Officials grappling with questions about more electric vehicles on roads



(The Center Square) — From the need for more high-voltage electricians to the wear and tear on the state’s roads to grid capacity, South Carolina officials are debating their next steps as more motorists opt for electric vehicles.

“We were once a textile-rich state from a manufacturing perspective, and now we’re a very different state with automotive and aerospace and advanced manufacturing,” Tony Moore, director of operations for the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, said during an Interagency EV Working Group Meeting. “We can make this pivot. We just have to be mindful of – it’s going to require a lot of change management.”

South Carolina officials are pondering the same questions as their counterparts in other states.

“We’ve been having conversations around the transition to electric vehicles for the last 10-plus years,” said Andi Rawl, executive director of the South Carolina Automotive Council. “One thing is the grid infrastructure for charging – what capacity needs there might be. You’re going to start having a lot more people pull electricity off the grid.

“Other considerations include wear and tear on the roads,” Rawl added. “We talked about the vehicles being heavier in weight. So, what does that do, and as more people start charging versus buying fuel, what will that do to the SC fuel tax? How is that going to impact that – because … that money goes back into funding our roads.”

Developing an electric vehicle supply chain is complex. Much of it is relying on China. Developing a domestic-based supply chain requires a “massive investment” and “takes a lot of time to actually get from the mining and the material extraction to a finished product,” Moore said.

“Even though there’s massive investment happening to get that process reshored, we can’t expect it to be flipping a switch and just be in production,” Moore said. “It’s going to have a ramp-up curve. It takes some time.

“There’s not going to be enough capacity and batteries to keep the EV market exactly where it needs to be. If by 2030, if we get all the production in America, we’re still going to have about a third of our production coming from overseas, primarily from China. So, the major constraint of the entire EV ramp-up will come down to ‘can we get the batteries?’ And then there’ll be a lot of variation on battery supply as well.”



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