The beginning of the end of the internal combustion engine?
Every time I report on growing electric car sales, I do so with a major caveat: This sales growth is being achieved despite a limited selection of vehicles, all of which command either a significant price premium and/or are restricted by a relatively limited range.
But that's going to change, as demonstrated by this news over at The Guardian: All new Volvo models will be either fully electric, plug-in hybrid, or hybrid by 2019. The move comes in part because of a shift in attitude from company CEO, Hokan Samuelsson, who was skeptical about pure electrics just a few years ago. Here's how The Guardian reports his comments at a press conference on Stockholm:
“I think things have changed, and you can change your mind as well. We were sceptic[al] about the cost level of batteries and the lack of infrastructure to charge all-electric cars. Things have moved faster. Customer demand is increasing. Battery costs have come down. There is also movement now on the charging infrastructure.”
Speaking of charging infrastructure, Cleantechnica is reporting that Nissan is ramping up plans for superfast charging as it prepares to reveal the 2018 Leaf, a car which should boast both significantly increased range and (hopefully!) much faster charging.
So yes, electric car sales are a tiny fraction of the overall market. But sales of gigantic, brick-shaped cell phones were once a fraction of the sales of landline phones, too. As soon as attractive, affordable phones came on the market with accessible plans, they quickly outcompeted their tethered-to-the-wall ancestors.
As someone who recently completed my first road trip on a plug-in hybrid minivan, friends and acquaintances ask all the time about our experiences with the car. There is a very real, pent-up demand out there for realistic, long-range options for fuel efficient transportation. Once supply becomes available, I strongly suspect that the floodgates will open.
Volvo has seen the future coming. I wonder which automaker will be next.