Volvo made a big announcement in the summer of 2017 that every vehicle they manufacture in 2019 would have an electric motor, marking the end of cars they produce with only an internal combustion engine. Though they did not meet this goal, they are still making a big push towards electric vehicles with their “electrification” movement.
Volvo is not the only manufacturer shifting towards electric vehicles. A Mashable article from October 2017 sights over 11 manufacturers who have plans to release numerous hybrid and all-electric vehicles by the early 2020s. Some of them, such as Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover, are planning to offer an electrified version for their entire model lineup. This is due, in large part, to increasingly stricter emissions requirements by the government, along with an effort to keep up with Tesla.
How close are manufacturers to meeting the goals they set forth in mid-late 2017? When can we expect to see more gas and diesel models eliminated from their lineups? What are the hold ups for moving to exclusively electric vehicles? This article will cover all the important details on the move to electric vehicles.
The current EV space
According to a recent Wards Intelligence report (as referenced in this NPR article), there are nearly 100 non-gas car models (plug-in hybrids, all-electric, and fuel cell) on the market as of the 2019 model year, a 69% increase from 2018. More battery-powered electric vehicles are set for release this year, such as the 2019 Audi E-Tron (May 2019), 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC (Fall of 2019), 2019 and Kia Niro EV (Spring of 2019), as well as few set for release in 2020, including the Volvo all-electric XC40, Porsche Taycan, Kia Soul EV, and Tesla Model Y. There are still a number of manufacturers that do not offer any all-electric vehicles, however, plug-in hybrids are becoming more widely available.
The near future
Some of the top manufacturers in the automotive space have set some ambitious goals for the electrification of their vehicle lineups in the near future. Volvo was the most aggressive with their goal (set in July 2017) of electrifying their entire lineup by 2019. Half of their lineup is now available in plug-in hybrid versions, and according to their website, they will have five new fully-battery electric vehicles in their lineup by 2025. Many other manufacturers also offer several mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid options and are moving towards electrifying more of their vehicles. However, we are still years away from all-electric models replacing their gas-powered predecessors.
In the same Wards Intelligence report, analysts are projecting that the number of non-gas car models will nearly triple by 2025 with just as many all-electric options as plug-in hybrid options. “Automakers are planning to launch no fewer than 85 new battery-powered models by 2025.” However, it is predicted that global sales for the EV market are likely to remain a single digit percentage until after 2025.
What’s the hold up?
Though auto manufacturers are investing billions of dollars in EV technology and working hard to electrify their model lineups, it will still be quite a few years before we start seeing a meaningful percentage of vehicle owners adopting electric. Most of the hurdles for adoption of electric vehicles have remained constant over the years, although they are starting to improve:
The cost up front for an electric vehicle (even with state rebate incentives) is still a good deal more than a gas-powered vehicle at this point, although the cost of ownership is arguably less. As batteries become less expensive, the cost of EVs will become more comparable if not cheaper.
Charging infrastructure and charge time
The number of charging spots is starting to expand with over 63k total charging spots in the U.S., as shown on the ChargePoint website. However, there are triple the amount of gas stations and pumping gas isn’t nearly as involved.
Infrastructure is not as big of a deal for homeowners with personal charging stations, especially since electric vehicle driving range continues to increase, but not everyone will have access to their own charger. As manufacturers lead the way, infrastructure will have to follow suit in order to support the growing need for charging stations with quicker charge times.
Consumers want big vehicles
There’s still a large demand for SUVs and trucks, with increasing sales every year. As a result, Ford eliminated most of their cars, other than their flagship Mustang and a few others, to channel their energy into their SUVs and trucks. Unfortunately, not many larger SUVs and trucks are available as hybrids or electrics at this point, although both GM and Ford will change that over the next couple years.
The demise of internal combustion engines
So back to the ultimate question: when will internal combustion engines be fully replaced? There is no set date, but it won’t be for at least another 20-25 years before the majority of gas-powered vehicles are off the roads. It will take at least 10 years for all manufacturers to completely switch over to all-electric vehicles based on the goals they’ve set, and the average life of a vehicle on the road today is 12 years. In order to speed up this process, the government would need to get involved and start regulating or eliminating the use of gas-powered vehicles.
We should expect to see the number of electric vehicle models increase quite a bit over the next couple years and the cost of these vehicles start to drop.