Momentum for electric transportation is building as the world’s top automakers adjust investments and facilities to accommodate EVs.
A recent announcement from Ford “is the latest multi-billion-dollar move by an automaker to quickly move to electric vehicles and phase out gasoline-powered cars and trucks as part of the global effort to combat climate change,” reports The New York Times.
The company is planning three U.S. battery factories and an electric truck plant, for a total investment of US$11.4 billion. The automaker’s announcement could influence negotiations as President Biden pushes Congress—and other countries—to cut down on fossil fuels. In the U.S., transportation accounts for 30% of total annual emissions, notes the Times.
Although the company says the investments will allow it to “produce more than one million electric vehicles a year in the second half of this decade,” Ford will need to continue expanding production if it is to fulfill its promise of increasing EV sales to 40 to 50% of annual output.
Part of Ford’s foray involves a partnership with start-up Redwood Materials to build out a battery recycling supply chain.
“The collaboration will make EVs more sustainable and affordable by localizing production, battery recycling, and creating recycling options for end-of-life vehicles,” Treehugger writes.
The partnership will help Ford sell EVs at lower prices by reducing the cost of new locally produced batteries. A fortified recycling supply chain will also cut down on waste and reduce the need to mine for new materials, Treehugger says.
At the same time, General Motors is setting out to buy all its energy from renewable sources by 2025, 10 years ahead of Ford’s plan to do the same. GM says the accelerated timeline will avoid one million tonnes of carbon emissions. Technological advancements making renewable energy more efficient and affordable are helping the company cut fossil fuels from its supply chain, reports The Washington Post.
The EV market is also drawing in foreign investors, like Taiwan-based Foxconn, which recently inked a deal to buy an auto assembly plan in Ohio. Foxconn—best known for making iPhones—has been trying to get a foothold in the EV market for months, says The Associated Press.
These developments are all promising for the future of EVs, but feedback from some experts suggest that greater changes are still needed for electric transportation to take off. The high cost of EVs has so far meant that consumers have been slow to embrace the vehicles, writes the Times, citing Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey.
But certain demographics are quicker to jump on the bandwagon, as experienced by the Electric Last Mile Solutions plant that is producing light-duty electric vans in Indiana. Buyers for that company’s solutions “aren’t commuters, concerned about range estimates and how to handle the occasional long road trip,” reports Bloomberg News.
“Instead, they’re fleet managers who know precisely how far their vehicles will travel each day and where they plan to recharge them during off-duty hours.”