Is the Electric Vehicle Revolution Really Going to Happen?

Sometimes progress seems like a juggernaut; sometimes a shining example of technological progress turns out to be a diversion.  In light of recent events, it’s worth asking: Which of these categories do electric vehicles fit into?

We say “in light of recent events” because some headlines have cropped up that detract from the sunny optimism common among electric vehicle (EV) supporters in the past 2 to 3 years. Let’s review those, but also review other, quieter events that indicate EV’s are here to stay, and already making a sizable impact.

Negative Indications

Recent developments include canceled vehicles, trouble at the biggest name in EV’s, and failure by the government to make important incentives a reality.

This month, Ford stopped sales of the Mach-E Mustang EV, because of a fault that could cause its electric motors to suddenly switch off. This comes after Ford shut down Mach-E ordering earlier this year. Ford also (in late 2021) canceled a joint vehicle project with the EV manufacturer Rivian.

But this story is a mix of good and bad news. The fault in the car can be fixed via recall and appears to be a factory problem rather than a design flaw. And the reason Ford stopped orders in the past? Demand for the car was so high that with current supply chain difficulties, Ford can’t keep up with orders. Meanwhile, the Rivian project was just one effort the companies were exploring, and its cancellation is not a strong negative indicator for either company, much less the whole industry.

Tesla has run into embarrassing public relations difficulties. Though Tesla EV’s are still the most famous example of the technology, antics by CEO Elon Musk, legal problems resulting from racist activities by some employees at their plants, and questions about how and when their Autopilot technology acts to avoid accidents have marred the brand’s image. On top of those problems, the media continues to refer to Teslas that have been in an accident while Autopilot is engaged as “self-driving,” when the cars were actually human-controlled.

Concerns about government incentives are rising. The Build Back Better bill, which included specific tax incentives for EV’s, failed to pass and is likely dead. Most analysts predict a GOP takeover of the House and Senate in 2022, and though voters from both parties tend to be personally supportive of EV’s, Republican politicians have blasted these incentives as wasteful spending.

Positive Indications

While obstacles exist, we remain confident that the EV fleet will continue to grow rapidly. Among the reasons for that confidence:

EV sales and demand remain high, with sales doubling in 2021. Keep in mind that sales in 2020 were one of the few bright spots in the pandemic and shocked many analysts. Supply chain issues that are holding back sales are mainly related to the pandemic, and each day moves them further toward resolution.

Corporate adoption is growing. Household name companies—including Comcast, DHL, FedEx, Frito-Lay, Ikea, Pepsi, and even Waste Management—are converting to electric fleets. Amazon plans to purchase 100,000 EV delivery vans.

Automakers are betting on EV viability. Every major vehicle manufacturer now offers multiple EV’s in their lines, and some of the world’s largest (such as Ford, GM, and Volkswagen) have committed to only offering EV’s by 2035. No one knows the markets better than them.

EV uses tech and infrastructure that are already available. Mass market gasoline engines are as efficient as they can be, and widespread fleet conversion to something like hydrogen, LP gas or fuel cells would require massive new infrastructure. Electrical infrastructure already crisscrosses the nation.

Texas is betting big. In oil-rich and culturally conservative Texas, the state Department of Transportation has just announced a plan to place charging stations every 50 miles along major state highways and interstates, then place them in rural areas throughout the state within five years. Each station will feature multiple stalls with high-power fast chargers.

Texans are making this choice in part because of funding in the infrastructure bill, but also because they expect the EV fleet in the state to grow from less than 130,000 to more than a million in that time. The Texas EV fleet has already tripled since 2020.

Your Partner

Could you use some advice on the what, why, and how of fleet conversions, EV adoption, and charging stations? We have experts on hand who are ready to help. Get in touch with Thayer Energy Solutions at 815-282-1112 today, and together we’ll find the best ways to profit from this revolution.