NIMBY and Other Problems Stalling EV Adoption

Kevin Parmenter, Director, Applications Engineering. TSC, America



Kevin Parmenter, Director, Applications Engineering. TSC, America

­The electrification of transportation is booming – IDTechEx predicts a 15% CAGR increase globally over the next decade just in the semiconductors serving this market. However, it’s difficult to discuss this market without considering the interrelated issues affecting the adoption of electric vehicles. Although I believe EVs are highly desirable, I have more questions than answers about this market.

One of problems that concerns me most is the fact that we don’t control the supply chain for making and recycling the batteries. Where will the materials come from to make the batteries, and will we mine for the minerals and process batteries here? What if we outsource everything associated with enabling EVs and then another pandemic once again shuts down our access to materials? Will we make the mistake of outsourcing everything we need, much like we did with semiconductors for the last 25+ years?

Where will the power come from if everyone suddenly owns an EV -- will all of it be from carbon-neutral sources? Will our grid be able to handle the added load? Many consumers want EVs now but don’t want to use nuclear power or other types of energy that is not entirely sustainable. How do we address the concerns of the EPA, not to mention citizens who want zero-emission green vehicles but have a NIMBY response to solutions that might enable the viability of electrification of transportation? As I’ve argued before, hybrid electric vehicles, HEVs, could be a stopgap on the way to the adoption of full EVs, yet some consumers view any ICE (internal combustion engine) car as unacceptable.

Of course, there are also power electronics problems to be solved, such as providing up to 800 volts for charging EVs. This would speed up the transfer of power to the vehicles being charged while solving another issue: keeping cables from overheating while transferring that much power.  Will we be able to build and deploy enough chargers to keep up with the demand?  The reliability of the chargers and accessibility is an issue.  In some cases, reports of ICE vehicles are parked in the EV charging parking spots blocking access.

For now, it seems that EVs are green if you don’t look beyond the plug. I’m not against them; however, I want to hear how we will fix the technical as well as the supply chain and environmental issues. NIMBY — or perhaps NIMC (Not in My Country)— is a major obstacle. How is it OK to pollute a faraway country, cause environmental damage, and even use odious labor practices? Simply outsourcing everything so we don’t have to see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening, even with corporate policies and surveys prohibiting suppliers from doing these things. I firmly believe that the electronics industry will solve the technical problems confronting EV adoption – but, in my view, we need to apply the same rigor and attention to these other issues.