase EV adoption in rural communities, Yearick noted that adoption of EVs by local governments and well-respected local organizations could both increase awareness of these vehicles in the community and incentivize charging infrastructure development in the area.
In her opening remarks, Britta Gross, managing director of the Carbon Free Mobility Global Program at RMI, expressed excitement about the upward trend in EV sales across states and the country as a whole. However, looking at the current EV sale trend from a top-down perspective indicates that the current pace of EV scaling is insufficient to meet the goal of climate mitigation, Gross explained. About one in four cars and one in seven trucks on the road must be electric to meet a 45 percent carbon emissions reduction in the transportation sector by 2030. Gross noted that the challenge to achieve this goal is staggering, and she believes the time to act is now since there is considerable momentum and pressure on the part of states, investors, automakers, and the government to increase the market share of EVs. The infrastructure needs are substantial, Gross added. For example, even in the optimistic and aggressive home charging scenario of 78 percent, the United States will still need about 375,000 DC fast chargers in 2030. To reach this goal, the pace of DC fast charging installation must be increased from the current 600 charging ports per quarter to 10,000. Moreover, the unprofitable economics of operating charging stations and deploying EV fleets present additional challenges that need to be resolved. Gross cited a case study of Los Angeles, explaining that ride-hailing services can be used to bridge the inequities of e-mobility and DC fast charging access. In her closing remarks, Gross highlighted the need to tackle systemic issues related to permitting, interconnection, the economics of charging, and equity for large-scale electrification.
Carla Bailo, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Center for Automotive Research, provided a summary of EV sales and demographics and offered a high-level perspective on the policies being negotiated.
She started her presentation by noting the substantial increase in the EV share of the LDV market, from 3.8 percent in 2020 to 8.9 percent in 2021. The growing acceptance of EVs is due to the reduction in driving need and realization of the importance of clean air during the COVID-19 pandemic. On a segment-by-segment basis, the increase in EV sales is staggering. Bailo added that product functionality and the availability of the different EV products will be critical for wider acceptance. Referring to EV sales data from California, Bailo then pointed to the fact that a sizeable share of new EV buyers has a household income of more than $100,000, which represents a significant gap in access to EVs by the middle class considering the average American income is about $65,000. To this point, Bailo noted that people are keeping their cars longer and longer vehicle turnover rates are another lever that must be considered when thinking about the future of electrification. She then drew attention to the factors causing the shift to electrification, many of which have been covered by previous speakers. Notably, for the first time, U.S. EV light vehicle sales are beginning to move independently of the real price of gasoline (see Figure 14). Additionally, production of EVs is expected to significantly increase by 2025 in line with announced plans being put in place by automakers as well as President Biden’s EO on Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks, which sets a goal of 50 percent sales of emission-free vehicles by 2030. Biden’s EO also includes investment in charging infrastructure, domestic manufacturing, and consumer incentives aimed at the middle class. Even so, Bailo noted the provisions for strengthening U.S. R&D are very limited compared to other countries like China, and it is therefore imperative to develop technologies domestically by funding students and universities to conduct research. Moving forward, another important consideration is building resiliency into our supply chain of raw materials supply and critical technologies.
