(REPOST: The Hill)
BMW said it will sell half a million electric vehicles by 2019 and the long serving head of Fiat Chrysler told colleagues they have less than a decade to adapt to massive changes in the automotive industry, including widespread electrification.
These are just the latest bits of news in a long running trend toward electrifying the transport sector. This is a process that will disrupt old business models and invite attacks on electric vehicles, including the argument that they are not really any better for the environment. Yet the data is clear — electric vehicles are simply better for the planet, and the trend will extend beyond cars to include buses, trucks and even planes.
The shift to electric automobile propulsion began with Toyota hybrids in 1997 then accelerated with Tesla electric vehicles in 2008. With their Roadster, Tesla demonstrated that electric vehicles need not be boring econobox city cars. With the Model S, it proved that full range luxury electric sedans with high performance were possible. In fact, in 2015 Consumer Reports declared the Model S “the best car they ever tested.”
The success of electric vehicles will not only be driven by policy but also by performance and cost. Electric vehicles are in fact better cars – fewer moving parts, weight ideally distributed front-to-rear below the car’s center of gravity, big crumple safety zones up front, near instantaneous torque response, and full torque from standstill. Battery costs are falling rapidly and range is increasing, addressing two of the main problems of early models.
Tesla’s Model 3, along with the Chevrolet Bolt and many other models soon to be released, are bringing electric cars into the mainstream. All the auto majors are now rushing to electrify their fleets.