So you want an electric car. You’re not alone — surveys show that consumer interest in EVs is steadily rising. People are slowly becoming convinced that EVs are real, not some distant techno-future.
But consumers are also confused. There’s a lot of hype and misinformation floating around about EVs.
I thought it would be helpful to share this simple chart, from the folks over at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. It shows the battery electric vehicles, or BEVs (not hybrids or plug-in hybrids) currently available and coming soon, how much they cost, and how far they can go on a charge.
The cars in black text are the currently available models; green text is forthcoming models about which specific details have been released; blue text is models that have been announced, but no details yet made available. Range numbers are based on manufacturers’ estimates, not any kind of road testing, so take them with a grain of salt.
A few things to note about this:
- Notice how bifurcated the current market is (the cars in black text). On one hand you have lots of cheap(ish), low-range vehicles; on the other you have Tesla, with its high-range, hella-expensive models. These are the two niche ends of the market; mass adoption will come when they meet in the middle.
- Now look at the EVs coming soon, in green. They’re meeting in the middle! This is why the debut of the Chevy Bolt is so significant — it is the first mass-market EV sitting squarely in the low-cost, high-range sweet spot.
- Now look one generation out (the cars in blue text). This shows that with virtually every new model announced, automakers are pushing further and further on both range and cost. If the 2018 Nissan Leaf really is around $25,000 and really will go 250 miles on a charge … that is big. And if it’s not the Leaf, it will be some other car, in 2019, or 2020, or 2022. Within five years, EVs will be both better and cheaper than gasoline cars.
- Left to its own devices, the transition to EVs isn’t going to happen fast enough. A recent study found that to secure a reasonable chance of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the year 2035 must mark the very last sale of a gasoline vehicle. In the world! 2035! That’s not very far away. Even BNEF’s optimistic forecast shows nothing close to that:
- Policymakers need get to work electrifying everything, most especially vehicles, ASAP.
Personal product-lust addendum:
I’m pretty geeked about the VW Budd-E. It’s not quite as reminiscent of the classic VW minibus as the last concept EV bus VW rolled out, but it’s still pretty sharp. It debuted at the 2016 CES show in Las Vegas, where it won "concept truck of the year."
I have been wanting a small electric van/bus for a long time. (The US EV market is utterly bereft of familymobiles — minivans, SUVs, crossovers — except for Tesla’s new Model X, a familymobile for billionaires.)
With its huge 101 kWh battery pack, the Budd-E gets over 230 miles on a charge. Speed tops out at 93 mph. It’s also wired to the gills, with all the latest net-connected gizmos. The side mirrors are actually cameras. The steering wheel is multi-function touchpad with haptic feedback. The vehicle responds to voice commands. And on and on. You can read lots more about the specs here.
It’s true that it will only fit a small family like mine (probably not enough cup holders for the average American consumer). And it’s true that VW has not promised to actually make the Budd-E — it has only promised that the tech within it will be available in production EVs by 2020. And it’s true that the debut of a sexy electric minibus concept is probably a crass marketing exercise timed to distract attention from VW’s spiraling dieselgate disaster, and I’m falling for it.
But still. I want one.