Have cars with electric motors caught your eye, but you’ve rejected them so far? There are some developments, both recent and on the horizon, that might change your mind.
The most recent: Volvo announced recently it would use nothing but electric or hybrid engines in its new models starting in 2019. They will be phased out of existing models by 2024. Helping drive the change are two developments: improvements and cost reductions in the big lithium-ion batteries that power the vehicles, and the scaling up of mass production.
The Volvo announcement is only one of several recent developments on the electric car front. Others include:
- Tesla is expected to begin production this month of its first Model 3, which is its lower-cost all-electric vehicle. After delivering about 47,000 vehicles in the first half of this year, the company says it plans to ramp up production and build a half-million vehicles in 2018.
- Cheaper batteries will help make electric vehicles as affordable as fossil fuel-powered cars within eight years, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Colin McKerracher, BNEF's lead advanced-transportation analyst, called the development “pure and simple economics.” “Lithium-ion battery prices are going to come down sooner and faster than most other people expect,” he said.
- Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, has broken ground on a new factory to build batteries for electric cars. Mercedes plans to launch at least 10 electric cars before the end of 2022.
Not all of the cost news is positive. For example, 17 states now charge fees to electric car buyers as a replacement for the gasoline tax that typically funds road maintenance. And other tax incentives are being phased out. But the distance the cars can travel between charges keeps expanding, and Bloomberg estimates plug-in electric cars will make up one-third of the global auto fleet by 2040.