Electric cars are coming soon to a road near you, and that could signal the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine.
A recent spate of announcements from the biggest names in the auto industry has put electric vehicle development front and center. Some carmakers have even pledged to release only all-electric or electrified vehicles — which include hybrid engines that run on electric power at least some of the time — by certain target dates.
If these promises come to bear, the next decade will see a major shift in production trends, bringing electric vehicles to the streets in unprecedented numbers. That shift has already started, with a wave of all-electric cars built for mass appeal like the Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model 3 now available. The next few years will see even more growth in the EV space.
Since most major automakers have at least outlined plans for electrification, we’ve compiled a list of where they stand on EVs and when we can expect to see the new cars out on the road.
GM said it plans to phase out gas-powered vehicles for an “all-electric future” but didn’t give an exact date for an all-EV line. The effort starts, however, with plans for 20 all-electric vehicles by 2023.
Ford created the EV-dedicated “Team Edison” to focus on the development of all-electric cars. The automaker also pledged to invest $4.5 billion over five years on new all-electric and hybrid vehicles, with 13 new models slated for release by 2023.
Toyota and Mazda recently announced that they’re teaming up with auto-parts manufacturer Senso to create a new company to develop basic EV technology for use across multiple vehicle types and models, expanding beyond Toyota’s Prius line. The two Japanese carmakers also pledged to build a $1.6 billion U.S.-based plant by 2021, where they’ll work on electric and hybrid vehicles.
Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, will invest $1 billion in an Alabama plant to produce all-electric SUVs and build a battery facility, and $10 billion in EV development overall. Mercedes-Benz outlined a plan to electrify its “entire portfolio” by 2022, offering 50 electric and hybrid models.
The Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi alliance will work together to develop new systems to use across their vehicle lines, with a focus on “purely electric” EVs like the Nissan Leaf. The automakers plan to release 12 all-electric models by 2022.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plans to electrify its entire vehicle lineup by 2020, with new powertrains ranging from mild hybrid vehicles to all-electric systems.
Volvo will electrify its entire vehicle line by 2019, with five all-electric models slated to roll out from 2019 to 2021. The automaker hopes to sell one million of the electric and hybrid cars by 2025.
VW Group, parent of European automakers like Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche, will invest $84 billion in EV development. Roughly $60 billion of the total will be dedicated to battery production, but the company also plans to offer electric and hybrid versions of 300 vehicles by 2030.
The push from government
These automakers aren’t working on electrification solely for innovation’s sake. All of these EV plans come in the face of two threats to internal combustion engines: the rise of Tesla, and a growing movement to restrict the use of traditional combustion engines to cut down on vehicle emissions.
Tesla briefly held the title of the most valuable car manufacturer in the U.S. earlier this year. That valuation had nothing to do with the number of cars Elon Musk’s company was selling, which was (and still is) a fraction of the output of established automakers like GM or Ford. Instead, Tesla’s value was driven by the perception that it’s better positioned to produce all-electric cars than OG automakers going forward.
Tesla isn’t just showing the public that all-electric cars can actually work IRL — it’s proving to its automotive peers that consumers are interested in driving EVs. To keep pace, traditional automakers need to offer drivers an all-electric experience to keep them interested, too.
Traditional car companies are also shifting to focus on EV production because they might be forced to abandon the internal combustion engine in the near future. There are multiple efforts around the world to restrict the use of cars powered by gas and diesel alone, encouraging the use of EVs.
China, the world’s biggest car market, is working on an outright ban on gas-powered vehicles to combat air pollution and is ramping up efforts to build out electric driving infrastructure. France and the UK announced that new gas and diesel vehicles will be banned by 2040, and other countries like Norway and India have established their own goals for EV adoption. There hasn’t been any talk of gas bans in the U.S., but there are efforts to promote electric and hybrid vehicles at the state level.
All of these factors mean more EVs will be on the roads than ever before in the near future. If you buy a new car in the next few years, there’s a good chance it’ll either be a hybrid or all-electric — assuming you haven’t ditched gas for good already.