Among the emerging technologies expected to propel growth opportunities in the automotive sector is a big push toward electric vehicles with related manufacturing investments, according to findings published in April in Frost & Sullivan’s Global Automotive Industry Outlook, 2018. Joe Praveen Vijayakumar, Mobility Senior Industry Analyst, noted that one of the enablers of electrification is a decline in electric vehicle (EV) battery prices.
The enthusiasm for electrification was on full display at the Auto China 2018 show that opened in Beijing in late April, an indication of how fast the Chinese market has become the biggest one for “new energy” vehicles.
Buick announced its Enspire all-electric concept SUV with eMotion electric propulsion technology that generates 410 kW for 0-60 mph acceleration in 4 s, allows for travel of up to 370 mi on a single charge, and supports both fast and wireless charging.
Mercedes-Benz presented its high-end Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury, a crossover with sedan and SUV design elements conceived as an electric vehicle with four compact permanent-magnet synchronous motors and fully variable all-wheel drive.
BMW says the Concept iX3 it debuted is its first to be driven purely by electric power (by way of fifth-generation of its eDrive technology) and a future production version will be produced by the BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture in Shenyang, China.
Many vehicle unveilings in Beijing came with grand plans from their respective OEMs.
In announcing plug-in hybrid electric vehicle versions of the Corolla and Levin, Toyota said it is set to introduce 10 new electrified vehicles in China by 2020 and it will further promote local production of electric motors, batteries, inverters, and other electrified-vehicle core technologies.
Nissan brought three zero-emissions vehicles including the company’s first electric vehicle made in China, which reinforces its ambition to become China’s EV leader by delivering more than 20 electrified models over the next five years across the Nissan, Venucia, Infiniti, and Dongfeng brands.
A lot of hype has surrounded modern electrified cars ever since General Motors introduced the EV1 and Toyota the Prius over 20 years ago, but sales of the pure electric variety have been slow to take hold—especially in the U.S.
EV proponent Ted Annis, Manager and Co-founder of Transducing Energy Devices, LLC (www.tedmagnetics.com), emphasizes four advantages of electric cars that will increase their popularity: fuel cost savings, environmental friendliness, low maintenance, and quiet operation.
Market challenges for pure EVs have included consumer range anxiety, high vehicle prices, and the lack of charging stations and universal charging standards. Despite these issues, researcher LMC Automotive predicts 75 electric models will be produced in the U.S. over the next five years.
While China continues to incentivize its EV market to reduce pollution and advance local new-energy-vehicle know-how, the push in the U.S. has sputtered. However, many in the U.S. are calling for an expansion of EV incentives, including General Motors’ Mary Barra and Tesla’s Elon Musk, and there is evidence showing strong consumer support for incentives.
Among the results of an Autolist.com survey of 1154 current vehicle owners in March, 74% of consumers say the tax credit would affect their decision to buy an EV; 63% of consumers say the $7500 credit is important to support EV adoption in the U.S; and one-third of consumers think the 200,000 vehicle cap on the tax credit should be lifted all together.
As most industry constituents would agree, the automotive industry has its work cut out for it. Government regulations to increase efficiency and reduce emissions have been challenged by high fuel supply and low prices and consumer indifference to electrified technology. The industry and government must do more to educate consumers on the benefits of electrification and encourage them to buy cleaner and more efficient electrified technologies—or there might be many EVs that have problems finding buyers.