The Future of the Car Industry Looks Electric

The future of the car industry is looking electric. The benefits of increasing investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure outweigh the costs by more than three to one, a new analysis by Ceres and M.J. Bradley & Associates has found. An infrastructure investment of $17.6 billion would yield $58 billion worth of benefits by 2035. After 2035, the annual net benefits will increase faster than charging infrastructure investments.

The analysis evaluated the need for electric vehicle charging infrastructure to accommodate plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) at 12 of the largest utility service territories in the U.S. It included service territories in seven states: California, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The service territories in those seven states represent about 42 million residential customers who have 80 million vehicles.

“The benefits of transportation electrification would be shared by electric vehicle owners, electric utility customers, and society at large,” said Dan Bakal, director of electric vehicles at Ceres.

Last year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) declared, “It’s looking like the 2020s will be the decade of the electric car.” BNEF also projected that by 2040 long-range EVs will cost less than $22,000 (in today’s dollars).

One car company really understands the benefits of electrification. That company is General Motors. The company’s executive vice president of Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, Mark Reuss, stated in a press release that “General Motors believes in an all-electric future.” He acknowledged that while that future will not happen overnight, the company is “committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles through no-compromise solutions that meet our customers' needs.”

GM recently announced that within the next 18 months it will introduce two new EVs. They will be the first of at least 20 new EVs the company will launch by 2023. Meeting the needs of its customers will require what GM calls a two-pronged approach to electrifying its vehicles. And that means developing battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. GM has introduced SURUS (the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure), a concept vehicle that is fuel cell powered on a heavy duty truck frame driven by two electric motors. SURUS could be used as an emissions free delivery vehicle, truck or ambulance.

GM’s announcement about the new EVs it will introduce makes good on what GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said during a press conference in Shanghai when she discussed the company’s road map for the future of personal mobility. The company’s goal is to address the challenges that come with growing urbanization, and it sees electrification as an important part of its strategy to reduce emissions and petroleum use while helping its customers save money.

GM’s belief in EVs as the future is nothing new. In 2016, GM introduced the Chevrolet Bolt in the US, an EV which achieves about 383 kilometers of range per charge. As Barra said, “Our modern-day leadership in electrification is not new. Our engineers have continually built upon our experience.”

Photo: General Motors