When Los Angeles—a city infamous for its high levels of air pollution—ranks among the highest in air-quality levels around the globe, people tend to take notice. This location was among 10 major cities worldwide studied in April by IQAir for pollutant levels in the air amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The common bond among the 10 cities studied was a relatively high number of confirmed cases and lockdown measures associated with COVID-19. The study compared levels of PM 2.5, which are harmful microscopic particulate matter that can lodge deep into a person’s lungs. According to the World Health Organization, nine out of 10 people breathe air containing high pollutant levels, and air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide annually.

While manufacturing plants and refineries contribute to high air pollution levels worldwide, data is beginning to show that improved air quality amid the COVID-19 pandemic has much to do with the lower level of gas-burning vehicles on the roads each day.

As stated by IQAir regarding the report, the fact that this improvement in air quality corresponds with the tragic impacts of COVID-19 is “bittersweet.”

According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, in general, electric vehicles produce fewer emissions that contribute to climate change and smog when compared with conventional vehicles. While all vehicles produce substantial life cycle emissions (which includes all emissions related to fuel and vehicle production, processing, distribution, use, and recycling/disposal), electric vehicles will typically produce fewer due to the fact emissions are lower for electricity generation.

What’s Next?

As lockdowns around the globe begin to lift, demand for an electric-based transportation infrastructure—including electric vehicles, electric buses, battery electric and hydrogen fuel-cell fleet trucks, and charging stations —could be on the rise.

Research firm Markets and Markets projects that post COVID-19, the global electric vehicle and electric vehicle infrastructure market will reach 4.18 million units by 2021 from an estimated 3.42 million units in 2020, at a compounded annual growth rate of 22.1%. While this projection is down by 34% as compared to pre-COVID estimation, it still shows the rate of demand will be strong.

Such demand levels, however, carry a set of adoption hurdles, including “range anxiety” (the fear of running out of battery before reaching your destination) and ease of charging. According to IHS Markit, while public charging infrastructure clearly needs to be abundant, available, and reliable to combat these concerns, it also needs to provide a seamless experience much like that of gasoline refueling.

Driving Towards Resiliency

For manufacturers, it centers on the idea of establishing resilient supply chains that allow for greater visibility and capacity, capability, inventory, demand, and risk across the value chain. It can also mean building localized supply chains and creating more collaborative relationships with suppliers.

Ryerson is able to support charging station manufacturers with material for NEMA 4 and 4X enclosures (a set of standards from the National Electric Manufacturers Association for enclosures which house electrical components). This includes carbon steel, 304/304L stainless steel, 316/316L stainless steel, and 5052-H32 aluminum to protect the components inside the station from outdoor elements. Tube laser cutting capabilities can handle custom pedestal parts, delivered cut with holes and notches, painted, ready for final assembly.

“We understand most companies right now want to conserve cash during such a volatile time, and we’re here to help,” says Amanda Seabaugh, Ryerson’s Director, Vertical and Emerging Markets. “With more than 100 locations, we can deliver material when you need it. Just-in-time delivery allows you to effectively manage your working capital in order to get through these tough times.”

Ryerson also brings longevity, having been in business for over 177 years. “We are here for you today and will be here for you tomorrow,” adds Seabaugh. “If that isn’t resiliency, I don’t know what is.”