As we mark the end of Earth Month 2023, it’s a great time to look back on the progress we’ve made in slowing climate change. Most news stories focus on what we as a global society are doing wrong when it comes to sustainability and environmental stewardship — and it’s true: There’s so much left to be done. But sometimes good news is warranted, too.
For instance, earth-friendly electric vehicles (EVs), once a stereotype of the affluent or the environmental zealot, have exploded in both popularity and affordability. According to the World Economic Forum, one in seven passenger cars purchased globally in 2022 was an EV, versus back in 2017, when that number was just one in 70. In the United States, there are “more than 3 million EVs on the road and 130,000 public chargers across the country,” according to a White House press release. And that number is growing, as cities and municipalities add chargers to their list of local features.
There’s no stopping the EV revolution, writes Patrick Sisson for The New York Times, especially as tax credits drive more American automakers to shift production to electric. But before they can start the manufacturing process, they need to come up with a design. Sisson describes these “innovation centers” in his article and the billions of dollars being spent to create the physical spaces and the associated infrastructure so that industrial design, research and software engineering teams can ideate EV concepts.
“The switch to EVs includes design challenges for engineers reimagining vehicles. For example, much of the space in a car dedicated to the engine and powertrain tunnel can be repurposed,” such as seats that can rotate 180 degrees or even meeting spaces.
One answer to that innovative design question? Much tinier cars. Swedish car manufacturer Luvly created an IKEA-inspired EV that it plans to ship in pieces to be assembled not by the consumer, but in regional factories. The car will be designed to move around agilely in the city; occupy a minimal amount of space; consume little energy; and, at the same time, maximize the interior.
Most importantly, 20 of the flat-pack-style Luvly cars will fit in a single shipping container with a normal capacity of four cars, driving down costs for manufacturer and consumer. Prices will start at €10,000 ($11,000). Comparatively, a Tesla Model 3, the cheapest version of the most prevalent EV brand available in the United States, starts at $41,630.
One factor in Tesla’s higher prices is the cost of refining lithium for batteries. Though commodities prices for lithium and other minerals decreased in Q1, Tesla CEO Elon Musk called the capacity to refine lithium the “choke point” in the supply chain, reports Supply Chain Dive. Musk has called on others in the industry to get involved in bringing down prices and increasing supply.
As ASCM’s Douglas Kent, executive vice president of corporate and strategic alliances, recently told Business Insider: The years of construction, manufacturing and recycling necessary to get enough lithium is “a shift that doesn't move that easily.”
Shift into gear
To learn how your supply chain can support climate progress, attend ASCM CONNECT 2023: Europe in Brussels, June 27-28, where you’ll engage in educational sessions, trending sustainability topics and networking opportunities. Engage with experts in the field; explore the latest trends and innovations; and make meaningful connections that will benefit you, your organization and the planet.
Next, make plans to attend ASCM CONNECT 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky, September 11-13. Like every year, attending this conference gives you a chance to participate in expert-led educational sessions, interactive Innovation Labs, the latest tech exhibits and unparalleled networking.
Finally, one of the highlights of ASCM CONNECT is the annual ASCM Awards of Excellence, which honor supply chain professionals and corporations committed to sustainable initiatives, outstanding leadership, diversity and inclusion, and more. The deadline for submission is May 15, so enter today!