The shift to electric vehicles is a long process that will gradually happen in the coming years as used EVs enter the market, bringing the technology to lower-income communities and opening the door to mass adoption.
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Global policy will help drive electrification, which will happen as energy from natural gas is swapped for electrons from electricity usage and consumers are incentivized into EV adoption, panelists said April 18 at the Platts Global Power Markets Conference in Las Vegas.
"A lot can happen in the next 20 to 30 years," said Wade Shafer, manager of corporate strategy at Exelon.
New tailpipe emissions standards proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency April 12 could prompt a surge in EV sales to account for 67% of new car sales by model year 2032 while bolstering US energy security by slashing US oil imports by 20 billion barrels.
Only 20% of EV charging takes place at public charging stations, while 80% of EV charging is done at home or work, said Danita Park, director of EV and commercial development at NRG Energy.
However, most of the discussion regarding EV charging is focused on public charging availability.
"The myth of how much public charging we'll need, it's not going to look like the gas stations," said Marie Steele, vice president of integrated energy services at NV Energy.
Utilities are starting programs to help customers upgrade their home systems to accommodate the amps needed to quickly charge EVs, Shafer added.
One interesting part of EV adoption is to see how the batteries hold up, Steele said.
However, the industry is still in the early days of EV adoption, Park said.
"My personal view is the battery life is performing better than the automakers expected," Park said.
The move to greater EV adoption will require automakers to transform their system, Park said.
There have been 3.6 million EVs sold since 2010, which means EVs only make up about 2% of vehicles in the US, Park said. Every year, between 14 million and 17 million vehicles are sold, so the only way to increase EVs on the roads is when people buy new vehicles and replace internal combustion engine vehicles with EVs.
"Yes, it's coming quickly," Park said about EV growth. "We have a whole bunch of policy and rules we need to get in place to get ready for it," Park said.
Vehicle turnover occurs roughly every 12 years, and is even longer with buses, Steele said. For example, Clark County School District, which includes Las Vegas, is the fifth-largest school district in the country and has the third-largest bus fleet, Steele said, adding the industry should utilize the existing capacity already available.
"There's a long runway of ICE vehicles," Steele said. However, "batteries are getting more expensive and it's making decarbonization harder," Steele said.
Getting EVs has been difficult due to recent supply chain issues, Park said.