By WiTricity CMO Amy Barzdukas
Six months into my tenure here at WiTricity, I’m really starting to get my arms around what’s happening in this industry. It’s no understatement to say that 2021 has been a year of explosive growth in electric vehicles – new entrants in the market, like Lucid, are winning major automotive awards, and existing players, like Hyundai and Ford, are bringing new focus to their EVs and incorporating key new features (including wireless charging, natch.) All kinds of pledges are being made around electrification of our roads – and in the United States, the bipartisan infrastructure bill is bringing real investments to the table. I think 2022 is going to be an even bigger year for EVs – here’s three ways:
#1 Autonomous Vehicles will truly become autonomous
The push on autonomous vehicles will really start to bear fruit in 2022. The number of trials of autonomous taxis, and the number of vehicles involved, will double again next year, unleashing more driverless cars on our roads. The days of seeing the “safety driver” will soon be gone. In 2021, EasyMile, a French startup, became the first vehicle authorized to operate without a human driver on public roads in France. In 2022 we can expect to see Level 4 autonomy in cities like San Francisco and Las Vegas for robotaxis, and of course Level 5 autonomy for delivery vehicles in urban centers. Factory automation is already there – and will continue to expand. Of course, these vehicles aren’t truly autonomous unless they can charge themselves, right?
#2 We’ll stop talking out of both sides of our mouths on fast charging
2022 will be the year that the “speed at all costs for charging” bubble will finally burst. People will realize that the economics just don’t make sense, that’s it’s bad for the grid, and it’s bad for the batteries they charge. Instead, we’ll start to come around to building the infrastructure that makes sense for the vehicles and the way we use them, not just “translating” the gas pump. Today’s notion that ubiquitous DCFC is what it will take to accelerate EV adoption will give way to the realization that easy and convenient charging is what people want. If we bring chargers to where the cars are already parked — at home, at work, curbside, in parking garages and lots – we can do a better job than by recreating the gas station. Yes, DCFCs are necessary for cross-country travel. But this year we’ll get real that there are better ways for day-to-day travel.
#3 Larger Batteries with longer ranges will stop being the holy grail
As a corollary to the wake up we’ll see on DCFC, we’ll also wake up to the fact that bigger, badder batteries aren’t necessarily everywhere. There’s a lot of excitement today about wireless dynamic charging as a means to limit battery size by offering charging on the go – and I know it’s possible (we built it). But even with federal infrastructure funding in play, it’s hard to imagine a real appetite for the level of investment required to make this real in the short term. Instead, I think we’ll see more semi-dynamic applications: wireless charging in taxi queues, or at bus stops, to deliver power snacks that extend range without having to build bigger batteries.
What do you see coming in 2022?