By David MacDonald, Director of Business Development
To those less familiar with the history of electric vehicles (EVs), the growing fleet of EV models rolling off assembly lines around the world may look like a new and major technological leap forward. More EV-savvy observers may remind us of the vast numbers of such vehicles on the road at the turn of the 20th century. However, both observations are incomplete. Hard to believe, but Scottish inventor Robert Anderson invented the first crude, electrically powered carriage circa 1832. (1)
Throughout the remainder of the 19th century, intrepid inventors experimented with battery-powered vehicles. In the earliest decades of the 20th century, electric automobiles, delivery trucks, ambulances and other vehicles competed with a rising tide of internal combustion-powered transportation. That is, until the advent of cheap, Texas crude rapidly elevated internal combustion to its century-long dominance.
But today, change is in the wind, not only in the realm of auto manufacturing and marketing but also in the growing urgency to reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, with the transportation sector historically being a major contributor. While in recent times Tesla led the way, all automakers are shifting strategies toward the design and manufacture of EVs. Introducing the Chevy Bolt in 2016, General Motors has announced plans to phase out all gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035. (2) Ford’s F-150, arguably the most popular light truck model ever built, is getting an electric makeover. Even the iconic Mustang now features an electrified variant.
The momentum is driving legislation as well. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal commits $174 billion to make it easier and more attractive for Americans to choose electric vehicles. About $50 billion will be directly committed to answering the greatest challenge to widespread EV adoption, the convenient availability of charging stations across the country. Biden’s EV initiative will include the building of a national network of 500,000 charging stations by 2030.
Even the petroleum industry is energized by the profit potential of EVs, as leading energy providers prepare for a transition to a post-petroleum, net-zero future. European oil giants Total, BP and Shell are acquiring assets across the EV value chain, most recently with Shell’s agreement to buy 100% of the European charging network ubitricity. (3)
It is a certainty that EVs are here to stay, with Bloomberg Net Energy Finance predicting that more than 500 different EV models will be available globally by the end of 2022. (4) And while the universal availability of convenient, fast-charging stations will influence how rapidly the EV market will grow, the race is on among automakers and energy companies to get the necessary infrastructure network built to continue to power the transportation sector’s transition to net-zero carbon emissions.
As an organization focused on the future, the WT Group is just as energized by the EV Revolution. We are already engaged in design and infrastructure initiatives to help make broad EV adoption a reality. Given the growing market penetration of EVs across America, there is no doubt that existing capabilities for serving the market will expand geometrically. Higher-capacity batteries and a wider, cross-country network of fast chargers will continue to propel the EV marketplace.
Aligned with our future focus, the WT Group is now capable of providing turnkey solutions for the rapidly growing EV market. Our team can provide everything needed for the delivery of EV charging stations, from design and permitting to coordination with electric utilities and charging station installation. Drawing upon our experience working with petroleum retailers, the WT Group is also a leading provider of canopies needed to protect charging stations and consumers from the elements. We have already helped engineer and install a number of charging stations including a recent project for Victron Energy that is under construction in Denison, TX.
What will the future EV landscape look like? In a world increasingly concerned and ready to act to control emissions linked to climate change, anticipate a future in which charging stations pop up everywhere from supermarkets and big-box stores to doctors’ offices, hotels and most workplaces – literally anywhere people spend any lengths of time during a typical day. Ultimately, EV fast-charging stations will become virtually universal – convenient, fast and fully able to serve the vehicle fleet of tomorrow.
And wherever the road to an EV future may lead, you can be sure the WT Group will be there helping to power it.