Explaining electric vehicle transition: battery challenges

“Energy and information are the two fundamental currencies of organic and social systems,” Nobel laureate economist Herb Simon once stated.
notice. “New technology that changes the conditions under which one or the other is available to a system can make for the most profound changes.”

Electric vehicles are massively changing the terms of both major currencies at the same time. Reliable and safe supplies of hardware and software are key to electric vehicles, which represent “a shift from a fuel-intensive system to a material-intensive power system,” according to
Report by International Energy Agency (International Energy Agency). For example, the metallurgical requirements for electric vehicle batteries and electric motors are six times that of an ICE car, which can Average weight gain for the electric vehicle by 340 kg (750 lbs). For something like the Ford Lightning, the Weight can be more than 2 times This amount.

EVs also create a shift from an electromechanical-intensive vehicle to one that is information-intensive. EVs offer a virtual clean slate on which to speed up cabinet design,
Software defined vehicles With computing and supporting electronics being the primary enabler of the vehicle’s features, functionality and value. The software also allows the required internal mechanical connections on the ICE vehicle to be disconnected, allowing the EV to be controlled remotely or independently. An added benefit is that the loss of the powertrain not only reduces the components required by the vehicle, but also frees up space for increased passenger comfort and storage.

The effects of Simon’s “profound changes” are clearly visible, forcing a 120-year-old industry to fundamentally reinvent itself. Electric vehicles require auto manufacturers to design new manufacturing processes and build plants to manufacture their own electric vehicles and batteries. Ramping up the supply chain for batteries is the tide of automakers.”
The most challenging topic,” to me Volkswagen Chief Financial Officer Arno Antlitz.

It could take five years or more to get a lithium mine up and running, but operations can only begin after he obtains the required permits, a process that could take years.

These plants are also very expensive. ford f
Korean battery supplier SK Innovation They spend $5.6 billion to produce F-Series EVs and batteries In Stanton, Tennessee, for example, while General Motors is spending $2 billion for his new production Cadillac Lyrique EVs in Spring Hill, Tennessee. As automakers expand their lines of electric vehicles, tens of billions more will have to be invested in both manufacturing plants and batteries. No wonder Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, calls EV factories “Giant money kilns. ”

Besides, Dziczek adds, there
Dozens of new global competitors for electric cars Actively seeking to replace old automakers. The “simplicity” of electric vehicles compared to ICE vehicles allows these disruptors to compete almost from zero with legacy automakers, not only in the vehicle market itself, but also for material and labor inputs.

Batteries and the Supply Chain Challenge

Another important question is whether all of the planned battery factory outputs
You will support projected EV production requirements. For example, you will ask the United States 8 million EV batteries annually by 2030 if its goal of half of all new car sales being electric vehicles, with that number increasing each year thereafter. As Executive Director of the International Energy Agency Fatih Birol noticeToday, data shows a looming mismatch between the world’s enhanced climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals necessary to achieve those ambitions.

This incompatibility worries automakers.
GMAnd the strongholdAnd the Tesla And the others I moved to secure batteries until 2025, but after that it could be difficult. Rivian Automotive CEO RJ Scaringe was recently quoted In the Wall Street Journal Like saying that “90% to 95% of the (battery) supply chain doesn’t exist,” and that the current semiconductor chip shortage is “a small appetizer of what we’re about to feel on battery cells over the next couple of decades.”

Competition to secure raw materials, coupled with increased consumer demand, has led to higher prices for electric vehicles. I have Ford
Starch Lightning price from $6,000 to $8,500 and CEO Farley Honestly It states that with regard to material shortages in the foreseeable future, “I don’t think we should be confident of any other outcome, other than an increase in prices.”

Tough competition for engineering talent

One critical area of ​​competition for resources is the limited supply of software and systems engineers with expertise in mechatronics and robotics. Required for electric vehicles. Major automakers have moved aggressively to bring more software and systems engineering expertise on board, rather than owning it They live with their suppliers, as they have traditionally done. Automakers feel that if they’re not in control of the software, they’re not in control of their products.

