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Overcoming Product Development Challenges in EV Manufacturing

Young lady on phone charging her electric car at a charging stationDuring your morning walk to the coffee shop or drive into work, chances are you’ll encounter an electric vehicle (EV). Today, more and more EVs are populating our roads as we look at new ways to combat global warming and its negative impact on our health, ecosystems, and infrastructure.

Governments worldwide are establishing legislation for more stringent greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets and carbon-neutral transportation. The Biden administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law sets a target for 50% of all new U.S. vehicle sales to be electric by 20301, and the European Climate Law seeks to achieve a net-zero GHG emission target for all EU countries by 20502.

These laws combined with consumers’ increasing demand for alternative and more sustainable transportation modes are sparking new innovations in the electric mobility (e-mobility) industry. As new players look to compete and acquire market share, established original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are racing to launch new products and gain first-mover advantage.

Although tremendous growth opportunity lies ahead for EV manufacturers, it doesn’t come without challenges. In this post, we review some of the hurdles that electric transportation companies encounter as they strive to innovate in a fiercely competitive and volatile market. We also reveal how a cloud-based product lifecycle management (PLM) solution can help them overcome these challenges and achieve new product development and introduction (NPDI) success.


Meeting Consumer Demands

Despite consumers’ growing interest in electric transportation, widespread adoption is still a hurdle due to factors such as higher cost, shorter driving range, low battery charging capacity, and lengthy charging times. Manufacturers must continue to optimize their designs to address these concerns and alter buyer perceptions.

When it comes to batteries, academic labs and companies are searching for ways to improve the technology—boosting capacity, speeding charging times, and cutting costs. Right now, the goal is to find even more affordable batteries that will enable EVs to drive much farther on a single charge while also providing cheap grid storage. Concerns about the availability of crucial battery components like cobalt and lithium are driving a search for alternatives to the predominant lithium-ion chemistry.

One advancement to watch for is the so-called solid-state batteries. Lithium-ion batteries and related chemistries use a liquid electrolyte that shuttles charge around; solid-state batteries replace this liquid with ceramics or other solid materials. This switch makes it possible to store more energy in a smaller amount of space, potentially improving the driving range of electric vehicles. Additionally, faster charge movement could result in faster charging periods for solid-state batteries. Solid-state battery proponents assert that by reducing the danger of fire caused by some of the solvents used in electrolytes, which can be flammable, they increase safety.

Consumers’ appetite for smart features like voice assistants, automatic climate control, and adaptive cruise control with lane assist is another key consideration for electric transportation manufacturers as they look to attract new customers and differentiate themselves from the competition. To provide customers a connected, personalized experience, manufacturers are having to manage more sophisticated product designs with the integration of advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors, and artificial intelligence (AI).

New standards for a made-in-the-U.S. national network of electric vehicle chargers

Electric Vehicle Product DesignThe Biden-Harris administration recently unveiled its newest set of initiatives to build an accessible, dependable, and Made-in-America electric vehicle (EV) charging network to electrify the great American road journey. These steps will help the U.S. meet the president’s ambitious goals to confront the climate crisis, by building a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers along America’s highways and in our communities and have EVs make up at least 50% of new car sales by 2030, all while advancing an industrial strategy to continue to build out the domestic EV and EV charging industry. Manufacturing and installation positions with competitive compensation are being created as part of the transition to net-zero emissions by 2050.3

Managing Product and Environmental Compliance

In addition to meeting stringent emission targets, EV manufacturers must also keep up with ever-changing environmental regulations and quality standards to successfully launch their products.

Environmental regulations such as Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) limit the use of certain hazardous materials for the manufacture of products. To demonstrate compliance, EV manufacturers need to document and track the components and raw materials that are used to produce their products throughout the entire lifecycle. Responsible sourcing and reporting of conflict minerals such as cobalt and lithium for battery production is also necessary to avoid compliance risks.

The ISO 9001 standard provides a framework for establishing a quality system that drives continuous improvement and customer satisfaction. To meet ISO requirements, manufacturers must effectively manage training documentation, standard operating procedures (SOPs), customer requirements, corrective and preventive actions (CAPAs), and other quality processes that are tied to their product. This is increasingly important for EV manufacturers to ensure they deliver a high-quality experience to customers.

Improving Supply Chain Collaboration

In this age of pandemics, natural disasters, and other supply chain disruptions, EV manufacturers are finding it harder to source critical parts and materials from around the globe and deliver products on time. To gain full visibility into part shortages and other sourcing issues, OEMs must drive frequent, real-time communication with their multitiered supply chain partners. However, reliance on chat apps, spreadsheets, and other siloed systems makes it difficult for teams to collaborate and share information effectively. And because these systems are not connected to the product record, it becomes nearly impossible to keep up with the constant design changes that occur throughout NPDI.

Strategies for overcoming product development challenges in EV manufacturing

• Investing in R&D to drive innovation and solve technical challenges
• Building a resilient and diversified supply chain
• Engaging with policymakers and advocating for supportive regulations
• Fostering a culture of collaboration and teamwork throughout the organization


Getting products to market fast while addressing customer needs, regulatory requirements, and supply chain disruptions can be difficult to accomplish without the right product development solution. EV companies need to ensure effective communication and alignment between product development stakeholders.

Enterprise systems like cloud-based product lifecycle management (PLM) software bring the entire product record into a centralized platform. This enables manufacturers to keep track of customer requirements, regulatory mandates, design changes, CAPAs, and other processes that are critical to NPDI success. The ability to aggregate the entire product design comprised of sensors, firmware, software, mechanical, and electrical components ensures interoperability and helps manufacturers manage increasing product complexity as customers’ demands continue to evolve.

Because internal product teams and external supply chain partners can access Cloud PLM from any location and collaborate in real time, they can quickly address part shortages, quality issues, and other factors that impede production.

Also, having the ability to seamlessly integrate the PLM system with component databases, such as Octopart and SiliconExpert, gives manufacturers full visibility into current market availability and compliance information so they can source high-quality parts while adhering to environmental regulations.

Are you an EV manufacturer? What’s your biggest product development hurdle? Share your thoughts with us on social.

For additional insights, visit our EV manufacturing resource page.