Electric Vehicles Pick Up Steam, Driven by Gov’ts and Car Makers

As urban populations worldwide continue to grow, experts warn of increased pollution and congested streets. Urban mobility is a key focus of planners, and electric vehicles are sure to be a major component of fighting both broad-scale climate change and local air pollution.

Automakers and governments are increasing their efforts to pave the way for more electric vehicles, and governments and private companies are also working to rapidly build out an infrastructure of charging stations. All this, plus the ongoing rapid fall in battery prices, is increasing enthusiasm for electric vehicles. Here’s a look at some of the major EV-related developments of recent weeks.

Governments Move to Ban Gas-Powered Cars

The Chinese government says it will eventually ban the sales of vehicles powered by fossil fuels, though it has yet to set a date. But Beijing in late September said it will demand that automakers accelerate their production of electric vehicles by 2019. The move is expected to increase EV production worldwide, as automakers work to meet the demands of the largest car market in the world.  Earlier this year the government relaxed rules for certain foreign companies, a move that should make it easier for them to build EVs in China.

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Other nations are also banning, or considering banning, the sale of gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles over the next few decades. Among the countries and their targets:

  • India wants all vehicles sold to be electric by 2030, though officials say that target is more “aspirational” than set in stone.
  • Norway, where 40% of all cars sold last year were hybrid or pure electric, says all new cars and vans sold starting in 2025 must be zero-emission.
  • Britain said in July that it will ban the sale of new gas and diesel cars starting in 2040. By a decade later, all cars on British roads will have to be zero emission.
  • France also wants to ban fossil fuel vehicle sales by 2040.
  • Germany is considering a deadline to end the sale of gas and diesel vehicles, though nothing has been set as yet.
  • Countries that have set official targets for the sale of EVs include Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Korea and Spain.
  • The U.S. federal government doesn’t have a formal policy, but at least eight states have set their own goals.


Car Makers Respond

Automakers are preparing for a new reality in which electricity replaces fossil fuels on a growing number of the world’s roads. Some recent developments:

  • The world’s biggest carmaker, Volkswagen, says it will offer electric versions of all its 300 models by 2030, and will offer 80 new electric car models by 2025.
  • Volvo said this summer it will produce only electric or hybrid cars by 2019.
  • General Motors has started selling the all-electric Bolt in the U.S. and intends to produce more electric vehicles, for sale in the U.S. and in China.
  • BMW said in September that by 2025, it will offer 12 all-electric cars and 13 hybrids.
  • Jaguar Land Rover says all of its new vehicles will be electric or hybrid starting in 2020.
  • Mercedes-Benz says its entire range will have electric or hybrid versions by 2022.
  • Telsa is getting set to unveil its all-electric semi truck in late October.

And vacuum cleaner maker Dyson just announced plans to sell electric cars starting in 2020, investing $2 billion in its development.  Its staff have been working on the secret project for the past two years at its headquarters, reports the BBC.

Building Out a Charging Infrastructure

All of these electric cars will need plenty of new charging stations to get around. China is taking the lead here, with plans to build 800,000 EV charging points this year to meet increasing demand

Europe is also a hot market for EV charging stations. Companies like Engie and ChargePoint are planning to build pan-European networks of fast-charging stations, says Reuters. British company InstaVolt has raised £12 million ($16 million) to install 3,000 charging points across the UK by 2020. Morgan Stanley has estimated that Europe could need between 1 million and 3 million charging points by 2030 to meet the growing demand.

Expanding the charging station infrastructure will be crucial to gaining widespread adoption of EVs, experts say. Indeed, after price, “range anxiety” is the main concern that consumers have when they consider an electric vehicle.

EV Forecasts on the Rise

All this activity has market watchers upping their forecasts for the growth of the EV market.

  • Bloomberg New Energy Finance, for instance, recently bumped up its estimate of the EV market share in 2040, from 35% of all new car sales to 54%.
  • Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, estimates EVs will make up 32% global auto sales by 2040. The battery market will grow to $180 billion in sales by 2040,up  from just $450 million in 2015. Goldman says..
  • Research firm Bernstein thinks EVs will comprise 40% of all new car sales by 2038.
  • JPMorgan is even more bullish, with its analyst forecasting that electric cars will account for 35% of the global market by 2025 and 48% by 2030.



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