Identifying Targets for Electric Vehicle Industry Improvement

Term Start:

September 1, 2023

Term End:

May 31, 2025




Adoption Pathways, Electric Vehicles, EV Users

Thrust Area(s):

Equity and Understanding User Needs

University Lead:

The University of Texas at Austin


Randy Machemehl

Electric vehicle (EV) sales have increased dramatically over the last several years. While Tesla has a growing network of Supercharging stations, owners of the newer, more luxurious EVs cannot necessarily use these charging facilities and are only able to consistently access public charging stations. In general, the public perceives the Supercharger network as more reliable and consistent than most other networks. Users of public charging stations site issues with charger maintenance and rank overall charging satisfaction lower. Though, in March 2023, Tesla announced that it was planning on opening up a portion of Superchargers to the public to qualify for federal funds.

Many perceive the availability of charging facilities as inadequate and forecasts of electrical energy availability for charging may not be adequate to support a complete conversion of ICE cars to EV status. In order to sustain demand for electricity, one would have to upgrade the electrical grid. However, how those costs would be covered is also unclear. There are also questions about whether enough lithium is available on this planet to produce all the batteries that would be required for conversion of all ICE vehicles to electric.

Without significant improvements to features, batteries, and support infrastructure one might wonder whether EVs will boom and then drop in popularity like bikes did in the late 19th century.  This research will examine the complete spectrum of the EV industry to identify all the issues that should be identified as targets for improvement. Problem identification will be done from several different perspectives including: potential EV buyers, EV owners, EV makers, public agencies (State DOT, City, and MPO), and engineering researchers.  One of the largest EV manufacturing facilities (Tesla) in the world is located in Austin, TX so the research team will work closely with Tesla on this part of the study. A combination of surveys and expert panels will be used to gather perceptions.  Potential solutions to improvement targets will be identified and evaluated. Evaluation will include benefit-cost analyses and alternative funding mechanisms.

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