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These 6 car manufacturers are betting hard on EVs. Here's our take.

Vehicle manufacturers are laying the foundation for a greener future with EV batteries, chargers, and more
Woman exiting an electric vehicle made by Tesla

The EV industry has seen major growth these past few years and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, EVs' share of total car sales has grown from just 9% in 2021 to 14% in 2022, and the IEA has indicated early 2023 trends continue this trajectory. But facts and figures aside, what's actually driving consumers to go electric? Answers vary, but we believe it's worth highlighting the impact of investments from leading automotive manufacturers.

For manufacturers, involvement in the EV market means doing more than releasing new models of electric vehicles. Here are some significant contributions from leading automotive manufacturers and how they’re changing the EV landscape.

Tesla opens up Superchargers to auto industry partners

Tesla has long been a leader in the EV industry, both in terms of the cars themselves and the infrastructure supporting them. Its decision to open up its formerly proprietary charging network to other automakers has further cemented its place in the history of the industry.

Companies including Ford, GM, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, and many more have shared their intentions to adopt Tesla’s North American Charging Standard. Many plan to begin their transition as early as 2024 by including NACS adapters with cars that are already deep in the design and manufacturing process, with full transitions to NACS for future lines in the years to follow.

Confusion over the different types of charging stations, and the dread of being left with a dead battery in an underserved area, may be some of the last roadblocks to even broader EV adoption. By bringing more automakers together to adopt and spread one effective standard, Tesla has made the biggest move of its two-decade history.

Ford gives the industry a “reality check” and battery research

Joining NACS took on even more importance for Ford after its CEO’s “reality check” inducing rural road trip in an F-150 Lightning. After a 40-minute roadside stop at a low-speed charger only gave his truck a 40% charge, CEO Jim Farley noted that providing broader access to high-speed chargers is one of the most important steps the company can take.

Ford isn’t just jumping on Tesla’s bandwagon, though. The company expects to spend $30 billion on electrification research by 2025, pouring money into EV battery development, new vehicle models, and more. The company predicts that 40% of its global sales will come from electric vehicles by 2030, so it makes sense that Ford is investing so heavily in R&D.

In fact, Ford is so invested in EVs that it’s ended production of the Fiesta, which was once one of its best-selling models. The manufacturing plant previously dedicated to the Fiesta will now be used to create EVs for the European market.

GM builds charging infrastructure and pushes V2G tech

Range anxiety is one of the major barriers keeping EVs from achieving widespread adoption in a wider range of markets. GM wants to put an end to those fears by making fast charging more accessible for EV drivers all throughout the United States. Adopting NACS and its existing infrastructure will go a long way toward that goal, but the company is also looking to make 2,700 new fast charging stations available by 2025.

GM is also connecting with some of the most prominent EV charging companies on the market to let customers see real-time information about more than 80,000 charging stations through MyChevrolet and other branded apps. GM’s work in the field is crucial for increasing EV adoption. Interoperability and charging network roaming are fairly common features thanks to the OCPI standard, which means most EV drivers should be able to take advantage of the fast charging stations that GM builds.

Meanwhile, GM is also working to let customers use all that energy stored in their car’s battery even when they aren’t on the road. The company has committed to making bidirectional charging (also called vehicle-to-grid or V2G) standard across its Ultium-based EVs by the 2026 model year. The feature is helpful for keeping lights, appliances, and devices powered during electrical outages as well as for storing and redistributing energy during off-peak hours or from greener sources.

Honda is developing better battery technology

Joining NACS will give Honda drivers expanded access to charging stations, a big step for the company’s EV efforts — which its CEO has admitted were in danger of falling behind. However, it’s just as important to keep improving the batteries these stations will charge.

Efficient, high-capacity batteries will help move EVs forward, a generational leap that will make electric vehicles more desirable in the eyes of consumers. Honda’s work with GS Yuasa to create better lithium-ion batteries has already borne fruit in a joint research and development group that opened its doors in August 2023.

Honda also has its own all-solid-state battery project in development. All-solid-state batteries are far more efficient than traditional lithium-ion batteries, but perfecting the batteries will take some time. However, they’re an important part of Honda’s commitment to being a carbon-neutral company by 2050. They may play a prominent role in shaping the EV industry for both consumer and commercial vehicles. 

Toyota announces a fast battery after a slow start

Toyota has been one of the slower adopters of EV tech and is notably not one of the companies currently signed up to work with NACS. However, it made a big splash of its own by announcing plans to develop a commercial solid-state battery for EVs as soon as 2027: cars running on this battery will be able to charge up in ten minutes or less and let drivers take their pick of customizable “driving feel,” deciding how to spend their charge on the car’s acceleration, turning, and stopping.

Some of Toyota’s slow adoption of EVs can be attributed to its prioritizing alternative vehicle power solutions. This includes cars that run on hydrogen fuel, such as the Toyota Mirai. However, California is the only state with reliable hydrogen fueling infrastructure, severely limiting the Mirai’s adoption. It appears the company’s leadership shakeup in early 2023 may already be yielding an increased emphasis on battery-powered EVs.

Volkswagen makes massive EV manufacturing investments

Though Volkswagen hasn’t committed to NACS yet, that doesn’t mean it’s content to be left behind. Namely, Volkswagen’s battery-focused subsidiary Power Co plans to create Canada’s new largest manufacturing plant, with production set to begin in the St. Thomas, Ontario-based facility in 2027. It’s part of VW’s more than $20 billion effort to create its own infrastructure for EV battery production, a clear sign that the company is fully invested in the future of the industry.

Volkswagen’s ID.GTI concept, which reinterprets the 1976 classic with modern tech and an electric powertrain, also shows the company is ready to bring beloved parts of its history back to life as it explores new possibilities for EVs. And no, the ID.GTI isn’t just a concept; it’s going to be produced in Europe, though we’ll have to wait and see if it ever comes to North America.

Why companies are investing in EVs

For many of these companies, the plan is to slowly transition into selling only EVs. While that process will take decades, the shift is already happening. Anyone looking to build a presence in the EV industry themselves will find that now is a perfect time, as there’s an established base of consumers looking to purchase and charge their EVs, with many more adopters on the way.

If you're looking for a software partner to go to market with, ChargeLab belongs on your short-list. Our robust EV charging management software solution gives CPOs a full operations and maintenance suite, along with power management and monetization tools. Our OCPP-compliant software works with any approved hardware. We support NACS as well as other popular charging standards, and it enables white-labeled apps for rich customization. Coupled with our white-glove support, you can easily scale software sales across your entire distribution chain. Contact us today to learn more.

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