Are Consumers Clamoring for an All-EV Market?

By Jeffery Bellant May 27, 2021 200
Complete lineup of Tesla's electric cars exhibited at the Tesla Store in Washington D.C Complete lineup of Tesla's electric cars exhibited at the Tesla Store in Washington D.C

The 2022 Ford Lightning debuted with attention that even Steve Jobs could have appreciated.

On May 19, the battery-powered version of the legendary F-150 bolted into the media spotlight at Ford’s historic Rouge River plant in Dearborn, Mich.

The sharp-looking truck will start around $40,000 and promises 300 miles on an overnight charge, according to the automaker’s press release.

Even President Joe Biden visited the plant the day before the truck’s official introduction. The Secret Service allowed the septuagenarian to get behind the wheel and take a spin in the truck during his visit.

At press time, more than 70,000 consumers had dropped a deposit on the sleek EV version of America’s all-time selling pickup.

Ford has already introduced its 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E and plans to go all-electric by 2030.

General Motors is moving in the same direction, promising 30 new EVs globally by 2025 and going carbon neutral by 2040.

So, the EV train has left the station and it doesn’t look like it’s getting derailed.

But, man, this all seems…er…lightning fast.

Consider that Cox Automotive estimated that in Q1, electrified vehicles accounted for less than 8% of the total market.

To be fair, it was 4.8% in Q1 2020.

But going from 8% of the market to 100% of the market seems like a big leap to me.

When a great year in the new-car market hovers near 17 million sales (including fleets, etc.), consider that the Tesla sold less than 70,000 units in the first quarter.

Tesla, according to Cox, accounted for – wait for it – 71 percent of total EV sales in the quarter!

For a simple man with a liberal arts degree, the math doesn’t add up to me.

Granted, regular fuel cars won’t be going anywhere unless the government regulates… never mind.

I’ll admit, I’m just a journalist, not an engineer or a manufacturer. So maybe there’s a lot than I’m missing.

Is this new EV direction coming from the folks who dreamed up the Corvette or Mustang, or is this coming from the folks who sold us the Pontiac Aztec?

EVs are pricier than regular vehicles. Plus, EVs and hybrids sold today benefit from tax credits of up to $7,500. Is the federal government ready to pony up credits for millions of cars instead thousands?

Also, the service techs for regular cars are already in high demand. Where are the EV techs coming from?

With infrastructure the hot topic in Washington right now, what’s it going to take to set up enough charging stations in the U.S. for an all-EV world?

President Biden said he wants 500,000 charging stations by 2030, That would be a neat trick, because there are less than 200,000 gasoline stations in the U.S. now.

Then there is the issue of the electric grid and capacity.

I’m a lifelong Michigander who experienced the 2003 blackout and it wasn’t fun. My Jamaican mother-in-law was visiting at the time and mocked us for our inability to keep the lights on.

If we can’t keep electricity working in Texas during a  winter storm, can we power millions of automobiles?

And while we’re on Texas and pickups, what about farmers, ranchers and other truck drivers in places like Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas? 

Will an EV charging station take less time than a fuel pump when they hit that 300-mile capacity? 

For others, the environmental issue is a big draw EVs and hybrids. A recent Wall Street Journal article – comparing a Tesla Model 3 to a Toyota RAV4 –  relied on University of Toronto researchers to determine which is more environmentally friendly.

The article stated that Tesla generates 65% more emissions than the Toyota before it rolls off the assembly line. The reason is the building of a Tesla “generates more emissions because of the metals needed for its lithium-ion battery.”

However, once they hit the road, the Tesla begins to make up the difference and, according to the WSJ, the two vehicles have given off roughly the same emissions by the time they hit 20,600 miles.

After that, Tesla’s overall lifetime emissions are much lower, according to the article.

Still, I’m a huge fan of American innovation and I’m always amazed at how entrepreneurs in this country seem to come up with the next big thing at the right time.

I wonder, what happens if we develop some new technology in the next two decades that beats the EV model?  Will EVs end up being the automotive equivalent of skinny jeans? It’s unlikely. But either way, we’re betting the industry on EV.

Let’s hope we’re right.

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Last modified on Thursday, 27 May 2021 18:41