The question is no longer “who killed the electric car?”, but “who’s driving it?” This year the answer to that question is more and American consumers are driving electric cars every day. More efficient vehicles are driving Americans further than ever before on less and less fuel and that’s big news for our wallets, lowering fuel consumption and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
Last year’s historic rulemaking, setting the highest fuel economy standards in a generation to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, will play a huge role in reducing transportation oil dependence. Today, news that electric vehicle sales are expected to reach 3.8 million by 2020 shows that consumers are also embracing another way to reduce our reliance on foreign energy sources.
U.S. consumers did not always see the electric car as a viable vehicle for reducing pollution and our reliance on gas. In 2000, about 9,000 of the first mass market hybrid-electric vehicles (Toyota Prius and Honda insight) were sold in their first year on the U.S. market. However, the first year plug-in electric vehicles (Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf) were widely available, nearly twice as many (17,000) were sold. There are now nearly 40 different new plug-in models on the market. Over the last two years, plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) has grown especially rapidly, reaching more than 120,000 unit sales worldwide in 2012. At this growth rate, market share of hybrids, plug-ins and pure electric vehicles will greatly surpass expectations over the next decade, meaning the goal of 54.5mpg by 2025 might be met even sooner.
The advantages of driving an electric car, just like sales, are also growing. Electric vehicles are energy efficient, environmentally friendly and gaining in performance also. Additionally, driving range is growing exponentially; battery recharge times are decreasing and bulk, weight and battery cost are also all decreasing.
With the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, a showcase of the current fleet of vehicles and future of the industry, around the corner in January it’s doubtless that even more electric vehicles will be on display. Electric vehicles aren’t going away any time soon and trends show they could be come as ubiquitous as the gas-powered vehicle. The cars of the future won’t be flying, as we thought they might be by now, but they will continue to be a realistic solution to reducing our reliance on foreign oil and becoming more energy independent.