Most of us know about Tesla, a maker of electric vehicles (EVs), and have seen its cars driving around. Many of us know that Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has been rated as the richest person on Earth, largely because of the company. It seems, however, that not many of us know much about electric vehicles. We should ask ourselves why that is. After all, stopping climate change will require us to stop emitting carbon dioxide created when we burn gasoline and diesel oil.
In February of 2022, Reuters published a graphics article “The long road to electric cars,” on electric EVs in the United States (https://tmsnrt.rs/3mpIi9G). That article tells us that IHS Markit projects U.S. EV sales to be 45% of the total car market in 2035, a rate at which about half of the cars on the road would be EVs by 2050. Believing that is not a fast enough transition, President Joe Biden has set a goal to have 50% of all car sales be EVs by 2030.
In 2021, the Reuters article says, full battery EVs accounted for 3% of all U.S. car sales, and hybrids were 5%. Clearly, to reach the president’s goal of 50% by 2030, there will have to be an enormous growth in EV sales.
It is worthwhile to understand how 3% of car sales in the U.S. compares to sales in other countries. Sales of cars in most – possibly all – markets have fallen badly in the last two years, but despite this, sales of EVs have increased greatly. This is true in Germany and France, respectively the largest and second largest car markets in Europe. A look at a couple of other markets is compelling, however.
In Norway, cars powered entirely by gasoline and diesel took 7.9% of the market. Plugless hybrids won another 7%. Plugin hybrids accounted for 11.9% of the cars sold. The rest of the cars, 73.2% of all cars sold, were powered entirely by batteries, according to a CleanTechnica article (https://bit.ly/GET-EVs-1). That is especially interesting because oil and gas have made up a very large percentage of Norway’s income for many years.
Another country that is especially interesting is Denmark. In January of 2020, 3% of the cars sold were battery-electric, and 4% were plugin hybrids. In those respects, the Danish market at that time was similar to what the U.S. market is today. The interesting thing is that in December of 2021, battery-electric cars took 27% of the Danish market, and plugin hybrids took 31%, according to an article at CleanTechnica (https://bit.ly/GET-Evs-2). That change shows what can happen in less than two years.
We could conclude that the EV market in the U.S. is barely moving, compared to what is going on in other countries. There are some signs of hope, however. While it would not be possible for the percentage of EVs sold in the U.S. to be multiplied by ten in two years, as it was in Denmark, car makers in this country are putting billions of dollars into preparing plants to manufacture EVs.
In some cases, the EV revolution’s course is planned. Buick, for example, has announced that as of 2030, it will not make any more cars powered by fossil fuels and will only make battery EVs. And GM as a whole will convert emissions-free cars entirely by 2035. Mary Barra, CEO of GM, has said that the company intends to overtake Tesla’s leadership in the EV market by 2025, only three years off, according to an article at Motley Fool (https://bit.ly/GET-EVs-3).
We should consider why EVs have grown so slowly in this country. Clearly people have been disinclined to buy them because of perceptions about them. We can point out that these perceptions are, in fact, mistaken.
Many people seem concerned about range issues. Such issues are not based on driving range for everyday life, however. Most people seldom travel more than 50 miles in a day, but most current EVs have ranges of 200 miles or more and can be charged at home, overnight.
Some people are concerned that EVs lack power. The truth is that many EVs have much more power than their fossil fuel counterparts. In fact, Jay Leno set a record for the quarter mile in a production car, driving a Tesla Model S Plaid. The record had been 9.4 seconds, but Leno, who is hardly a professional driver, made the run in 9.247 seconds, according to an article at Yahoo (https://yhoo.it/3MyhSNM).
The cost of an EV is a concern for many people. But a bit of math will show that because EVs are so much less expensive to drive, its cost is actually lower over time.
One barrier has been governments at various levels exercising control over the marketplace in ways that make it difficult to sell an EV. We can only address that in the polling booth or hope that it is successfully addressed in court.
All told; however, we anticipate big changes in the next few years, possibly changes some people can’t imagine.