3 auto industry trends to watch this year

Every automaker selling EVs has a common problem: providing enough charging infrastructure for EVs to scale beyond affluent, single-family homes. Dealerships might be part of the solution.

EVs represent less than 1 percent of the 250 million vehicles on U.S. roads. Edison Electric Institute, a trade group representing the power industry, estimates there will be 26.4 million EVs in the U.S. by 2030, representing 10 percent of the country’s 259 million light-duty vehicles. Edison Electric Institute estimates the country will need 12.9 million charge ports by 2030, with 17 percent public and 83 percent private. There are 140,000 public ports in the U.S. today, and the Biden White House is promising 500,000 by 2030 — less than a quarter of the 2,193,000 public ports Edison Electric Institute recommends.

Software will ease the shortage. Level 2 (i.e., slow) charging ports in apartment buildings, airports, parking garages and public transit depots likely will use daisy chains and software so one port can charge multiple cars, prioritizing vehicles based on how often and how far they are driven. Software could also train ports to draw power from the grid when demand is lowest and renewable energy is most plentiful.

Daimler, Ford, Hyundai, Stellantis, Tesla and Volkswagen, among other automakers, will continue to invest in public charging networks that generate subscription revenue from members and recurring revenue from charge-ups. General Motors, additionally, wants to partner with its dealers on installing 40,000 chargers in their communities. According to GM, 90 percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a GM dealership.

Maybe GM realizes that America’s dealerships can use their real estate as leverage when negotiating direct sales and subscription revenue shares. If automakers hold new vehicles and only deliver them to dealers after they’re sold, then emptied dealership lots might be prime locations for DC fast charging.

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