July 27, 2020

Sustainability in the Electric Vehicle Supply Chain

by Rachel Tennis

With the transportation sector now identified as the largest source of CO2 emissions in the United States, it is clear that the shift to electric vehicles (EVs) is key to achieving a de-carbonized economy. See EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, 1990–2017, at ES-23, EPA430-R-19-001 (2019). Yet EV market share, while growing, is still around only two percent. See Edison Electric Institute, Electric Vehicle Sales: Facts & Figures 2 (2019). The rate at which EVs will gain ground depends on a number of factors, including resolution of the regulatory framework for greenhouse gas emissions, the price of gasoline and—arguably most important—the ability of automotive manufacturers to meet consumer demand by producing EV products that consumers want and are able to afford. Manufacturers are working hard to offer new products, as shown by the expanding range of EV options. Less visible—but critical for ensuring a sustainable transition to EVs—is the process innovation that vehicle manufacturers are undertaking to address new challenges along the supply chain. This article highlights some efforts to meet those challenges and identifies opportunities to promote sustainability as the regulatory framework continues to develop.

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