The global transition to battery powered electric vehicles (EVs) is gathering pace and the emergence of several key EV hubs in the US means that this is only set to continue. The marketplace today paints a contrasting picture of progress when it comes to bringing EV tech to the public though. Europe witnessed the highest share of new electric car registrations in 2020 with 1.4 million registrations, followed by China (1.2 million) and the United States (295 000).
While it could be argued that the US is lagging behind, President Biden’s planned $174 billion investment in the EV market is set to overturn the status quo. Developments in lithium-ion battery industries detailed in the president’s plan will light the fuse for the electrification plans, and in turn, merit the need for a legion of senior professionals.
There are currently 12 planned battery production ‘Gigafactories’ in the US. Tesla West is one such hub. With an already huge Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada employing around 7,000 people and possessing around 13.6 million square feet of floorspace, Tesla plans to hire almost 10,000 employees.
A $2.3 billion battery plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee is set to open by late 2023. The joint operation between LG Chem Ltd and American multinational, General Motors, will produce batteries for the Lyriq, the Cadillac’s first fully electric vehicle. Along with their 3 million square foot plant in Lordstown, Ohio plant, the partnership is expected to announce future battery plant plans. Georgia has also put itself on the EV map with South Korean’s SK Innovation’s $1.67 billion investment in two Gigafactories in the state.
Previous growth of the EV market in the US has been steady. A recent study from Pew Research Centre, reports that just 7 per cent of adults currently own an electric or hybrid car. Although there has been continual EV progress within key metropolitan states including California, New York, Washington and Florida, the most interesting metrics relate to the growth of Gigafactories across new states in the US.
Arizona is becoming an EV manufacturing hot spot with a flurry of new hubs too. There are a number of exciting, emerging projects in the area;
Texas is making its mark too with Tesla currently working on its Austin Gigafactory and plans to employ around 5,000 workers with an estimated 13,000 employees by 2024. Supplying Tesla, General Motors and Ford, Taiwanese Hota Industrial Manufacturing, has also announced plans to set up its first factory in the oil state.
The US government’s billion-dollar investment outlined in its American Jobs Plan, demonstrates its commitment to electrification and the subsequent altering of its domestic supply chain. Shifts of such ambitious proportions will require an internal workforce ready to upskill.
However, preceding full implementation is the more pressing need for the construction of its planned Gigafactories and the retooling of dormant factories supported by its Brownfield grants. The scale of the Gigafactories signals the need for a significant number of senior civil engineering, design, technology, energy, HR and communications experts to instigate and lead the EV evolution in the US.
The next 10 years will also require a big push on infrastructure in the installation of charging stations to meet clean energy demands. According to a 2018 analysis, demands in electricity will rise 38 per cent by 2050, producing further employment opportunities to coordinate an anticipated modernisation of the US national grid.
This is a hugely interesting area of work with a lot of scope for progression, and the importance of the roles is only likely to increase further into the future as the US takes steps to increase its production of EV technology. High quality talent will be in sharp demand, so preparing the talent pipeline today is critical to meet the needs of tomorrow.
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