Peak of The New Gold Rush

Sean Ackley, eMobility Segment Lead, Americas, Hitachi joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss why the electric vehicle industry is at the peak of the new gold rush.

The conversation begins with Sean discussing how he first became interested in electric vehicles. From building a performance golf cart to electric race cars, he shares insight into how his passion for racing turned into building his own EVs and eventually a career.

From passion to a career, Sean has incredible real-world insight into EVs. With this insight in mind, Grayson asks Sean what his thoughts are on the current state of the electric vehicle market.

It’s exciting. It’s certainly at a fever pitch of attention globally, both from people who are looking at it as an opportunity to invest in new commercial models, companies looking to dabble in new technologies. I almost feel like we are at the peak of the new gold rush.

– Sean Ackley

While the EV market is at the peak of the new gold rush, what happens next?

There is going to be a lot of winners. There is going to be a lot of people striking gold.

– Sean Ackley

With a gold rush underway, there are still hurdles that have to be crossed and one of those is the inconsistency in EV charging. There are numerous complaints from EV owners about chargers being broken when they need to charge.

A broken charger does not necessarily reflect poorly on the charging company, the majority of the time it reflects negatively on the car company. This is a problem that needs to be solved in order for EV market share to grow.

There is a lot of frustration in what you might call uptime and reliability of charging infrastructure.

– Sean Ackley

Consumer frustration with EV charging infrastructure is creating new opportunities for traditional oil and gas companies to enter the space. Shell is beginning to explore charging infrastructure with plans to operate over 500,000 chargers by 2025.

Users expect a parity to their experience to a petrol car or a gas engine vehicle.

– Sean Ackley

While the ability to quickly charge today is limited, does this create an opportunity for convenience stores to install EV charging stations? Grayson and Sean discuss what would have to happen from an infrastructure perspective to make EV charging at convenience stores a reality.

As more electric vehicles come online along with EV charging infrastructure, the grid will have to be upgraded to support the additional load demand.

We need to continue to invest in a robust and resilient grid and then supplement it where time is a critical factor with grid edge technologies. And then build out from there as technology continues to grow in efficiency.

– Sean Ackley

For EV owners who live in dense urban environments, access to EV charging can be challenging. Grayson and Sean discuss what the future of EV charging in cities might look like.

Wrapping up the conversation, Sean shares his vision of what the future of electrification looks like.

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Recorded on Tuesday, January 25, 2022.