Electric vehicles are here to stay

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Policymakers and automakers have adopted ambitious goals for electrified vehicles (EVs) of 40-50% of new car sales by the end of the decade. But to achieve this, it is not enough to build excellent electric vehicles – and more than the automotive industry. Transformation requires a comprehensive approach that includes all sectors. Two recent events have underscored that the transition to electric vehicles is well underway.

First, sales of electric vehicles (all-electric and plug-in hybrids) nearly doubled in 2021, with EV sales steadily gaining market share, surpassing 4% for the first time. Second, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opened in Las Vegas with a slew of announcements of new electric vehicles from existing and new manufacturers, including electric pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles that were sold out even before the start of production. Virtually every automaker has announced sweeping electrification plans, with several setting ambitious targets of 100% zero-emission vehicles between 2035 and 2045.

To do this, auto industry to invest $330 billion in electrification by 2025. This is a dramatic transformation that will affect a large part of the American economy: the workforce, home builders, car manufacturers, suppliers, commercial builders, dealerships, utilities, the oil industry, battery manufacturers, public and private fleets, hydrogen suppliers and customers.

Let’s look at this from the consumer’s point of view. Those who own or have driven electric vehicles love them. Sure, they have zero tailpipe emissions and low running costs, but people are also excited about electric vehicles because they’re fun to drive.

Nevertheless, it is understandable that consumers still have questions: how much autonomy, where can it be recharged, how long does it take to recharge and how much will it cost?

The automotive industry, electric utilities and network operators, fleets, manufacturers, and federal and state policymakers are answering these questions. Personal transportation transformation requires a comprehensive, synchronized path forward and federal coordination.

Incentives vs mandates

There are limits to what government regulations or mandates can accomplish. Selling requirements placed on manufacturers don’t dictate what consumers buy, but we know that incentives can inspire consumers to take action. Incentives will become even more important if we are to expand access to electric vehicles by making them more affordable for a broad spectrum of the American public.

Infrastructure

We also know that refueling infrastructure is critical to the transition to electrification. The law on investment in infrastructure and employment signed by President BidenJoe BidenGallego on Jan. 6 Rioters: “F— them” Psaki: Why is the GOP afraid of presidential debates? Biden calls on employers to make vaccines mandatory despite Supreme Court ruling MORE at the end of last year includes $7.5 billion to fund electric vehicle infrastructure. This is a large down payment, but much larger government and private sector investments are needed to support 40-50% of purchases by 2030. For example, we need building codes that ensure charging equipment is installed in new homes, apartment complexes, and businesses during construction; otherwise, it may be five to seven times more expensive to upgrade them in the future. Beyond infrastructure, we need standard practices for pricing residential or public charging stations to deliver on the promise of “low operating cost”.

Supply Chain

At the same time, we will need continued private sector investment to support increased vehicle electrification. Electrification forces us to build new resilient supply chains that are very different from the current manufacturing footprint. At the Autos 2050 Summit late last year, the Energy Secretary Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmBiden’s administration to hire 1,000 workers for the ‘Clean Energy Corps’ Let’s be honest: 2021 hasn’t been so bad overnight ” MORE noted that the pandemic has exposed gaps and vulnerabilities in international supply chains for semiconductors, batteries and critical minerals. His department is work on ways for the United States to sustainably extract critical minerals, and to process them here, to satisfy domestic demand and to create potential export outlets.

Additionally, government agencies and private investors are funding significant research into new battery chemistries to increase capacity and reduce charge times. As Daniel Yergin, energy expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, has said, in the context of transport energy supply, we are moving from the world of molecules to electrons.

Let’s be clear about the challenges of conducting this transition. Governments around the world view the automotive industry as a strategic asset and pursue policies aimed at gaining competitive advantages in producing zero-emission transportation.

This shift to electric vehicles must benefit consumers and the workers who make them. The country’s power supply chain and grid must be stable and resilient. And all stakeholders must be involved to ensure that market and industry transformations keep pace with technological innovation and that the resulting environmental and economic benefits are widely distributed.

John Bozzella is the President and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents 99% of the automotive industry.

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