The Automotive Industry Makes Way for the Rise of Electric Vehicles
For generations, oil-powered vehicles have led the motoring industry, but a shift toward electric vehicles seems to be fast approaching. Although electric cars only make up 4.6% of vehicles on the road, Automotive News reported that sales in 2022 were up 60%. This trend in increased sales is a strong indicator that electric vehicles are on the rise. While it's not likely that internal combustion will ever go away, the motoring industry should be aware of the specifications of electric cars. Knowing how their engines and parts work will allow repair shops and manufacturers to provide the level of care drivers have come to expect.
The Popularity of Electric Vehicles
When cars were first introduced to the world in 1886, they quickly grew in popularity among the wealthy, who were the only ones able to afford them at first. But as more and more people became interested in vehicles, manufacturers like Bosch developed new technologies that helped make cars accessible to everyone. Although the initial rise in vehicle consumerism was slow, it has now become a 2.8 trillion dollar industry.
Now, electric vehicles (EV) are starting to see an in sales growth. In Q2 of 2021, electric cars only made up 2.7% of the sales in the total auto market. In 2022, however, EV sales increased to 4.6%. While three percent may not sound like much, it's a strong trend up where yearly sales are concerned. And while the initial start may be slow, the increase in the first few years of EV production have encouraged manufacturers to seek similar time- and money-saving developments that will help nourish the market for new electric vehicles.
Why Electric Vehicles Are So Popular
Electric cars existed as early as the late 1800s, almost in line with internal combustion vehicles. Unfortunately, early technology wasn’t advanced enough to support practical or efficient electric vehicles. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that electric vehicles became a viable option for car manufacturers. But the advance in technology isn’t the only reason EVs are becoming more popular. With a mixture of government incentives, clean energy, and money savings on gas, EVs are quickly becoming a choice option in travel.
To keep up with the rising popularity of EVs, manufacturers like Bosch are working hard to produce highly integrated, cost-effective electric drive solutions. Products such as the Bosch eAxles provide over 50 kW of sustainable, resource-saving mobility for drivers on urban roads. Other materials, like the addition of new silicon carbide semiconductors, helps reduce the battery capacities without sacrificing range. As EVs continue to evolve and grow with public demand, so too will Bosch’s commitment to providing cutting-edge vehicle parts and services for them.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that electric vehicles are more energy-efficient than gasoline-powered vehicles. While fuel-powered vehicles convert 12%-30% of the chemical energy stored in gasoline to kinetic power, electric vehicles can convert over 77% of the energy stored in electricity to kinetic power. This means that electric vehicles can travel longer and at higher speeds without putting a heavy strain on energy consumption. The higher the energy efficiency of your car is, the less you have to spend on recharging or refueling it.
One of the main reasons for EV popularity is the lower impact they have on the environment. Instead of using fossil fuels to power the engine, which creates hazardous gases and pollutants, electric vehicles use electricity. As long as the electricity is produced by a nuclear, hydro, solar, or wind source, the electric car emits no pollutants. However, the majority of public EV charging stations are connected to commercial power grids that still rely on coal and fossil fuels for electricity. And many homes where EV users charge up are connected to similar power grids that typically connect to the same energy sources as commercial properties.
When electric vehicles were first introduced, many believed they would be inferior to the power of fuel-powered cars. But recent technological advancements have proved the opposite. Electric vehicles have increased acceleration because of their increased torque capabilities. Plus, their motors require fewer components to operate, so repairs and maintenance tend to take less time and cost about half as much as they would for internal combustion vehicles.
Because there’s been a global cut in oil production and a rise in support for environmentally friendly technology, the U.S. federal government currently offers a tax credit incentive. While drivers can't expect a check after purchasing a vehicle, they can expect a rather large tax credit for the year. Drivers who purchase a qualified electric vehicle in or after 2023 are eligible to receive a tax credit of up to $7,500.
Buying an electric vehicle used to be a hassle; there weren't many makes or models to choose from, and charging stations were few and far between. But as more people show an interest in EVs, more companies are making it easier to get them. There are even some car manufacturers purely devoted to producing only EVs, with several companies around the world getting in on the ground floor. While companies like Tesla seem to lead the way in electric vehicle options, nearly every car manufacturer is jumping on board. 2022 electric models include cars from some well-known names, such as Porsche and Ford.
With more options to choose from, electric vehicles have started to make their way into more households than ever before.
Why Some People Still Don't Want to Buy EVs
While there are a host of benefits to using electric vehicles, consumers are still wary of purchasing them. With the difficulties surrounding the charging infrastructure, technology, availability, and affordability, it may still be some time before EVs are the standard in the motoring world.
Perhaps the largest barrier between consumers and electric vehicles is the charging infrastructure. Electric vehicles require an electric charge to work. However, chargers cost a great deal, and power source infrastructures need to be designed to keep up with the added usage. Furthermore, if these infrastructures are connected to grids powered by fossil fuels, then the environmental benefit of an electric vehicle is weakened. Because of this, many households choose to spend the extra money on an at-home charging station, where they have more control over where their power is coming from.
