The electric vehicle industry is among the fastest-growing sectors of our time. EVs’ share of total car sales grew to 14% in 2022—and while that may not sound like a lot, it represents a tenfold increase from 2017. Much of that growth is thanks to investments from leading automotive manufacturers, helping make EVs ubiquitous.
For manufacturers, getting electric vehicles right means more than releasing new models. They must undertake research and contribute to EV infrastructure to make good on the investment. 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 industry history.
Now Ford, GM, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, and many others have bought into Tesla’s North American Charging Standard. Many manufacturers plan to begin their transition as early as 2024 by including NACS adapters with cars already deep in the design and manufacturing process, with full conversions planned in the following years.
Standardization is crucial for the electric vehicle industry. Concern over EV charger availability and compatibility—not to mention the dread of being left with a dead battery—may be some of the last roadblocks to even broader EV adoption. Tesla has made the biggest move of its two-decade history by bringing more automakers together to adopt and spread one effective standard.
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 stated that providing broader access to high-speed chargers is critical for Ford.
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.
Ford is so invested in EVs that it’s ended production of the Fiesta, 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
GM also wants to end “range anxiety” by making fast charging more accessible for EV drivers 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 also connects with some of the market's most prominent EV charging companies to give customers real-time information about over 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 relatively 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 (vehicle-to-grid or V2G) standard across its Ultium-based EVs by the 2026 model year. The feature helps keep lights, appliances, and devices powered during electrical outages and stores and redistributes 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 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 essential to 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 has 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. Such projects include 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. The company’s leadership shakeup in early 2023 may already yield 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 invested in the industry’s future.
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 will 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 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.
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