The fallout from the semiconductor chip shortage continues, and since it’s affecting the production of vehicles across the globe, it should be no surprise that automakers will be making fewer electric vehicles in the coming months, just as they’re making fewer internal combustion engine vehicles.
Exactly how many fewer vehicles the industry will build this year is unknown, but it will be in the millions, for sure. AutoForecast Solutions raised its estimate of the number of vehicles that will not be produced because of the shortage from 1.68 million to 2.07 million and then up to 3.12 million units over just the past three weeks. AlixPartners says the number is somewhere between 1.5 million and 5 million fewer vehicles this year.
So far, the electric vehicles we know are being impacted include the Mercedes-Benz EQC CUV and the Nissan Leaf. Tesla shut down its Fremont plant in March, briefly reducing production of the Model 3 and Model Y. In China, NIO said in March that it would reduce its production rate from 10,000 vehicles a month to 7,500 because of the lack of semiconductor chips. It’s pretty much guaranteed that this won’t be the last time we hear about lower production numbers because of the problem, but how big this all gets remains anyone’s guess.
In the meantime, let’s move on to more uplifting news.
New charging site for heavy-duty trucks, vans and buses opens in Oregon
Over in Portland, Oregon, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced the opening of the first-of-its-kind charging site for heavy-duty electric trucks. While the new station is open to anyone with an EV who needs a charge, the site’s mission is to serve large electric vehicles like semi trucks and school buses.
Called Electric Island, the charging location has eight vehicle-charging stations. One of the benefits of the partnership DTNA has with Portland General Electric (PGE) to run this site is that the truck maker can collect data on how the chargers are being used as well as its own vehicles’ charging performance.
Electric Island is less than a mile from Interstate 5 in Portland, so shippers using electric trucks and delivery vans on this particular stretch of road will have ready access to the chargers. Moreover, that benefit will last for years. Daimler Trucks says the location has been future-proofed to be replaced with more powerful chargers — like those over a megawatt — once that technology and the next-generation electric vehicles that can use it are ready for use. DTNA and PGE also have plans to install on-site energy storage and solar power generation at Electric Island, but there are no details available for these next steps just yet.
Hankook, Michelin ready EV-specific tires
Some of the most important components of an electric vehicle that people rarely think about are the tires, including the fact that you can design a tire to work in tandem with an electric powertrain to improve the experience for the people in the car.
There are two main ways tire manufacturers can do this. First, the tires need to be quiet, since EVs have no internal combustion engine that can drown out some of the road noise you get from standard tires.
Second, they need to reduce rolling resistance, which means you need less energy to keep the car moving. The challenge, of course, is to keep rolling resistance low while also making sure the tire has the “stronger traction, steering and braking performance” that EVs require because the heavy battery pack makes an EV roughly 10% to 20% heavier than a similar vehicle with a traditional powertrain, according to Hankook. The company is working on tires like the Kinergy AS EV and Ventus S1 evo 3 EV specifically for future EVs. Michelin expanded its family of Pilot Sport EV tires to include tires specifically made for performance EVs earlier this month, saying that the “very low rolling resistance” of these tires can extend the range of an EV by up to 37 miles.
In other automotive news:
Want to read our old newsletters? Check out our archives here.