Electronic Vehicle Technology: 2023 Trends & Outlook
The automobile industry is trending toward electric vehicles, driven by government incentives and consumer demand. Nearly every major automaker now offers plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles. Major auto markets worldwide are expected to be predominantly electric by 2035. Automakers' ambitious push toward electric vehicles (EVs) is a response to rising consumer demand for environmentally friendly modes of transportation and the critical need to cut carbon emissions.
The current state of electric vehicles
One of the most exciting developments in the clean energy sector is the rapidly expanding market for electric vehicles. Electric vehicle sales hit a new high of 6.6 million in 2021, more than double the previous year's numbers. Global EV sales have increased dramatically since 2012, when only 120,000 were purchased for the entire year. Today, that's how many electric vehicles are sold weekly, accounting for over 10 percent of the worldwide auto market. Around 16.5 million EVs are now on the road worldwide thanks to this growth, three times as many as in 2018. Two million electric vehicles were sold in the first quarter of 2022, a 75% year-over-year increase.
Several factors have contributed to this breakthrough, but one of the most important has been consistent government backing. In 2021, public spending on electric vehicle subsidies and incentives in the United States nearly doubled to roughly $30 billion. Many other nations have committed to eliminating internal combustion engines (ICEs), and several major automakers have already declared plans to electrify their fleets. In addition, around 450 different kinds of electric cars are available, five times the number from a decade ago. Today, a consumer has their pick between the likes of an electric pickup truck, sports car, minivan, compact, and of course, an electric SUV.
What type of EVs are available on the market today?
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
Also known as "pure" electric vehicles, BEVs run solely on electric power from rechargeable batteries. They have no gasoline engine or fuel tank, and produce zero emissions.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)
PHEVs combine a traditional gasoline engine with an electric motor and battery. They can be charged from an external power source, and also have the ability to run on gasoline if the battery runs low. PHEVs can produce lower emissions than traditional gasoline vehicles.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
HEVs also have a gasoline engine and an electric motor, but unlike PHEVs, they can't be charged from an external power source. Instead, they use regenerative braking and the gasoline engine to recharge the battery. HEVs produce lower emissions than traditional gasoline vehicles, but not as low as BEVs or PHEVs.
Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs)
EREVs are similar to PHEVs, but have a larger battery and a smaller gasoline engine. The engine is only used to generate electricity to power the electric motor, and doesn't directly drive the wheels. EREVs can travel longer distances on electric power than PHEVs.
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)
FCEVs use a fuel cell to convert hydrogen into electricity to power an electric motor. They emit only water vapor and are considered to be a zero-emission vehicle.
Significant future looking EV commitments from automakers
Major automakers have revealed ambitious plans to electrify large parts of their fleets over the next decade, demonstrating the seriousness from the auto industry about electric vehicles. In addition, several companies have announced plans to introduce completely electric product lines within the next five years.
If these car companies follow through with their promises, we could see dozens of new pure battery electric cars (BEVs) introduced by the end of next year. More EV models are great news for consumers and will likely significantly boost the market share for EVs. It’s clear that automakers are willing to engage in this electric car industry by developing more sustainable mobility solutions in response to the tremendous growth of worldwide demand for electric vehicles.
Benefits and drawbacks of electric vehicles compared to traditional gasoline-powered cars
Electric vehicle benefits
For economic and environmental reasons, more and more people are opting for EVs over their gasoline-powered counterparts.
The cost-saving potential of EVs is a significant upside for consumers compared to conventional gas-powered automobiles. Electric vehicles have a considerable cost advantage over gasoline vehicles due to the lower cost of electricity, especially over time and in the context of rising and volatile gas prices. In addition, many governments worldwide provide substantial subsidies to encourage people to buy EVs, reducing the out-of-pocket expense of purchasing an electric vehicle.
Electric vehicles also positively affect the environment when it comes to emissions. EVs do not release harmful pollutants, which is significant for local air quality and cutting down on emissions of greenhouse gasses. Moreover, EV maintenance has less of an effect on the environment because they don't use motor oil, which is difficult to dispose of.
Electric vehicles have several advantages that make them more and more appealing to consumers. These advantages are only expected to increase over time as the EV market expands, and new technologies are developed.
Electric vehicle drawbacks
While EVs have a lot going for them, some drawbacks are primarily related to the industry's growing pains. However, many of these issues are expected to be solved with further research and investment in improved technologies.
Planning for charging outlets is one of the most significant limitations surrounding EVs at present. Of course, charging for EVs has yet to reach the level of charging convenience to be refueled like cars running on gasoline. This can be potentially troublesome for long-distance drivers who regularly travel, as they must base their routes around the availability of charging stations.
Another major issue for EVs is their limited travel range between charges. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, all-electric vehicles can typically travel 100-400 miles on a single charge.
