Is There A Supply Chain Problem For Hybrid Vehicles?

(24 September, 2021)

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We’re told that they’re driving us towards a greener future, but if, as a vehicle transportation specialist, you’re currently finding the hybrid vehicle journey a bumpy one, you’re not alone. Read on for our take on the current electric vehicle (EV) supply chain issue.  



Hybrid Supply Chains: What’s The Latest?

With a combination of grant-based and tax incentives, the UK government is trying to encourage the uptake of hybrid and fully-electric vehicles among both business and private customers. By reducing emissions, this approach contributes towards compliance with the 2050 climate strategy. However, these goals were placed in legislation without the support of a fully-developed infrastructure, especially in the case of the robustness of supply chains. As such, hybrid vehicles have faced a host of challenges in terms of their market viability. 

Supply Chain Woes: A Complex Chemistry

The primary supply chain challenge for electric and hybrid vehicles comes from the complexity of the components. Known as ‘rare earth metals’, lithium batteries and the technology that surrounds them include gold, silver, platinum, neodynum, terbium, and dysprosium. Many of these metals are hard to mine, often coming from regions experiencing unrest or political instability. This uncertainty is passed down through the supply chain, with production of batteries and circuit boards frequently stalled due to issues with microscopic volumes of crucial materials. As a result, research shows that hybrid vehicles are twice as vulnerable to supply chain interruptions as their counterparts. 

A Long-term Solution

The good news is that China, openly keen to dominate the EV market, is on the case via its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The aim of the BRI is to stabilise supply chains and supporting networks, but this is a vast and long-term undertaking. The Chinese have had to invest in new roads, ports, and train lines, along with education initiatives that will start to show their value in the next few decades. As a long-term solution, the approach is both sensible and proactive. 

Short-term Hybrid VehicleTtransport Solutions

Short of discovering previously unknown deposits of rare earth minerals, the best option for capitalising on the growth of the hybrid vehicle market is by optimising shipping. When it comes to EVs, containerised shipping is by far the best option. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that RORO operators actively discourage the transport of hybrids, and the shallower hulls of container ships offer a greater variety of route and docking choices. Mile for mile, container ships are cheaper, faster, and safer than their archaic counterparts, and have the added benefit of being suitable for partially finished vehicles, or EVs shipped without batteries.

Optimising The Container Experience

Container shipping may be the logical answer to transporting hybrid vehicles within an international supply chain, or to dealerships on the consumer market, but it pays to know what you’re doing. For instance, the use of high-quality re-usable steel racks such as the R-RAK optimises space so that up to four vehicles can be shipped in a single container. The financial rewards are cumulative over the ten-year lifespan of the rack, with the ROI further increased by the lowered costs offered by route choice, reduction in damage and theft risk, and speed.

When supply chain issues are on the horizon, racking solutions can also help to circumnavigate the problem: unlike ROROs, the use of a DL-RAK or EL-RAK means hybrid cars and vans can be loaded and unloaded via forklift without the requirement for an engine or battery, meaning the complex issue of batteries can be dealt with separately. 

What Next?

For more information about our containerised vehicle solutions, please give us a call today

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