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Flexible Test Strategies Adapt to an Evolving EV Market

June 3, 2024

The road toward vehicle electrification has many twists and turns as potential customers alternate between enthusiasm for electric vehicles (EVs) and concerns over costs and the availability of adequate EV service equipment (EVSE) infrastructure.

Overview of the Current trends in the EV industry

At the beginning of 2024, Bloomberg estimated that EV volumes would increase 22% to 16.7 million units worldwide throughout the year (including plug-in and battery-electric passenger EVs but excluding commercial vehicles)—slightly down from earlier estimates. However, Bloomberg does expect growth to accelerate during the following two years as lower-cost EVs reach the market. Questions remain, however, over who will dominate this market—traditional automakers like BMW, Ford, GM, Stellantis, and Toyota, or EV-focused companies such as Tesla, Rivian, and China’s BYD. First-quarter 2024 sales data from these companies sheds little light on the subject.


Challenges in EV Adoption

The adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is confronted by two primary obstacles within the industry. Foremost among them is the insufficient development of charging infrastructure, closely followed by concerns surrounding the reliability of EVs themselves.


Concerns Over Charging Infrastructure

EVs remain a difficult sale to potential customers who lack confidence in being able to find convenient charging stations, so ongoing initiatives to build out EVSE infrastructure are critical.


Reliability Issues with EVs

The EVs themselves also have reliability problems. According to a recent survey by Consumer Reports, EV owners over a three-model-year period reported 79% more problems than owners of conventional cars. The reliability problems aren’t inherent to EV technology—electric drivetrains have fewer moving parts than do internal-combustion-engine drivetrains. Nevertheless, failures can occur in the electric traction motors themselves as well as in batteries, onboard chargers, battery-management systems, advanced driver assistance systems (ADASs), vehicle-to-grid (V2G) connectivity, and infotainment systems. Consumer Reports attributes the increased problems for EVs to manufacturers’ inexperience with EV production. The organization notes that EVs are manufactured by legacy automakers new to EV technology or by startups new to building any type of vehicle.


Initiatives to Address Challenges


Government funding for EVSE infrastructure and to improve EV reliabilityAMETEK Programmable Power_Testing EVs and Charge Stations_White Paper_cover

In the United States, the Federal Highway Administration in January 2024 announced $623 million in grants to help fund 47 EV charging and alternative-fueling infrastructure projects in 22 states and Puerto Rico, including the construction of approximately 7,500 EV charging ports. But problems remain. As reported by Kelley Blue Book, 18% of attempts to use a public charger to charge an EV in the U.S. failed during the last quarter of 2023.

Problems can range from grid instability to weak cellular signals for performance monitoring and payment processing. As an incentive to improve reliability, governments are imposing standards. For example, in the U.S., the Federal Highway Administration requires that chargers bought with federal funding meet a 97% uptime requirement, although details remain to be worked out over uptime data will be monitored and processed.

In addition, the U.S. government is investing $100 million in federal funding through its EV Charger Reliability and Accessibility Accelerator program to repair or replace faulty chargers.


Research and Development Efforts to Improve EV Reliability

Other efforts are also underway to boost reliability. For example, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a ride-through algorithm that can quickly restore charger operation after a grid disturbance as well as an additional algorithm that can allow a charger to compensate for internal faults.


Role of Programmable Power Products


Testing EVs and EVSE for Reliability

Experience will lead to higher quality. But manufacturers can move proactively to improve EV and EVSE reliability. As described in our white paper Programmable Power Products Boost Test of EVs and Charging Stations, programmable AC, and DC power supplies and loads have a key role in testing EVs and EVSE as the industry evolves. AMETEK Programmable Power products can adapt to new battery chemistries and rising voltage levels as EV and EVSE developers pursue longer driving ranges and higher efficiencies.

Specifically, programmable AC sources can serve as grid simulators, helping to measure how EV chargers respond to various AC input fluctuations as well as test V2G connectivity during events such as power outages when a vehicle's battery can be used to power certain critical loads. A regenerative DC source supply can act as a battery emulator to help evaluate how battery-connected components (chargers and traction inverters, for example) perform during charge and discharge cycles as well as any application where the load is highly inductive, minimizing the need for additional test components. Low-voltage DC programmable supplies can help test low-voltage electronic components, lights, and motors that control seat adjustment, windows, heating and air conditioning, and other functions.


Benefits of Using AMETEK Programmable Power AC and DC SuppliesScreenshot 2024-04-24 125747

AMETEK Programmable Power offers a range of programmable AC, DC, and AC + DC products that can serve the wide range of EV and EVSE test applications mentioned above and more. These products include the Sorensen Intelligent-Bidirectional Energy AMplified (i-BEAM) and Modular (Mi-BEAM) Series programmable bidirectional regenerative DC power supplies. Parallel systems can deliver up to 1.3 MW and 4,800 A. Additionally, AMETEK Programmable Power offers the Sequoia programmable four-quadrant regenerative AC grid simulator, which delivers 0 to 333 VAC L-N and 0 to 3,000 A/phase at ratings from 15 kVA to 1.08 MVA. For more on using these and other programmable-power products for EV and EVSE tests, see the aforementioned Programmable Power Products Boost Test of EVs and Charging Stations. In addition, see these white papers on related topics: