Electric cars have been a niche market since their arrival. Even as the best-selling electric car to date, the Nissan LEAF sold just 14,006 units in the United States in 2016. As a whole industry, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric cars together made up less than one percent of overall US sales in the previous calendar year.
Yet, carmakers are banking on the EV market as the future in the business. There have been announcements in recent months from major manufacturers regarding their EV philosophy and intentions for the next few years. While some are tight-lipped about developments, others like Volvo, BMW, and now Mazda, have made their intentions very public.
Carmakers Announce an EV Future
Mazda Motor Corp
On September 15th, reports in Japan stated that Mazda will make every vehicle in their lineup either an electric or hybrid-electric powertrain by the early 2030s. it’s a massive philosophy shift for the Japanese carmaker as the only electrified vehicle in their current lineup is a hybrid Mazda3 for overseas markets.
In July, Volvo Cars was one of a few carmakers who announced a redirection with their vehicles. Their press release states that every vehicle “it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor, marking the historic end of cars that only have an internal combustion engine (ICE) and placing electrification at the core of its future business.”
Earlier this month, BMW Chairman of the Board of Management Harald Kruger unveiled the luxury carmakers future strategy. He boldly committed that BMW plans to have 25 electrified vehicles by 2025, 12 of which are fully electric-powered. With the BMW i3 and i8 already to market, the technology is in their wheelhouse to do so.
Ford Motor Company
Last month, Ford announced a joint venture in China to develop electric vehicles with Zotye. Their current electric car strategy includes 13 electric vehicles introduced globally within five years, including an all-electric small SUV here at home.
Lincoln Motor Company
The Lincoln brand of premium vehicles will offer a hybrid gas-electric powertrain option on all its models by the year 2022, according to a source for Reuters. Details of their strategy are expected next month.
Volkswagen’s electric car promise is known as ‘Strategy 2025’. As many as 30 electric car models will be made available by the year 2025. The VW e-Golf is a start for them, and concepts like the BUDD-e van are evidence of their direction.
Are Electric Cars Here to Stay?
It seems that electric vehicles will be more than a flash in the pan. Dutch bank ING predicts it’s more than a trend. Their forecast is that all new cars sold in Europe by 2035 will be electric-powered. France has committed to banning new gas-powered vehicle sales by the year 2040. And at home, Tony Seba of Stanford University predicts the oil industry will collapse by 2030 due to the shift towards electric cars.
The largest automotive market in the world, China, has recently announced intentions to ban internal combustion engines in new cars completely. While there’s no date mentioned for implementation, it gives a clear picture of the global direction carmakers must go to stay relevant. That could mean the current model of business is in its swansong, and it gives a clear window into an electrified future.
What It Means for the Auto Industry
The direction into an electrified vehicle market signifies a pivotal period for the traditional auto industry. It’s yet to be seen how electric cars – not to mention autonomous vehicle development – will affect vehicle ownership as well as length of ownership.
What it certainly means is that dealerships must be prepared to handle an influx of electric and hybrid vehicles. Service and parts departments must change their course to accommodate a different type of vehicle servicing, with EV repair training at the foundation.
What was once a niche market, and largely still is today, won’t be in the next 15 to 20 years, according to predictions from the experts. The retail auto industry had best prepare.