While EVs generally offer improved energy efficiency over their gas-powered rivals, there's still a major technical hurdle to overcome. While a battery may produce fewer chemicals, it also doesn't produce as much power as a fueled engine. Yet an electric car's powertrain still needs to get the wheels moving and the motor running. This has proven to be a bit of a block for many engineers and designers.
Typically, electric vehicles have a quicker acceleration than internal combustion vehicles. Because they reach their maximum torque at 0 RPM (revs per minute), they get off the starting line much quicker. The fastest EV, a 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid, currently reaches 0-60 MPH in 2.3 seconds. However, the downside is that EVs don’t have the power needed to reach faster speeds. So an electric car may start out quicker, but internal combustion vehicles can catch up and leave them in the dust. While the power output has certainly improved over time, it's still not a match to other vehicles.
Unlike fuel-powered cars, drivers can't just bring their electric vehicle to a gas station, fill up in a few seconds, and hit the road again. The cost of chargers and variability in each type makes them less likely to be available at charging stations while on the go. And even if a driver can find one, EVs take a long time to charge, depending on the type of battery they have. Each vehicle and battery will charge at a different rate. This means that drivers of electric vehicles may have to plan longer trips around charging stations. Not only do they have to locate each station and be near one when it’s time to charge, but they also need to plan for the downtime it takes while waiting.
Because of their increased technological needs, it costs more for manufacturers to produce an electric vehicle. Even with the tax credit offered, electric vehicles are still more expensive than the average gas-powered car. With the additional costs of a charging station, many consumers forgo an electric vehicle to save money.
Electric Vehicles and the Motoring Industry
While electric vehicles become increasingly popular with consumers, the rest of the motoring industry is working hard to keep up. Auto repair shops are training in EV diagnostics and repair while manufacturers are considering adding more options to their lineups. Some manufacturers are even going the extra step, taking measures to optimize their EV lineup and production. Some examples include:
Most major companies have plans to produce more EVs and/or obtain carbon neutrality within the next 30 years.
Increase in EV Makes and Models
While there are companies that have started to devote their business to making a variety of electric vehicles, many of the standard, well-known brands are still hesitant. However, the increase in popularity among consumers has led many to begin creating more options for drivers. With brands like Hyundai, Ford, and General Motors increasing their EV options, drivers can expect to see more in their lineups each year. If current trends continue, the industry can expect to see an even 50/50 split between electric and gas-powered vehicles by 2040.
Electric Vehicle Maintenance
Just like gas-powered vehicles, electric cars need regular maintenance to operate. However, because they lack certain systems and parts that gas vehicles need to operate, maintenance and repairs tend to cost less and take less time to perform. EVs need service twice a year to ensure their systems are running properly and to have their tires rotated for even wear. With the right maintenance, an electric car's battery can last around 15 years. And while battery replacements do cost a tidy sum, the price is expected to drop as technology and manufacturing processes improve.
Although there's less regular maintenance needed, there is a downside to electric vehicle maintenance regarding tires. EVs are heavier than most gasoline cars, so the tires need to handle a greater weight or else they'll wear out faster. A biannual tire rotation becomes necessary to ensure that the treads wear evenly, but even then, electric vehicles are so heavy that they put additional strain on their tires and suspension systems, meaning they'll still wear out faster than tires for other cars.
The additional weight of EV cars also puts a greater strain on an EV’s suspension system. The parts that help provide a stable drive and keep the chassis in line can degrade more quickly. While engineers and designers are working on making stronger suspension systems, this can likely lead to even more costly designs. For the time being, however, owners of electric vehicles will likely see themselves spending more time and money on suspension maintenance.
The Cost of Electric Vehicles
On average, an electric vehicle starts out as the more expensive purchase option but saves on maintenance costs over its gas-powered competitors. Electric vehicles start out with a higher sticker price than most gasoline models. However, the money saved on gas and certain maintenance services begin to even out the price after a few years of ownership.
And assuming that a driver is eligible for the full tax credit incentive and applies it to the sticker price of their new vehicle, the price difference between a regular model and an electric vehicle isn't all that different. And as you continue to own and operate your vehicle, the lower costs for maintenance and charging compared to gasoline-powered vehicles slowly start to win out over time.
Electric Vehicle Sustainability
As with any new introduction to the market, it can be hard to tell if a trend is sustainable in the long run. While the popularity of electric vehicles continues to rise, many are wondering if they truly are the long-term solution to our traveling needs.
Lithium vs. Fossil Fuels
One of the reasons electric vehicles entered production was to be a way to combat the declining reserves of fossil fuels. There is a limited amount of fuel available in the world, and as more people have access to cars and other vehicles, the prices continue to rise as the supply goes down. However, while electric vehicles may seem like the perfect solution, they also need a resource to run: lithium.
As it stands, the world produces enough lithium to make 2.5 billion batteries for electric vehicles. Considering the current trend for electric vehicles, the world will need about 2 billion batteries made by 2050. While this may seem doable, lithium is a valuable resource that is needed for many other industries. The world cannot devote its entire pool of lithium to making car batteries alone.
