by Mike Caudill, President & CEO of DRIVEN360
Is the “rise of electric vehicles…” the ultimate cliché or proper forecasting of the near future? Before we get into where I see the surge of electric vehicles going, let me provide some background on where it’s been.
Most people, including some journalists covering the surge in electrification in the auto industry, seem to look at 2021 as the dawn of electric vehicles (EVs). We can follow the topical high-level thought, as it seems to be covered in every news cycle, but the simple reality is electrification of the industry has been around long before any of us were born. Although the historical narrative isn’t relevant today, it’s worth a mild consideration as the first production electric vehicle dates all the way back to the late 1800s. It may surprise you, but at that time, there were many inventors focused on electric vehicles with stored battery power, as gasoline was simply not the predominant technology. It can’t be denied that these inventors were way ahead of their time.
At that time, electric vehicles had very limited range, and as a result, stations were created where drivers could swap dead batteries for charged ones. What a novel idea! The legendary Ferdinand Porsche was one of the most notable inventors of his time by creating the world’s first all-wheel-drive electric vehicle containing four electric motors, one for each wheel hub. Fast forward nearly 120 years later, and we are still discussing the relevance of electric vehicles and how to make them mainstream. Although the Ferdinand and the Porsche brand discovered wealth by creating vehicles using petroleum-based fuels, we’re sure he’d look at electrification as a missed opportunity.
Now let’s bring it back to today – nearly every automaker has announced global plans to electrify its vehicles. General Motors will have 30 electric-based vehicles by 2025, with its luxury-brand, Cadillac, announcing they will have 100 in a decade. Toyota said they will have marked 70 by 2050, and Ford has not announced numbers, but already has the Mustang Mach-E in the market and the Ford Lightning on the way. They also have the Ford Transit van that is electric optioned.
Now the question remains: Why now? Is it the environment? Politics? Is it simply time to evolve?
The answer? It’s all the above.
Technology is ever-changing and the way we propel our vehicles is part of that technology change. But the truth is, we have been at this for the past 25 years with several serious EVs now in the market, and many more coming to market. To date, Tesla is truly leading the way by only offering electric vehicles, while creating an almost cult-like following around its products.
But are Americans ready to buy electric? Easy to say yes, but the numbers do not lie. According to different sources, EVs make up less than 2% of U.S. new-vehicle sales and about 3% worldwide. So even if automakers provide more electric options, convincing the consumer to purchase is still a challenge. Then, there’s the mileage issue. Additional surveys tell us that the average consumer drives less than 40 miles each day. However, this average is skewed. In big metropolitan cities, that average daily commute skyrockets as people living in cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, Dallas, and more, all have long highway commutes, creating yet another deterrent to purchasing an EV.
With all this said, we haven’t even touched on powering electric vehicles. The main source of electricity will be coal, natural gas, hydro, wind turbine and solar. We best not dare mention nuclear! But there are some serious questions right now about how many of the world’s antiquated power grids will be able to sustain electrification for years to come.
We are here to tell you there are solutions. The small technology companies that back the big automakers are the rising stars. For example, some of DRIVEN360’s clients are focusing on vehicle electrification:
- Auto Motive Power (AMP) provides the right mix of Battery Management Systems technology that make electric vehicle smarter, batteries last longer and charge faster than ever before.
- NexTech Batteries provides automakers with the right battery chemistry to allow vehicles to travel further on less battery charge.
- Beep has a clear focus on autonomous vehicles that are powered by electric technology where the vehicle’s computer completely controls the speed and distance, making for a safe, stress-free and eco-friendly, driverless experience.
If you are focused on the environment and want to experience a new way to buy and own a vehicle - iconic automotive designer and DRIVEN360 client Henrik Fisker, may perhaps be the next legendary brand name in the auto industry. Fisker’s affordable electric vehicle The Ocean is set to come to market in 2022, and will be built out of recycled materials. The Ocean is fully electric and is offered as part of an all-new purchasing experience where you can lease the vehicle for any amount of time, and return it whenever you are ready.
How about off-roading? Twisted Automotive announced the arrival of the Twisted NAS-E, which is an all-electric, fully customized, classic Land Rover Defender. This vehicle is not to be confused with the current Defender. This is a super SUV with tons of horsepower and torque, packed with luxury and bespoke design that stands out in a crowd.
The future of the auto industry is bright. Gas powered vehicles will remain the mainstream selection for consumers, but every year moving forward, we will see more of a migration toward EVs. Maybe not all electric, perhaps by hybrids, plug-in hybrids and other forms of cool technology.
You must take risks to move the needle, and it’s obvious some automakers are. Will they be successful? We’re not the ones to speculate on that, but instead of fighting it, we’re studying it, as should you.
Happy driving and we’ll see you on the road