According to Doug Field, a leader with Ford’s electric vehicles division, there are potential bottlenecks and limited supply issues that could slow down the adoption of the EV fleet. He has cited the constraints that are related to the inadequate charging networks and the limited availability of battery raw materials for the battery volumes required.
Field currently serves as the Chief Advanced Product Development and Technology Officer for Ford’s Model e division. A little bit of background on Field, he was previously an executive at electric vehicle leader Tesla, a company known for its serious efforts at vertical integration. Field was actually involved with the launch of the Tesla Model 3 and before that worked on the mysterious Apple autonomous car project, but now Ford has got him back, an indication that Ford is taking EV technology seriously.
Field has received master’s degrees in management science and mechanical engineering. His work history begins as one of the first employees at Segway, as VP of design and engineering.
Field shared these bottleneck and supply comments at an EV conference in the UK recently, saying that the charging infrastructure is the biggest thing that really must be nailed for widespread adoption.
A lot of coordination is going to be required to get the right levels of compatibility, capability, and reliability around the charging network, so people just don’t have to worry about it.
Considering these potential constraints, Field stated that a good way to go around these challenges would be to adopt a vertically integrated strategy.
He was also previously an executive at electric vehicle leader Tesla, a company known for its serious efforts at vertical integration.
Explaining just what a “vertically integrated strategy” is, Field talked about the companies that go upstream and capture the materials well ahead of time, lock them up and build a clear strategy around the battery supply chain will be a winner. This type of strategy is going to push companies to vertically integrate in ways that they haven’t been used to in the past.
The challenge with limited battery raw materials in lithium-ion batteries, a crucial element in the transition towards e-mobility is multi-faceted. Lithium-ion batteries contain amongst others the materials lithium, cobalt, and nickel.
The known raw material reserves are limited and regionally very unevenly distributed. As an example, Russia is the world’s third-largest nickel producer and current Western countries’ sanctions against Russia has increased the price of nickel fivefold.
Field finished up his talk teasing out a vision for Ford’s future vehicles, some of which would be able to do things your phone can’t do. These include an immersive augmented reality experience while the vehicle is operating (Whatever that means).
Ford is also actively working on developing hands-free driving or what he calls, conditional autonomy and a more sophisticated user interface. These, together with the company’s other innovations, he concluded, would allow Ford users to have an experience that will blow your mind and make you feel like you’re in a science fiction movie.