As fuel costs continue to rise, many drivers are considering ditching their gas-powered vehicles for electric forms of transportation. But supply chain disruptions are making the switch more difficult than expected.
The electric car industry is the latest to feel the effects of the world’s current production constraints. Manufacturers such as Ford are seeing record levels of demand, but are now scrambling to source the appropriate materials—namely, lithium-ion batteries. As a result, Ford was forced to cut off reservations for its highly sought-after all-electric pickup with more than 200,000 reservation holders currently in line, according to reporting from Road & Track.
“We just don’t have the manufacturing capacity to match the demand,” Venkat Srinivasan, director of the Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science at Argonne National Laboratory, told the magazine. “And even if we had a magic wand, we don’t have the mines and materials to supply these things, so there’s a long-term materials challenge.”
The desire to purchase an EV wasn’t always the love affair it is today. Being better for the planet is one thing, but from a range or performance perspective, earlier EV models were limited. Over time, technological improvements have enabled these cars to go faster and farther. But without access to EV batteries, or more specifically, graphite, a material lithium-ion batteries rely on, none of this is possible.
But help is reportedly on the way. On May 2, The White House announced that it would direct $3.1 billion toward supporting electric vehicle production in the US—and the materials needed to make them. This funding, along with battery manufacturing practices modeled by Tesla, has companies thinking about how they can optimize their own battery operations. Ford, for example, is expected to add 60 gWh in North America by 2025, while GM, Toyota and Volkswagen are likely to follow suit.
With battery and raw material scarcities, exceedingly long wait times for electric vehicles have become a real concern for manufacturers who ultimately have no other choice but to hope that consumers will hold out.