With the way batteries for electric vehicles are designed, there's a big problem emerging when it comes to that battery dying. There's no easy way to dispose of them, and recycling their materials is no simple feat. When electric cars were just starting out, this wasn't a huge concern. Not enough people were buying and running out the batteries to be concerned about disposing of the leftovers. But as popularity increases, so too does the need for proper recycling. After all, most batteries only last about 15 years before needing to be replaced. So what happens to them when they’re used up?
Disposing of batteries isn't just an issue of waste management; it’s also a puzzle in clean energy and economic security. While the issue continues to persist, governments all around the world are putting orders in place requiring manufacturers to focus on creating more sustainable batteries with recyclable components.
Bosch has already started on workarounds to help streamline the battery recycling process. With a patented and automated deep-discharging process, batteries can be chemically deactivated much more quickly than the old method of waiting around. This process also removes several safety hazards and repurposes the drained energy in a clean, efficient manner.
While it's too early to say whether or not battery disposal will continue to be an issue, for now, it’s one of the major issues surrounding EV sustainability.
Electric Vehicle Life
Overall, electric vehicles tend to last longer than others. Because they have less maintenance and fewer parts that can break, the U.S. Department of Energy reports that electric vehicles outlast their competitors in terms of general maintenance. However, drivers can't just expect to purchase an electric vehicle and be done with it. Like any car, an EV needs routine maintenance and tuning to ensure it's running smoothly. A driver who fails to get their EV checked up regularly will find it failing more often.
What the Increase in Electric Vehicles Means for Auto Repair
When a driver purchases a car, they need a reliable auto repair shop to help them keep it in shape. For generations, these repair shops have had to focus on the different makes and models of cars available and learning how to take care of new components every year. While electric vehicles may pose a new challenge, it's one that the auto repair industry is continuing to develop new methods and training to overcome.
When to Expect the EV Surge
For many auto repair shops, there are probably already a few people calling to ask about electric vehicle repair. While the popularity is still in its early stages, there's guaranteed to be an increase coming no matter what. As more manufacturers continue to promise new EV models, auto repair shops can expect to see an increase in demand for EV repair.
EV Service Requirements
Because EVs run on a battery, auto repair shops won't need to worry about oil changes and other gasoline-related services. However, there are aspects of the electric vehicle that they will still need to prepare for. Auto repair shops can expect the following common service appointments:
- Battery Failure
- Suspension Damage
- Tire Wear
When someone brings an electric vehicle into a shop with an unknown problem, technicians are going to need to diagnose the issue. EVs are increasing the popularity of onboard diagnostic technologies. While gas-powered vehicles also have a system of sensors and indicators that can help diagnose an issue, electric vehicles are making more headway in how these systems can help. Along with the regular monitoring systems, EVs include technology that can help keep track of:
- Energy Consumption
- Charging Efficiency
- High-Voltage Risk Levels
- Temperature Control
- Preparing Shops for Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles are coming, and auto repair shops are working hard need to keep up and continue providing quality service to their customers. If they want to keep their customers as more households turn to electric vehicles, so too should auto shops. However, shops shouldn't go all-electric all the time. There is always going to be a consumer market for gas-powered vehicles. The best way an auto shop can prepare for EVs is to provide training on EV diagnostics and repairs for their technicians while maintaining their standard of care for gasoline-powered vehicles.
The Job of the Technician
When a driver leaves their vehicle at an auto repair shop, they trust that their technician is trained and certified to handle their car. While EVs may not be completely different from gas-powered cars, it's still necessary for technicians to have the proper training in diagnostics and repair.
Hybrid and electric vehicles come equipped with complex self-diagnostic systems that can take some time to master operating. Additionally, the regular scanned data that repair shops gain from their on-board diagnostic tools used for internal combustion vehicles doesn’t provide enough information to help diagnose EVs. But companies like Bosch are working to expand and improve diagnostics for electric vehicles. Remote diagnostic technology and methods, such as using data algorithms from multiple cars to diagnose one car, are paving the way for quicker, more efficient diagnostic work.
Dealing with an electric vehicle means dealing with an incredibly powerful battery and high-voltage system. Proper training with high-voltage situations helps keep technicians safe and ensures they are capable of fixing any issue in an electric car. Training programs for high-voltage systems include:
- Learning to identify and locate the high-voltage components
- Operating safely when in close proximity to high-voltage components
- Determining whether a vehicle is de-energized
- Learning how to de-energize a vehicle
- Understanding the need for appropriate safety and protective equipment
- Learning first-aid procedures for electrical shocks and burns
These training programs not only help a technician learn to repair voltage issues in a car, but they also help them stay safe when performing maintenance. By investing in EV training programs early on, companies and employees can better maintain business as EVs become increasingly popular.
The Impact of Electric Vehicles on the Motoring Industry
It's clear to see that electric vehicles aren't just a passing fad. With increased sales and more EVs on roads all over the world, the motoring industry can expect to see a continued rise in electric cars. Bosch has been a leader in the manufacturing industry, and Bosch Auto Service extends that reach to the auto repair industry. Auto technology has always been changing, with new parts and systems cropping up every few years. The rise of electric vehicles is not so different. With the right training and an understanding of consumer motives, auto repair shops and technicians can better prepare themselves for the new generation of motoring trends.