Yan (Joann) Zhou, principal analyst and group leader of the Mobility and Deployment Group at ANL, began by explaining that households in certain low-income census tracts have a transportation energy burden, spending more than 20 percent of their income on transportation. Zhou noted that an ANL analysis found fuel efficiency to be a primary contributor to transportation energy burden. For example, from 2016-2018, a 3 percent improvement in fuel efficiency saved American households more than $1 billion. Zhou added that increasing the adoption of high-efficiency vehicles such as EVs can improve energy equity, especially across low-income households. In collaboration with other national labs, Zhou and her colleagues at ANL recently completed a study on the com-
prehensive total cost of vehicle ownership, which identifies eight important cost components: vehicle, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance and repair, tax and fees, payload changes, and labor. Looking at the model year 2025, the study results indicate that PHEVs will be comparable with conventional vehicles. In addition, the cost of BEVs with 300 mile range will be slightly higher than conventional vehicles, but still comparable due to lower maintenance and repair costs. Zhou stated that major vehicle cost components include purchase and depreciation; early EV models face higher depreciation costs and some early models are worth only $6,000 after 6 years of regular use. Additionally, while the retention rate and battery degradation are also considered major cost barriers for EV consumers, ANL analysis shows that the retention rate for newer models has greatly improved over the last few years. Moreover, mature powertrains in particular have improved consistently compared to their conventional competitors. Zhou added that with these improvements, one recognizes that early market models have created a low-cost EV market for low-income communities. In the future, deploying chargers more widely and strategically can capture about 90 percent of charging demand in the public domain.
Sandra Wappelhorst, senior researcher on the Europe team at the International Council on Clean Transportation, introduced her presentation by discussing the countries and subnational governments that have made sales commitments for new electric LDVs. Auto manufacturers are reacting to these policies by announcing their commitments to full EV production in the medium term. Referring to a map of countries and U.S. states that have made official commitments toward 100 percent new EV sales, Wappelhorst noted that these countries accounted for about 14 percent of total new global passenger car sales in 2020. For larger markets like the United States and Europe, commitments to EV targets will send an important market signal. In Europe, tighter CO2 emissions standards from 2020 model year cars have generally been a key driver for spurring the electric passenger car market in European countries in 2020 and 2021 (see Figure 15). The development in European countries exemplifies the importance of regulations, Wappelhorst remarked. Furthermore, some leading car markets like Germany, France,
Spain, and Italy have introduced COVID-19 stimulus packages that include increased incentives for consumers to buy new EVs. It is worth noting, Wappelhorst stated, that the high registration share in Europe is also driven by the registration of company cars. For instance, in the Netherlands and Germany, more than 70 percent and almost 50 percent, respectively, of new electric cars in 2020 were registered by companies. Thus, company cars and the private use of company cars can spur the EV market in addition to the private car market. Wappelhorst then described the notable EV adoption trend in rural regions of Europe for the year 2019, particularly in Scandinavia, Portugal, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, where in some cases EV uptake equaled or exceeded the 3.6 percent European average. Higher public charging density than the national average is one key factor driving the uptake of EVs in some rural regions of Europe. Wappelhorst offered the example of a rural region in Germany, which has shown success in increasing the awareness and adoption of EVs by establishing education facilities, companies that produced components for EVs, and car dealerships to handle the sale of EVs. To conclude, Wappelhorst emphasized that increasing the EV market share will require a complex system approach of regulation, incentives, charging infrastructure, and local action.
Following their presentations, the panelists in the final session—Gross, Bailo, Zhou, and Wappelhorst—discussed potential barriers to EV adoption that will remain even once these vehicles reach cost parity with ICE vehicles. Gross highlighted the numerous infrastructure challenges that need to be addressed, including location and number of charging stations, permitting and grid interconnect requirements, industry standards for chargers, and building codes for charging installations. Bailo and Zhou added the need for better consumer education on EV range and total cost of ownership, with Bailo noting that automakers have begun working with dealer networks to train salespeople to better communicate about EVs to potential buyers. Additional barriers mentioned were the impacts of weather conditions on battery life, model availability to meet all consumer needs, and material shortages and supply chain challenges that may arise with widespread EV adoption. With the caveat that vehicle markets vary widely across countries, Wappelhorst shared several lessons learned from EV adoption in Europe, emphasizing in particular the importance of model availability and charging infrastructure development. Increasing model availability allows EVs to reach a wider consumer base with different driving needs. Making charging infrastructure more convenient to the consumer is also critical for EV adoption, and can include deploying faster charging options, streamlining payment systems, and standardizing charging rates.