Even as doubt and uncertainty have clouded the concept of all-electric cars for decades, they have come to be the centrepiece of the R&D efforts being carried out by nearly all automobile manufacturers today. Reason? Increasing air pollution, the human race’s quest to reduce dependence on non-renewable resources, et cetera. But mainly the rise in air pollution. The year 2019 saw quite a turn around in the EV industry. So much so that names like Porsche and Aston Martin – which were known for their ICE (internal combustion engine) performance cars – have entered the EV business.
Auto manufacturers have committed some $225 billion to the electrification of cars this year with the likes of Jaguar announcing that all its cars would be electric not very far in the future. Ford which has so far not rolled out an EV recently showed off the upcoming Mustang Mach-E and the electric F-150 pick-up. Speaking of pick-ups, Tesla Cybertruck has been making headlines for months now.
Tesla is so far unstoppable
Yes, several car manufacturers are following Tesla’s suit but so far Elon Musk’s electric roll is unstoppable. Tesla has registered a profitable quarter as Model 3 sales have surged, and Model Y and Cybertruck’s popularity means its stock price is at an all-time high. Tesla is benefiting from and is expanding with its factory nearly complete in China and plans to open another outside Berlin in Germany.
Volkswagen, Ford, others are right on Tesla’s tail
While a full transformation of our automobile market when electric cars become a norm is still years or maybe decades away but 2019 saw auto manufacturers investing in and developing their electric platforms. According to a Quartz report, VW leads with an investment of $44 billion on its ‘electric offensive’ and a promise to abandon the development of ICEs by 2026 and sell 40% EVs by 2030. Ford Motor Company has now invested $500 million into electric truck startup Rivian and at least $11 billion in new EV investments rolling out the Mustang Mach-E crossover SUV.
Range anxiety or now, the lack of it
Mark Reuss, President of GM, wrote for CNN that most consumers surveyed by GM said that they want at least 300 miles (480 km) of range. Truth be told, the majority of electric cars on sale today globally – almost 90% are six models with a range of 238 miles (381 km) or more (three Tesla models, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Hyundai Kona, Kia Niro). Hyundai Kona is currently the only electric SUV on sale in India and promises a range of about 452 km.
Electric transporters and delivery vehicles
A recent development from Amazon made big news when the e-commerce giant ordered 1 lakh electric delivery vans from the Detroit-startup Rivian. Here in India, we’ve come across a lot of news relating to state governments ordering electric buses to include in their public transport fleets. For example, the inter-ministerial committee for electric vehicles sanctioned 5,645 electric buses for intracity operations in 65 cities and intercity operations to 8 state transport undertakings in July this year. The likes of Tata Motors, BYD have been bagging government orders for supplying electric buses.
Infraprime Logistics became the first to roll out a heavy-duty 60-tonne truck in India this year. Designed, developed, and built in India, the truck is essentially a medium-haul logistics vehicle for transporting, for example, aggregates from mines for construction sites, cement companies, etc. The claimed range between charges is 400 km (without payload) and 200 km (with load).
Electrics at global motor shows
The more recent editions of the annual event of CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas are now abuzz with electric and self-driving tech and gadgets. The likes of the Geneva Motor Show which used to be about fast cars are still about fast cars but they’re now electric. For example, Lamborghini showcased its first plug-in hybrid Sian at this year’s Frankfurt Auto Show. Speaking of plug-in hybrids, McLaren, Porsche, and even Ferrari have PHEVs. McLaren P1, in fact, has a battery-only range of over 30 km and that of Porsche 918 Spyder is over 19 km.
Porsche’s, Aston Martin’s, Ford’s first
Porsche introduced its first all-electric car Taycan this year promising a range of 412-450 km between charges and a top speed of 260 km/h. The Taycan is also the first EV in the world to feature a two-speed transmission. The 2019 Shanghai Motor Show witnessed the launch of the first-ever all-electric production Aston Martin as the brand revealed the Rapide E. Limited to just 155 units, the Rapide E has a range of 322 km and does 0-100 km/h in under four seconds. Ford recently unveiled its first-ever all-electric car which is scheduled to go on sale in the second half of 2020. The crossover SUV carries a familiar moniker in its name – Mustang. The Mustang Mach E promises a range of up to 482 km.
EVs in India
Even until some months ago, you couldn’t buy an electric car in India. There was the Mahindra e2o (discontinued in May this year) but it had a limited range of 120 km. Now though, you can purchase a Hyundai Kona or if you’d like to be spoilt for choice, MG will soon be launching the Kona rival ZS EV. Also, on the more affordable front, Mahindra is likely to launch the e-KUV100 at the 2020 Auto Expo. A lot of shared mobility companies are switching to all-electric fleets in India, for eg. a Delhi start-up Prakriti E-Mobility, recently announced it will roll out a fleet of 100% electric cars for an app-based EV cab service called Evera in Delhi/NCR region this month. We now precisely have a decade to fulfill the government ambition of going 30% all-electric by 2030 and we are now starting to make progress towards it.
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