So Many Automakers Are Committing To Electrify So Many Of Their Cars

If just some of the automakers who’ve made statements committing to electrify a large percentage or all of their future products stay true to their word, the world ought to be swimming in plug-in cars by mid next decade.

Or sooner. Or so one might think given relatively radical projections made by automakers who only a few years back were looked at by EV advocates as recalcitrant “dinosaurs” or hiding behind allegedly clean diesels.

Of course a brave new automotive world has yet to materialize amidst the hyperbole, and aside from outliers, the market share for plug-in electrified vehicles in Europe is around 1.5 percent and in the U.S. it’s a bit over 1 percent.

Jaguar i-Pace Concept. A clean sheet design built as an EV.

But globally, a sea change in future “mobility solutions” is on the agenda even as American consumers flock to dealers to buy conventional trucks, SUVs and crossovers, and in the world over, amidst Big Electrification Plans, the inherited fossil fuel status quo persists.

If we are to believe a seismic shift in the way cars are propelled is imminent, it still therefore takes a measure of faith, but indicators are strong – so strong, in fact, barring unforeseen complications, a tipping point may well be on the near horizon.

There are a few key reasons for this. For one, automakers, in order to stay ahead of regulations threatening to slap them with penalties for failing to keep fleet averages above minimum emission and mpg targets, are now expressing positive vibes for plug-in vehicles.

Synergies pushing and pulling at the same time include also the rise of Tesla, a political climate worried about the global climate, and a growing constituency of people now interested in things billed as sustainable.

As such, just in the past few weeks we’ve heard from automakers including Jaguar-Land Rover and Aston Martin on accelerated plans to electrify their products on a timeline. JLR says by 2020 all models thereafter will be electrified. Aston Martin says its entire fleet will be offered in PHEV or EV format this decade.

SEE ALSO: Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Set to Launch a Dozen EVs by 2022

Those statements followed Volvo’s also-recent announcement that all new models produced after 2019 will be electrified in some form or fashion.

And last fall, as millions and billions in fines had put diesel in perceptive disgrace, Europe’s automakers were quickly distancing themselves from oil burners and embracing plug-ins.

SEE ALSO: Ford To Invest $4.5 Billion Into Electrified Vehicle Development

Most prominent was the VW Group, which after admitting 11 million vehicles had been equipped with “defeat devices,” said its Strategy 2025 will usher in 30 new battery electric vehicles by 2020 amongst its 13 brands.

“The company estimates that such vehicles could then account for around a quarter of the global passenger car market,” said the company in a statement. “The Volkswagen Group forecasts that its own BEV [battery electric vehicle] sales will be between two and three million units in 2025, equivalent to some 20 to 25 percent of the total unit sales expected at that time.”

And, at this month’s Frankfurt Auto Show, VW Group CEO Matthias Mueller said 80 electrified vehicles will be here by 2025 across the group’s brands, including VW, Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Skoda, Lamborghini, and Bugatti.

SEE ALSO: Half of Porsche Models Could Be Electric By 2023

VW’s intention to build 30 EVs by 2020 had been announced last fall, and coinciding with that was another bold statement by BMW at the Paris Motor Show. There CEO Harald Krueger said 15-25 percent of all BMW and Mini brand vehicles are to plug-in by 2025.

Also at the Paris Motor Show, Mercedes parent Daimler projected a similar 15-25 percent of all sales will be plug-in by 2025.

The Europeans are most interested in EVs. Unlike U.S. policy leaders who are pulling out of the Paris Accord on climate change and bending an ear to automakers asking for weakened 2022-2025 emissions standards, the Europeans are looking at climate change as seriously as a loaded .45 pointed at the planet’s skull.

Sympathies for the same are also emanating from Asia and China. The latter is now the largest auto market and largest plug-in market and as other nations have already, it is considering a ban on fossil fuel some time before 2040.

Japanese automaker Honda has meanwhile said by 2030 two-thirds of its global products will be “electrified” (code for either micro hybrid, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric, or fuel cell). And, just last week it said by 2025 two-thirds will be electrified in Europe.

“Here in Europe, we see this move towards electrification gathering pace at an even higher rate than elsewhere,” said Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo.

Toyota also is working on a long-term plan to be utterly green by 2050 (with no small help, it hopes, from fuel cell vehicles). And, while the Japanese automaker has primarily resisted EVs this decade, it’s now planning according to the Nikkei Asian Review, to begin mass production of EVs next decade.

Proving that automakers are doing what they are in large part because they have to, Subaru – which has no trucks and a better emission profile than some competitors whose fleet averages are pulled down by heavy fuel drinkers – will wait until 2021 to launch its first EV. And, the class champ, Mazda, which sells no trucks, and whose U.S. fleet average is above a healthy 30 mpg plans to wait until 2035 before most of its cars are electrified.

Or so it says now. If things actually progress as it seems regulators and automakers are hunkering down in anticipation for, critical mass may as mentioned swing things faster than even wild-eyed optimists would have predicted in 2010.

And so far, this does not count the high-end luxury and supercar makers but at least Aston Martin has said by 2030 25 percent of its sales will be electrified.

Tesla has put a big spotlight on EVs, and captured the public’s imagination.

Some of the elites, including Lamborghini and Ferrari and Rolls Royce and others are avoiding pure battery electrics however.

Despite what Tesla is trying to prove, these makers say their customer base wants what at best only plug-in hybrids can provide. Objections to pure EVs include “limitations” such as high curb weight, inability to lap race courses (or fast non-stop road courses) competitively, and lack of fast-fill long range afforded by gas, among other concerns.

Plug-in hybrids, by the way, are being embraced by luxury makers because the way the regulations are set up, they are like the perfect solution to pass government tests. That is, with help from the vehicles’ tame EV mode or battery assist, they can ace emission sniff tests and provide mpg to brag about. Once their relatively small batteries run out however, they resort to 300-600 horsepower hybrids and even a herd of hybrid horses drinks a lot of fuel when run hard.

For example, in May 2013 Porsche said the then-pending 416 horsepower Panamera S-E Hybrid could net 54 real world mpg even with some Autobahn driving at as high as 143 mph was included in a test loop.

The U.S. EPA later said the car was good for 25 mpg combined from its 50 MPGe powertrain, and real-world use of the car’s potential can cut that mpg in half. https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=34789

But not to pick on one brand, the same phenomenon can be generally true for any power plug-in hybrid and other brands implying one may eat cake and have it too skirt the edge of accuracy. Actually, one may not in the same drive enjoy max range and mpg while enjoying amazing 0-60 times, and aggressive performance with foot to the floor. It is either fast performance / or superlative energy efficiency and range – not both – but advocates otherwise say things are moving in the right direction. A sedate driver may now choose to nurse out relatively great efficiency numbers from cars that formerly could only deliver relatively poor numbers.

The Porsche Mission E may much better fulfill what the Panamera S-E-Hybrid promised. Price for the 2020 EV could start around $85,000.

To be fair also, the same is true of powerful pure EVs. They can promise superb range, but not if you drive it like you’re running from the cops – or in markets like Europe where it’s legal, just driving with aplomb.

But so it goes, and in the mix of mixed motives to greenify fleets, automakers are also saying their production costs will be steep, profits will be less, and some will lose money on specific models for the first several years as they go ahead with their commitments.

Going ahead anyway, they are, as the global market is being inexorably pulled by a rip tide toward electrification which for all anyone knows may only intensify now that it is reaching critical mass.


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