The global electric vehicle (EV) charging station industry totaled $16.6 B in 2021 and is projected to exceed $226.4 B by 2031. The industry is poised for tremendous growth and has caught the eye of governments and electronic manufacturers alike.
However, behind the excitement, there are merited concerns over whether the necessary supply chain networks are equipped for such demand.
Consumers Demand EVs While Governments Struggle to Keep Up
Within the growing EV market, station availability and functionality, along with battery range, are consumers’ chief concerns. Around 58% of Americans claim “range anxiety” as a top drawback in owning an electric vehicle.
Satisfying the need for EV chargers will not be easy; research shows that adding even a half-million public chargers throughout the United States would be insufficient for the predicted number of EVs. Europe reportedly needs 65 million EV chargers — 9 million public and 56 million residential.
To catch up, the U.S. government is shouldering some of the EV charging burden by providing funds to support charging infrastructure. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed in 2022, affords $7.5 B to install 500,000 public chargers nationwide by 2030. While it is a good start, the number is inadequate even today — and certainly won’t satisfy demand several years down the road.
The Electronic Component Industry Powers EV Charging
The power storage system is the heart of a charging station; their performance is also directly correlated with advances in semiconductor sophistication.
The main units in EV charging stations include:
• Battery management system (BMS), which manage the charge and discharge of the battery.
• Power conversion systems, which use the inverter to transfer DC power from the car’s battery to AC power to run the motor. Power semiconductors are a main driver of inverter performance.
• Software, which connects and monitors chargers, sends alerts if there are power failures, billing issues and more.
Manufacturers have already begun to build their influence in these verticals. Onsemi Analog Devices (ADI) and STMicroelectronics (STM) produce power semiconductors for EV chargers and powertrains.
STM uses silicon carbide (SiC) wafers for their components, which boost power density and optimize switching efficiency, leading to quicker charging, improved battery range and lighter battery weight. Tesla has already adopted this new technology by incorporating STM’s SiC inverters in their Model 3 powertrain.
ADI has also become an innovator in BMS after launching a wireless BMS that is used by General Motors to reduce the vehicles weight, opening options for design flexibility. ADI predicts that four or five additional auto OEMs will implement this system by the end of 2023.
The demand from this rising industry will funnel into an already strained automotive supply chain. Much of EV charging stations’ demand overlaps with the deep backlog of automotive components, as lead times for certain power supplies were already over a year-and-a-half at the start of 2023.
With the automotive shortage likely to persist until 2026, the EV charging industry is faced with the threat of massive production constraints during a global phase of mass expansion.