EV Manufacturers on the Verge of Market Saturation
Jan. 12, 2021—One of the biggest takeaways from this year’s Consumer Electronics show was that automakers, and tech companies wanting to get in on the trend, are betting the house on electric vehicles.
Though it will take another 10 years before EVs make up more than 50 percent of new car sales according to projections from LMC Automotive, the process of ramping up to that point has already started.
A recently compiled list by MotorTrend shows at least 35 automakers are making electric vehicles, including everything from “mainstream” OEMs such as Ford and General Motors to EV-specific companies such as Tesla and Rivian.
That, however, doesn’t include the tech companies that don’t normally produce vehicles that are now jumping on the EV craze; companies such as Foxconn, which manufactures Apple’s iPhone, and Sony have unveiled prototype EVs and are looking into the feasibility of commercial launches.
“Technology driven by purpose will change the world,” General Motors Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl said in a statement. “We are witnessing what’s possible when innovators and problem solvers embrace the opportunity to change the world, knowing they have the tools and technology to do precisely that. With that capability comes the responsibility to use it.”
EVs have come a long way in the last couple of years, and though they only accounted for around 3 percent of the total new car market in 2021, EVs are poised to make a serious push toward mainstream viability. For solid evidence of that, you don’t have to look very hard; within the next couple of years, each of the Detroit Three will have a mid-range, full-sized electric pickup on the market.
The first will be the F-150 Lightning, which Ford will begin delivering in just a few months. Touted by the automaker as a “purpose-built, must-have truck for serious work and recreation” and tasked with carrying on its “Built Ford Tough” legacy, the F-150 Lightning has already proven that EV pickups are viable in today’s market.
At the beginning of January, Ford announced it would once again double production of the pickup to 150,000 units per year after revealing it had already received 200,000 reservations for new vehicles. The automaker said in September it would invest an additional $250 million across three facilities that have a part in building the Lightning in order to expand production capacity.
General Motors headlined its show at CES with the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV. Set to have two models available when it launches in early 2023, the full-size EV pickup "was developed from the ground up and leverages the power of GM's Ultium Platform." Both an RST First Edition and work model geared more toward fleets will offer a GM-estimated 400-mile range on a single charge, a load floor of up to 10 feet, available four-wheel steering, a 17-inch LCD infotainment screen and "the latest vehicle technologies that can evolve over time."
The Silverado EV will also be the company's first vehicle to make use of Ultifi, GM's companion software platform to Ultium and will start at just under $40,000, which will compete directly with the F-150 Lightning.
Although it won’t bring an EV pickup to market for another couple of years, Stellantis has reassured its customers their fully electric Ram is still right on schedule to launch in 2024.
Even outside of traditional automakers, the chase for the next big EV craze is enticing new players into the electrified automotive space.
Tech giant Sony debuted a new prototype electric SUV at the Consumer Electronics Show and announced plans to look into the feasibility of entering the global EV market.
Already in testing since late 2020, the Vision-S is an electric midsize crossover, according to a news release. At CES, Sony unveiled a new form factor, Vision-S 02, which would seat seven and "uses the same EV/cloud platform" as Vision-S 01, which is still being tested on public roads.
"VISION-S continues its aim of evolving mobility to be even closer to people, while developing technologies centered on safety and security, adaptability, and entertainment," Sony said in the release. "By offering entertainment experiences utilizing the large interior space and variations of a 7-seater, this new prototype will, together with VISION-S 01, promote the accommodation of a large variety of lifestyles within a society where values are becoming increasingly diversified."
In a report from Reuters, Sony chairman and president Kenichiro Yoshida said his company is "exploring a commercial launch" of electric vehicles.
"With our imaging and sensing, cloud, 5G and entertainment technologies combined with our contents mastery, we believe Sony is well positioned as a creative entertainment company to redefine mobility," Yoshida said.
To put it lightly, interest in producing EVs exploded in 2021. Seemingly everyone, regardless of whether or not they are primarily automotive manufacturers, wants to create the next big innovation in electrification.
ICEs aren’t going extinct anytime soon, but it won’t be too long until their unchallenged market domination faces a major opponent.