Signs point to 2021 being a big year for electric cars. Even though EV volume is a relatively small share of the overall market, the market is beginning to stir. Electrics account for about 2% of sales. But 2021 sees a major push by manufacturers to introduce new models. More EVs are likely to spark a sales surge.
Ralf Brandstätter, who heads global passenger cars for Volkswagen,
believes the inflection point may have happened last year. He said, “2020 was a turning point for Volkswagen and marked a breakthrough in electric mobility.” Worldwide deliveries of EVs at VW totaled more than 212,000 last year. “We are well on track to achieve our aim of becoming the market leader in battery electric vehicles,” Brandstätter said. “More than any other company, we stand for attractive and affordable e-mobility.”
Volkswagen’s serious push into the electric car market begins later this year with the introduction of the VW ID.4, a dedicated EV unlike the e-Golf, which is derived from the conventional gas-powered hatchback.
EV launches ramp up
The pace of new electric car introductions is also quickening. Between now and 2030, Kelley Blue Book parent company, Cox Automotive, estimates that between 90 and 100 new EVs will come to the market.
“The electric vehicle market is poised for growth that should exceed the growth expected in the overall new-vehicle market in 2021,” predicts Jonathan Smoke, Vice President and Chief Economist for Cox Automotive. “The EV segment managed to grow share in a down year in 2020 when the pandemic not only impacted demand but delayed the launch of new models.
Smoke adds that “Next year should see more market attention and excitement for the segment as more than a dozen new models will give consumers more choice in body style and price points along with greater range. We expect EVs to grow enough to double their share of the new vehicle market by 2022.”
With vehicles like the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E earning honors as the North American Utility of the year, electric cars continue to garner more attention.
What electric car buyers are looking for
According to data gleaned from KBB.com, EV intenders also cross-shop compact SUVs. This interest underscores the overall popularity of these vehicles. It is also one reason why manufacturers are concentrating their EV efforts on crossover SUVs and pickups. In addition to electric SUVs currently on the market like the Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron, and Tesla
Model Y, Ford
is launching its crossover-inspired Mustang Mach-E, and Volvo
has introduced the XC40-based Recharge EV.
There’s a full slate of electric pickup trucks on the horizon ranging from a relatively conventional Ford F-150 to the radically styled Tesla Cybertruck. Interest in these vehicles is extremely high, with nearly 40% of shoppers considering the technology.
KBB research also shows that EV shoppers would like to see more sedan offerings, but there are few beyond the Tesla Model S and 3. The Porsche
Taycan and Polestar 2 are the only traditional 4-doors out there, soon followed by the BMW i4.
What electric vehicle buyers expect
A study of EV shoppers by KBB also reveals what they expect in range, battery life, and charging infrastructure. Most EV shoppers expect to buy a vehicle with a range of about 240 miles. But they would prefer one that goes 300 miles between charges. Shoppers also said they’d be willing to accept an EV with a range as low as 184 miles.
Those in the EV market are looking for a battery life of about seven years, which goes to how knowledgeable they are about the state of current technology. Virtually all EV makers guarantee their batteries last eight years without falling below 80% of their capacity when new.
EV shoppers are also realistic about recharging infrastructure. Most are willing to pay extra for fast charging. They also recognize that there may not be enough charging stations near their homes or work. Most would like to see some type of mobile battery recharging service as a new service.
Barriers to electric car ownership
On the flip side, those who aren’t in the market for EVs cite their high cost. About 70% list the high price as a reason not to buy. Another 87% rightly believe that EVs cost more than conventional vehicles. Nearly as many, 83%, cite charging issues as another reason not to buy an EV.
Left to be seen is the importance of the $7,500 federal tax credit to potential buyers. Both Tesla and GM
no longer offer the credit as buyer eligibility phased out as these two makers crossed the 200,000-unit threshold.
The future of electric vehicles
A return to higher emission and fuel economy regulations due to the Biden administration and legislation to improve charging infrastructure may spur future EV sales. But even before these changes take effect, manufacturers already have announced aggressive plans to electrify their product lines.
The impetus for this change lies in the new technology that puts established and startup makers on almost equal footing. As Tesla has proven, electric vehicle technologies have significantly lowered the barriers to new competition in the auto market. Technological breakthroughs that further reduce costs will enable EV sales to grow and new competitors to enter the market.
This technological shift benefits electric car shoppers. There will be a wider selection of EVs from which to choose, in different price ranges and configurations from compact hatchbacks to full-size pickups and SUVs. It may herald the dawn of a new electric car age.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.