Blockchain’s role in the development of the electric vehicle industry

By Mitull Batraa

Owing to its immutable tracking, sharing, and securing capabilities, blockchain technology can benefit the emerging sector of EVs by creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Electric vehicles (EVs) are touted to be the future of the automobile industry but their full potential is yet to be realized. While experts suggest different methods to make EVs a mainstay of both public and private transportation, all agree that the use of blockchain technology can bring a transformative change in the segment of EVs. Also known as an open ledger solution, blockchain comes equipped with a host of characteristics that can be used to boost the appeal of EVs among the masses.  There are a host of areas where the use of blockchain can help although the following are key operational fields where the technology can bring a transformative change to the EV industry: 

1) Tracking Suppliers: The EV industry is in the initial phase of creating, maintaining, and controlling its value chain. This is happening through the creation of linkages between suppliers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders in the value chain and this is exactly where the relevance of blockchain networks comes into prominence. The ability of blockchains to track and trace the origin of supplies, components, and other raw materials can be utilized by the EV industry to establish a dynamic and vibrant value chain. For example, EV manufacturers can use blockchain to track the supply of precious metals such as Lithium, Cobalt, Wolframite, etc., that are being sourced from third-world countries. This tracking ability not only helps in streamlining the sourcing operations but also prevents unauthorized temperings that might impact the quality of the finished product. 

2) Streamlining Production: Blockchain-based supplies are likely to have a rub-off on the production of EVs. By decentralizing information, open ledgers help production managers to effectively plan, schedule, run, and control plant operations. These networks can predict supply disruptions, inventory shortages, and transportation delays well in advance, thereby helping the manufacturers in contingency planning for ensuring a smooth and uninterrupted flow of supplies to the market.  Further, the decentralized characteristics of blockchain also allow EV manufacturers to inspect the quality, plan warehouse operations, schedule shipping to partners, and streamline final delivery to customers. Moreover, the fact that all entries on the blockchain are immutable and no party can change or manipulate the records take the utility of blockchain for the EV industry to a different level altogether.   

3) Managing Recalls: EVs are at an early stage of their development and it’s not uncommon to see many companies recalling vehicles for rectifying inadvertent errors. However, the recalling exercise is not easy and entails a lot of effort to identify defective vehicles, communicate with customers, coordinate with dealerships, and carry out rectifying procedures. Blockchain can come in handy here and by accurately identifying the faulty components sourced from specific suppliers, the technology can convert the otherwise very complex process into a simplified procedure. Not to mention that EV manufacturers can bring home significant cost savings by using blockchain platforms for their recall operations. 

4) Power Sharing: One of the major stumbling blocks in the widespread option of EVs is the rarity of the charging points. However, the blockchain can offer a solution to this issue through its revolutionary peer-to-peer (P2P) charger-sharing concept. This concept allows users to share their chargers/charging ports with others when they are idle and not in use. The payment for the sourcing power facility is done digitally and a few such projects that are already operational globally are already proving quite successful in addressing the lack of charging infrastructure. As always, both power-sharing and monetary transactions processed on blockchain platforms offer unmatched safety, security, and immutability characteristics to users.  

5) Digital Records: Digital records on Blockchain networks can offer complete information about EVs to prospective buyers. Especially in the case of buying used EVs, these immutable records can prove instrumental in supplying authentic information in terms of vehicles’  accident history, service records, conditions of exteriors/interiors, and status of battery among others. This will take away the hassle of getting vehicles verified by a third party and offer a true and immutable record to prospective buyers. 

Unlike the popular belief that blockchain is primarily used in the financial technology sector the technology has multiple use cases that spread across business verticals. Especially when it comes to EVs, the use of an open ledger can help industry stakeholders in creating, communicating, and delivering superior value propositions to the target market. Blockchain can help EV companies in sourcing raw materials, streamlining production, and fixing segmented supply chains. Further, the technology can also aid manufacturers in vehicle recalls, sharing charging infrastructure and delivering better value to prospective buyers. In sum, blockchain has the capability to completely transform EVs and it’s just a matter of time before the use of the blockchain becomes common in the EV industry. 

The author is co-founder, Udaan E Vehicles

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