An EV-plosion awaits in 2023, and it’ll be packed with tech • TechCrunch
2022 was the year that electric vehicles entered the mainstream. Not everyone has one, but buying an EV no longer makes you an outlier. Driven by policy initiatives from governments and billions of dollars in investment from automakers, we can safely say the EV industry has begun to take shape.
Over the next year, that landscape will develop beyond the foundations of 2022. Here are some of our best guesses for what you can expect.
There will be a race to sell U.S.-built EVs in the first quarter
The Inflation Reduction Act, which the Biden administration passed in August, has already had a huge effect on the EV industry as automakers work to onshore their supply chains and factories. But with certain aspects of the IRA’s EV tax credit rules now to be delayed until March 2023, we’re expecting to see EV sales take off in the first quarter of the year.
Under the bill, eligible EVs could qualify for a $7,500 tax credit if they meet the requirements of being built in North America and having sourced critical battery materials from the U.S. or free trade agreement countries. Those rules were meant to go into effect on January 1, 2023, but the Treasury Department has delayed guidance on the critical materials rule until March. And it’s a good thing, too. While automakers in 2022 scrambled to set up factories in the U.S., most critical materials still come from China, so they need time (likely years) to set up new supply chains.
The delay means that a whole host of North American-built cars will now be eligible for the full refund, at least for the first three months of the year. The biggest winners will probably be Tesla and General Motors, whose sales caps under the previous EV tax incentives will be waived in the new year. But others like Ford, Nissan, Rivian and Volkswagen have all got a lineup of NA-built EVs that are ready to reap the benefits.
Even more EV models and sales
Electric vehicle sales in 2022 were pretty much dominated by who you’d expect: Tesla’s Models S, Y and 3, Chevrolet’s Bolt and Ford’s Mustang Mach-E. In the backdrop, nearly every automaker, be they a legacy OEM or a startup, unveiled a slew of impressive EVs for the 2023 market, from the Alfa Romeo Tonale to the Indi One. Most of them were geared towards the luxury consumer, though. In the next year, we’ll see even more new models come out that are priced much more affordably.
In addition, expect the sheer number of new EVs on the market to pick up as new factories come online. McKinsey predicts legacy automakers and EV startups will produce up to 400 new models by 2023.
All the new models coming out will give Tesla a run for its money, predicts Shahar Bin-Nun, CEO of Tactile Mobility, an AV sensor tech company. Bin-Nun says he expected Tesla to still dominate the U.S. EV market in 2023, but that Ford, Hyundai and Kia will follow closely behind as they ramp up their lineups and production capacities.
We can also expect the market for secondhand EVs to creep up in 2023, which will make it much easier for people who are filthy rich to afford a zero-emission vehicle.
The software-defined vehicle will really take hold
Every automaker has been talking about the “software-defined vehicle” throughout 2022 as a concept that’s inherently linked to the electric vehicle. In 2023, we’ll really get a chance to see what that means.
General Motors, for example, will launch Ultifi early next year, its end-to-end vehicle software platform that promises OTA software updates, cloud connectivity and vehicle-to-everything communication. Ultifi will be the place where drivers can purchase apps, services and features – it’s an example of how automakers are increasingly trying to personalize vehicles to the individual’s needs.
This personalization will likely lead to an increase in subscription-based services in the car, says Will White, co-founder of Mapbox, a provider of online maps.
“We’ll also continue to see high demand for convenience-based services like in-car payments, where consumers will have a credit card on file in their app that pays for everything automotive-related,” said White.
On the backend, the software-defined vehicle will also dance with the metaverse. In 2022, a range of automakers, including Jaguar Land Rover, Nio, Polestar, Volvo and XPeng, announced plans to build software-defined vehicles on Nvidia’s Drive Orin system-on-a-chip. Automakers will in 2023 also rely on Nvidia’s recently upgraded its Omniverse platform, which stands to revolutionize everything from designing vehicles to the automotive product cycle. Using tech like this, automakers will increasingly build digital twins of both their vehicles and their production facilities in order to simulate anything from software upgrades within the vehicle to crash tests to factory efficiencies.
I guess we have to get used to saying Level 2+ ADAS
While we’re on the subject of software, automakers in 2023 will put much more investment into launching Level 2+ and Level 3 autonomous systems, which are basically really good advanced driver assistance systems. White says these systems will be a commonplace expectation in high-trim models.
Tesla will of course continue adding new features to its Autopilot and so-called “Full Self-Driving” softwares. But other automakers will come out with their own brands of impressive tech that will take care of more and more automated driving tasks.
Earlier this year, autonomous vehicle company Argo AI shutdown after Ford and Volkswagen pulled their investments. The IP was pretty much split between the two automakers, both of which said they were committed to pursuing near-term gains like L2+ and L3 systems. Rivian founder RJ Scaringe also said his company will focus on getting its own ADAS right.
Meanwhile in China, XPeng is rolling out the G9 SUV with its XNGP software, which the company describes as a “full scenario” ADAS that promises to automate highway driving, city driving and parking tasks.
More investment into getting charging right
J.D. Power analysts are expecting the market share of EVs in the U.S. to reach 12% next year, which is up from 7% today. If narrowing the scope to consumers that actually have access to EVs, that market share actually looks more like 20%.
Whatever the number, the fact remains that we’ll be seeing millions more EVs hit the streets in the U.S. next year. That means all of the ancillary services needed to keep them running will need to step up.
In 2023, we can expect to see investment – from government, utility and private firms – into charging infrastructure, energy storage and energy transmission.
Ensuring the EV transition is a smooth one isn’t just about building more EV chargers, although we grant, that’s a really important piece. Maintaining chargers will also be prioritized next year. A separate J.D. Power study earlier this year found that not only is availability of public charging still an obstacle, but often when you do find a charger, it’s broken. We predict there’ll be some tech, either from upstarts or existing EV charge players, that helps manage maintenance, servicing and upgrades for chargers.
In that same vein, all throughout 2022, every few months we stumble across some startup or utility company crying out that the electrical grid will never be able to handle all of the electric vehicles we’ll see in 2023. They’re probably right. So alongside energy management infrastructure, we expect to see more vehicle-to-grid software.
There were a few pilots in 2022, many of which were focused on V2G technology at home. Ford’s F-150 Lightning pickup truck is among a few vehicles that have promised to be able to power your home in the event of an outage. But we think as more fleets go electric, we’ll start to see those pilots happening in commercial settings at a wider scale.
The rise of EV fleets
We already saw many fleet operators begin to adopt EVs in 2022, as they aim to reach whatever carbon emissions goals they’ve set for themselves. Hertz, for example, plans to buy 65,000 Polestar vehicles, 100,000 Teslas and 175,000 General Motors vehicles over the next couple years to reach its goal of having 25% of its fleet electric by the end of 2024.
In 2023, those purchases will only ramp up, particularly as commercial EV makers get their production lines up and running.
GM’s BrightDrop, for example, has recently launched its CAMI Assembly plant in Ontario, which is expected to produce 50,000 of its Zevo delivery vans by 2025. BrightDrop has already secured over 25,000 reservations from customers like DHL and FedEx that are working towards net-zero goals.
Another commercial EV company Canoo plans to buy a vehicle manufacturing facility in Oklahoma City in order to ramp production of its Lifestyle Delivery Vehicle and bring those EVs to market next year for committed customers like NASA and Walmart.