EV Torque - Signalling the end of the ICE age

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Words: Mark Gilbert
3 Apr 2021

If you are still doubting that we are on the threshold of the EV evolution, it’s time to readjust your thinking. Over the past year we have seen automaker after automaker announce their intention to adopt an electric future. On top of that, cities, states and nations are falling in behind, signaling upcoming bans on petrol-powered vehicles.

In 2020, nearly every major auto manufacturer announced, unveiled or debuted new electric vehicles. Tesla continues to take the lead, but the others are chasing them down. Traditional OEMs like GM, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai Motor Group and the VW Group are taking major steps forward. It’s pleasing to see the American auto-giants making bold commitments.

GM announced that by 2025 it will introduce 30 new EV models, using its new Ultium battery technology. And it plans to sell EV retrofit kits later this year so you can convert your old Suburban.

Ford has similarly committed to electrifying its fleet with the new Mach-e already on sale in the USA. The planned electric versions of the F150 truck and Transit vans will likely arrive in 2022, similarly timed with rivals from Ram and Chevrolet.

Ford also announced that it will produce EVs for Europe from its Cologne factory in Germany. I am not sure if the UK is still classified as ‘Europe’ when it comes to car production, so we still need to wait and see when Ford makes right-hand drive EV models available.

The trend in the US is seen in the other major automotive players too. VW, Volvo and subsidiary Polestar, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, BMW and Hyundai Motor Group all announced new electric models last year.

The latter promised two dozen new dedicated fully electric vehicles. The Niro and Kona EVs were previously adapted ICE models, which is often how automotive brands begin their transition.

Start-ups in the EV space are also making progress, and it will be interesting to see how they are greeted by consumers. If Tesla is any indication, then expect them to go well. The Lucid Air was unveiled in September 2020. It’s expensive but quick. There is also Lordstown’s pick-up, the Sony e model and the rumoured Apple e autonomous model.

It’s more than the announcement of new electric models that gives you confidence in the future, it is rapidly developing battery technology that will power them. Tesla extended the range of the Model Y to an impressive 650kms. This is a 20 per cent improvement over the 2019 model. During its Battery Day event, the company announced plans to develop a new generation of less expensive, more capable batteries within the next few years. This would see a Tesla model costing as little as US$25,000. And when Elon says he will do something, he tends to follow through!

As the automotive companies focus on new models and ramping up supply, jurisdictions are setting deadlines for this change. By December 2020, there were 31 countries and U.S. states with some form of petrol car ban pending. Norway and South Korea are the most aggressive, not surprisingly, with a new petrol vehicle ban in place from 2025. Slovenia, Iceland, the Netherlands, Ireland, India, Denmark, Sweden, Israel, Germany and the United Kingdom all have 2030 end dates in train.

You may be surprised that Japan has a 2035 date, while China is typically dragging the chain with a 2040 date in the calendar.

Change is afoot in the USA too, particularly with the emergence of Biden as President. The Zero Emissions Transportation Association (ZETA) formed by Tesla and 25 other members was set up to promote and advocate further adoption of EV technologies and services. California has moved to ban the sale of new ICE vehicles by 2035. Washington, New York and Hawaii will likely follow this direction soon.

With technology lining up with regulation, the EV future will arrive faster than we may have ever imagined.

This article first appeared in the April 2021 issue of NZ Autocar magazine.


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