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Driving into the Future: How the Rise of EVs is Impacting Charleston and South Carolina’s Economy

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May 16, 2023

By Jillian Bunting, Marketing Communications Manager

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the DIG South Tech Summit, where I listened to an intriguing panel discussion on the impact of electric vehicles (EVs) on businesses and the workforce. Moderated by Eddie Cogdill, the EV coordinator of the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the panel featured Jon Sattler, senior consultant of P3 USA, Ernest Eich, CEO of Shandoka Electric Motorcycles, and William Fugate, U.S. business development manager of SkyDrive.

During the discussion, the panelists highlighted the opportunities that the EV market presents for the state of South Carolina and Charleston. With over 16.5 million electric cars on the road globally in 2021, the EV market has grown rapidly over the past few years. The trend is expected to continue as more companies, such as Redwood, Scout and Volvo, enter the market, creating new opportunities for Charleston’s technical colleges and universities to expand their offerings and train a workforce for these jobs.

The panelists also discussed the region’s evolving transportation landscape, which is poised for significant changes due to the advent of this new type of vehicle. As businesses prepare themselves for this change, they must consider infrastructure needs such as grid connections, parking and smart charging stations. Identifying the most suitable vehicles for their operations and leveraging federal and state government incentives and public financing will be crucial to their success.

South Carolina has secured a $25 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish an advanced manufacturing research center that will focus on developing cutting-edge technologies for the automotive and aerospace industries. This investment will create new job opportunities in the state and help position South Carolina as a leader in the growing EV market. As the demand for electric vehicles continues to increase, this research center will play a critical role in advancing technology and driving innovation in this field.

The state’s auto industry is already well-established, and its proximity to the battery supply center makes it an ideal location for EV production. As the demand for engineers and other technical specialists grows, South Carolina will become a more competitive location for businesses looking to set up shop. Graduates in these fields will have many opportunities to stay in the state, rather than having to move elsewhere to find work.

The shift towards electrification will have broad impacts on various sectors of the economy, including transportation, logistics, manufacturing and infrastructure. For example, EVs require a different kind of maintenance than traditional vehicles, which means dealerships will need technical and trade school employees to help with repairs. Another exciting development is the recycling of batteries, which can be processed repeatedly. With Redwood Materials establishing operations in Berkeley County, they will focus on recycling batteries in the U.S., rather than outsourcing this process to other countries.

South Carolina is poised to become an exciting hub for the future of mobility, with the expansion of SkyDrive to the state and the promising developments in the electric vertical takeoff and landing (EVTOL) space. As a result of its commitment to innovation and creating a supportive business environment, South Carolina is an attractive location for businesses and individuals interested in the growing EV market. With a robust supply chain, a strong military presence, and a thriving aerospace industry, the state is on track to become a major player in the EV market. It’s exciting to see the Jetsons’ vision of the future becoming a reality in South Carolina!

 

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