Volvo CEO Jim Rowan It was reported earlier this year that increasing the computing power of electric vehicles will To be the toughest and most changeable in the automotive industry From switching from ICEs to EVs. This means that the winners and losers of electric cars will be largely separated by their “relative strength in engineering cyber-physical systems,” States Clemson Paradis.

Even for major auto suppliers, the transition to electric vehicles will not be an easy road. For example, automakers demanding These suppliers absorb further cost reductions because automakers find it too expensive to manufacture EVs. Automakers not only want to bring cutting-edge software expertise in-house, they want greater in-house expertise in critical EV supply chain components, Especially the batteries.

auto makers Including Teslaall scrambling for battery talent, with bidding wars He reportedly went out for the best candidates. With automakers planning to spend more than $13 billion building in… At least 13 new electric vehicle battery factories In North America within the next five to seven years, experienced talents in management and production line are likely to be in severe shortage. Tesla Texas Giga Factory Need About 10,000 workers Alone, for example. at least 60 new battery factories planned To operate globally by 2030, and Scores required shortly thereaftermajor battery manufacturers Highlight already expected shortage of their skills.

The primary cause for concern is to provide sufficient raw materials for the existing and planned battery factories as well as for my factories
other renewable energy sources And the military systems, who are competing for the same materials, have many complexities to overcome. Among them is the need for more mines to provide the required minerals, which it has Prices have gone up with increasing demand. For example, when ordering lithium It is growing rapidly, and investment in the mines has lagged significantly behind that which was targeting electric vehicles and battery plants. Can It takes five years or more to get a lithium mine up and running, but operations can only begin once the required is secured allowwhich is a possible process It takes years.

Mining of raw materials assumes, of course, that there is sufficient refining capacity to process them,
that outside of China, limited. This is especially true in the United States, which according to the Biden administration Supply chain survey report, “Limited production capacity of raw materials and almost no processing capacity.” Thus, the report states that the United States “exports the limited raw materials produced today to foreign markets.” For example, the output from the only nickel mine in the United States, the Eagle Mine in Minnesota, is Send to Canada for smelting.

“Energy and information are two fundamental currencies of organic and social systems. New technology that changes the terms under which one or another of these systems is available can effect the most profound changes.” – Herb Simon

One possible solution is to move away from lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride batteries to other battery chemistries such as
Lithium and iron phosphatesAnd the lithium ion phosphateAnd the lithium sulfurAnd the lithium metalAnd the Sodium ion among many othersnot to mention solid state batteries, as a way to alleviate some of the problems of material supply and cost. Tesla move towards The use of lithium iron phosphate batteries, as is the case for Ford some of its compounds. These batteries are cobalt free Several sourcing issues.

Another solution could be to recycle both EV batteries as well as discarded waste from battery manufacturing, which can be powered on
between 5 and 10 percent from the product. Efficient recycling of electric vehicle batteries “has the potential to reduce primary demand compared to total demand in 2040, by about 25% for lithium, 35% for cobalt and nickel and 55% for copper,” according to Report (pdf) by Sydney University Sustainable Futures Institute.

While investing in an EV battery build
recycling facilities Started, there is a looming question of whether it will be there Enough battery factory scrap and others Lithium ion battery waste to remain operational while waiting for sufficient numbers of batteries to make it profitable. Recycling lithium-ion battery packs is very time consuming and expensive, Making lithium mining often cheaper from recycling it, for example. Recycling low-cobalt or no-cobalt lithium batteries, a direction many automakers are taking, may also make it non-profitable to be recycled.

An additional concern is that EV batteries, are no longer useful for EV propulsion,
I left it years old. they can They are refurbished, rebuilt and reused in electric vehiclesor Re-employment In storage devices for homes, businesses or network. whether to make Economic sense to do either large-scale recycled vsremains to be seen.

Howard NussbaumResponsible for National Rescue Vehicle Reporting Program (NSVRP), puts it succinctly, “There is no recycling, no EV recycling industry, if there is no economic basis for one.”

In the next article in the series, we’ll look at whether the grid can handle tens of millions of EVs.

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