Long-distance drivers may have difficulty with this, and those who frequently drive for work or pleasure may find EVs less convenient
While EVs can save drivers money in the long run compared to conventional ICE vehicles due to lower fuel and maintenance costs, higher starting price tags are still a barrier to mass adoption. This can put EVs out of reach for consumers on a tighter budget, especially those unable to take advantage of government subsidies and incentives.
Despite these limitations, many people are willing to switch to EVs to lessen their environmental impact and save money on fuel over time. Many of these disadvantages are anticipated to be alleviated as the EV market develops and new technologies emerge, making EVs an even more appealing option for customers.
Future electric vehicle technology
New technology developments on the horizon have the potential to make EVs even more efficient, inexpensive, and practical in the not-too-distant future. In the near term, we can expect to see several important advancements in EV technology.
The race for improved battery technology
U.S. manufacturers are investing heavily in creating new battery technology for electric vehicles, spurred by federal regulations and financial incentives. The goal is to develop a battery that eliminates the need for conflict minerals (sourced from countries like Russia and China, which the U.S. government would like to be less dependent on) and is safer, cheaper, and provides more range for automobiles.
Advanced battery technology will help alleviate range limitations and lower the financial, environmental, and ethical costs of producing batteries. While lithium-ion batteries are currently the market leader, other battery technologies, such as sodium ion battery cells and lithium-sulfur battery cells, are showing promise for the future.
Compared to lithium-ion batteries — which use nickel, manganese, or cobalt minerals — sulfur has around four times the potential energy storage. This technology may be more cost-effective, efficient, and environmentally friendly than standard batteries.
Expanding charging infrastructure
As the number of people who own and drive EVs rises, so does the demand for a reliable and convenient charging network. As a result, there will be more considerable demand for public Level 3 DC quick charging stations, especially for keeping longer-range models charged on lengthy road trips. DC electric car charging, which offers faster charging than conventional AC charging, can charge an electric vehicle up to 80 percent in as little as 20 to 30 minutes. DC fast chargers currently account for just over 15 percent of public EVSE ports in the U.S.
Long-distance electric vehicle travel also relies on the widespread availability of charging stations in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Demand for public chargers — an infrastructure that is already behind demand — is expected to skyrocket over the next decade, driven by the fact that the number of EVs on the road is projected to increase to 35 million in 2030.
Autonomous driving technology
Features for autonomous driving are another area of focus for upcoming EV technologies. However, although many EVs already feature ADAS, there is still a long way to go before they are truly capable of autonomous driving. To achieve this, it will be necessary to equip more and more passenger vehicles with Level 3+ autonomous driving capabilities and to integrate cutting-edge camera technology and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors.
Emerging innovations may make EVs even more appealing to consumers in the next few years; thus, the future of EV technology seems to be looking promising. As the industry develops further, improvements in battery technology, charging infrastructure, and autonomous driving capabilities are anticipated to emerge, making EVs an even more workable and environmentally friendly option for the future of transportation.
How governments are incentivizing the adoption of electric cars
Efforts to minimize carbon emissions and encourage environmentally responsible transportation have led governments worldwide to offer financial incentives for purchasing electric vehicles (EVs). This is true in developed countries like the U.S. but is also becoming more common in developing countries where EV adoption has been largely insignificant.
More than 20 nations, including those with developing economies, have committed to plans to completely phase out the sale of ICE cars within the next 10–30 years. Around 120 nations that account for 85 percent of the vehicles currently on the road have set economy-wide, net-zero emissions pledges within the coming decades.
The lack of a widespread charging infrastructure is one of the main obstacles to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Governments — including major city governments — are responding to this problem by pouring resources into creating a more widespread, faster EV charging infrastructure. Initiatives aim to support the expansion of public charging station networks and provide funds to construct charging stations in public spaces and private homes.
Many countries provide tax benefits or exemptions to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles. Among these incentives are tax breaks for setting up charging stations at home or the workplace and tax credits for purchasing new electric vehicles.
Many countries provide consumer subsidies to encourage the purchase of new electric vehicles in addition to tax incentives. Subsidies like these make EVs more affordable for consumers on a tight budget.
Some governments subsidize or even provide free EV parking to encourage widespread use. For example, in certain cities, EV drivers are given preferential parking in public lots; in others, they receive discounts at parking garages.
Finally, some governments give electric vehicles (EVs) priority usage of lanes on congested roads so that they can speed by slower-moving vehicles and get where they're going sooner. Commuters who regularly deal with traffic congestion and lengthy travel times may find this an enormous benefit.
Government subsidies are a significant factor in the increasing popularity of electric vehicles since they lower the entry price, increase their utility, and lower their cost to customers.
EV technologies continue to see advancements and adoptions. To keep up with the changing landscape, find out more about how our Platform and Research as a Service can help your team better understand EV technology trends and more and accelerate your organization to stay at the forefront of innovation.