Top Ten Stories of 2020: EVs Charge Ahead

Photo: Michael Movchin / Felix Müller, Wikimedia CC

This year two “EVs” repeatedly made headlines — environmental voters and electric vehicles.  When we look back in 2035, by which time we should have converted completely to renewable energy, 2020 could be seen as the year when the auto industry fully committed to the transition to electric vehicles and trucks.  Despite the fact that some car companies backed President Trump’s rollback of the “clean car rule” that seemed to undercut the push for electric vehicles, most of the big car companies began to plan for their fleets to transition to electric vehicles. Some companies like Ford, Volvo, VW, and Mercedes made a bigger bet than others, and Ford publicly committed to stick with California and continued to move ahead with plans for cleaner cars, pushed by Tesla and other new car companies trying to break through.

Why?  There were several reasons for this new interest in electric vehicles.

First, investment in electric vehicles and their components and infrastructure continue to grow in spite of the pandemic and economic downturn, not to mention the infancy of the market.  According to MarketWatch.com, there is “sky high” investor interest in clean energy and electric vehicle companies using a new form of initial public offering (IPO) in which investors merge with a company and take it public immediately. Tesla is the new Apple when it comes to stocks, apparently.  For example, according to Axios, “Rivian closed a $2.5 billion funding round ahead of the production launch next year of its SUV, pickup, and delivery vehicles for Amazon,” and “Karma Automotive, which is in the early stages of producing a plug-in hybrid sports car, has raised another $100 million.”

Second, President-elect Biden’s new clean energy jobs proposal revives the “cash for clunkers” program but in a way that would juice this market.  You can get the cash for your old car, but only if you use it to purchase a new EV that is made in the USA.  And Biden would use the government’s purchasing power to changeover its fleet of vehicles to domestic EVs. Now that would put the pedal to the metal on US EV production.

Third, the number of electric vehicle models available to consumers is expected to more than triple in the next three years, from roughly 40 to 127 in the United States, as they’re expected to get much cheaper. Batteries are typically the most expensive part of electric vehicles, but the United States Department of Energy expects that battery costs will fall dramatically.

The bottom line:  the United States in 2020 was a crossroads in its relationship with gas-powered vehicles.   And it seems like our future will soon be electric — and we can’t wait for that Mustang EV!  

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