Education Should Get Ahead of EV Market Before Mass Adoption
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Our world is evolving…fast. Technology is in a constant state of flux and evolution, with new applications changing the way we work, communicate, live and move. No sector is immune to disruption; no individual is unimpacted by technology’s constant change.

And that includes education.

Unfortunately, education moves much slower than the workforce. Often, there’s a lack of communication between education and industry that leaves education unaware of what’s changing in the workforce. But even those educators on the bleeding edge who do see what’s coming in industry, who do want to update their curriculum to stay relevant with industry trends find themselves caught up in accreditation processes, long approval timelines, and challenges around funding, space, you name it.

Fortunately, 2023 presents a unique opportunity for education – one where education can get ahead of industry and embrace curriculum that prepares students for the future workforce. And this opportunity lies within the EV market.

The state of the EV market in 2023

The electric vehicle (EV) market is in an interesting place in early 2023. With the state of the U.S. and global economy, there’s speculation about how the emerging EV sector will fare this year. Consumers are spending less, competition in this niche is growing, supply chain issues continue to plague manufacturers, and a skilled workforce is still hard to find.

Bar graph of EV Market DataYet despite the challenges, the EV market continues to grow. Electric vehicle sales accounted for 5.6% of the total auto market in Q2 of 2022, up from 2.7% during the same time frame in 2021. By the end of the year, LinkedIn reported electric vehicles made up 10% of total new car sales across the world, an increase in 68% from 2021. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ most recent data shows major growth in all areas: hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid-electric, and fully electric vehicles.

Some predict 2023 will be the year of the electric vehicle. In January 2023, the news is full of headlines around dropping EV prices and a settling of the market into different tiers. CNBC likened the EV market to the dot-com era, where there may be countless startups in the space, but the strongest will emerge and remain.

In the CNBC article, Tim Mullaney notes Tesla’s price and stock drops have created “a dynamic a lot like the one that confronted dot-com companies like Amazon and eBay as 2000 blended into 2001: A web-stock selloff was well-underway then, just as EV companies like Tesla, Fisker and Lucid fell sharply last year — 65 percent for Tesla, 54 percent for Fisker and 82 percent for Lucid. Then as now, weaker players like today’s EV makers Lordstown Motors, Faraday Future and Canoo were scrambling to avoid running out of cash as an economic slowdown loomed, either by cutting costs or raising more money from investors…But at the same time, revenue at dot-com companies kept rising fast, and the businesses that were  destined to survive began to turn profitable between 2001 and 2003. Today, EV sales in China are rising, even as Covid continues to hamper its economy, and EVs posted a 52% sales gain in the U.S. At year-end, EVs had 6% of the U.S. light-vehicle market, compared to 1 percent of U.S. retail sales being online in late 2000.”

Mass adoption of EV has to overcome several challenges

Based on a scenario where electric vehicles account for half the vehicles sold in the US in 2030, in line with a federal target. Includes the cost of hardware, planning and engineering, and charger installation; does not include costs for grid and site electrical upgrades.
Source: McKinsey Center for Future Mobility

Here’s where things get tricky: despite the momentous growth in EV sales, we have a long way to go before our infrastructure is ready to handle mass adoption of electric vehicles. Specifically, we need to rapidly increase production of batteries and charging stations.

McKinsey wondered in a 2022 report if the automotive industry can scale fast enough to meet the needs of EV drivers, citing three major constraints:

  1. Difficulties sourcing raw materials used in batteries
  2. Insufficient number of battery-producing gigafactories (and low throughput in those that do exist)
  3. Public charging infrastructure that can handle the number of EVs on the road

We certainly can and should look to education to find solutions to these issues. Today’s chemical engineering students can work on improving battery cell technology. Industrial and manufacturing engineers can work out ways to make gigafactories more efficient.

McKinsey agrees, noting that “cell manufacturers should also think about their future talent needs as they conduct R&D activities designed to advance the next-generation cell manufacturing. The industry is changing so fast, and battery technology advancing so rapidly, that companies must be nimble in adapting their recruitment and training efforts.”

But even if the battery technology challenge is solved, the cost of developing a public charging infrastructure is a damper on mass adoption. Just take a look at McKinsey’s findings, which show a cost of $35 billion for public EV charging stations (and that doesn’t even include the added cost of grid and site electrical upgrades needed).

Now is the time for education to act

We sit at a unique time in 2023, where the forecast is strong for electric vehicles but the challenges may inhibit the timeline for mass adoption. This is the time for education to act.

Now is the time for automotive programs to add curriculum and hands-on training for hybrid and electric vehicle maintenance and repair. To include curriculum around charging station installation and maintenance. Now is the time to launch certificate and technical diploma pathways for hybrid and EV specialists. Now is the time to request funding, plan lab space, rearrange curriculum, add courses, and adopt new technology.

By 2030, 50% of all new vehicle sales may likely be electric. If education doesn’t embrace EV now, we won’t have the technicians we need to handle the mass adoption of EV in just a few years.

So what’s next for education?

This is our first in a series of articles around how education can embrace hybrid and EV technology. We’ll be laying out the framework step by step in our upcoming articles. Add your email below and you’ll get the next ones sent directly to your inbox!

In the meantime, browse training equipment designed for hybrid & EV education.

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