Many years ago, pulp comic book covers depicted a glorious future in which mankind had conquered the cosmos. In that world, the Sunday ads depicted the new model-year jet packs, and space travel was as common as a trip to the grocery store. Cystalline cities of concrete and glass were the perfect backdrop while arrowheaded rockets blasted to the firmament on columns of flame. The nuclear family zipped to and fro in flying vehicles to school, to work, to a much-needed interstellar vacation. It was a future of George and Jane Jetsons zip-tubing around the city, making sure little Elroy remembered his gravity boots and that the robot housekeeper was programmed to clean the windows, vacuum the floor, and feed the family pet.
The future didn’t turn out quite as we imagined. Cars don’t fly and we don’t zip-tube across the city, smoothing our hair as we leave the vacuum. Here’s what we do have—wireless technology (and robots that really do clean the floor). Smart devices remind us to get up, stay in our lanes, and brake when we fail to see the hazard in the road. The automotive future once imagined isn’t airborne, but it is evolving at a faster pace than anyone really predicted. The 2020s will be the decade that electric vehicles come to the forefront of automotive technology and industrial implementation as companies strive to achieve ambitious emissions goals and produce vehicles that can simply be charged in the garage—no different than plugging in your phone overnight for a fresh start tomorrow.
Last month we covered some of the fresh starts (and upgraded old standards) as the calendar flipped over another year. Before you know it, the 2020s will be gone, and the mainstays of today’s electric vehicles—the Teslas, the Rivians, the e-Transits and more—will be old news (or at least old data).
And then who knows what the 2030s will bring? So strap on your
moon boots smart watch and make sure your phone/car/outlook is charged. We’re going for a ride.
Here are some notes about what to expect in the following years from some of the largest global manufacturers.
BMW is playing its cards a little closer to the chest in terms of electrification. Despite the 2012 debut of the i3 BEV, BMW is letting the market stabilize a bit before committing massive amounts of immediate resources. The all-electric i4 sedan and iX have met with rave reviews, and the German automaker is more committed to ICE vehicles and PHEVs than many other OEMs. Nonetheless, the brand is confident in the debut of its newest electric offerings, and though it sees 50% of its sales volume by 2030 to be electric, it plans to unveil its “Neue Klasse” of next-gen battery, new-look EVs in 2025.
Similar to BMW, Daimler AG (owner of Mercedes-Benz) plans to go all-electric by the end of the decade, biding its time, investing in R&D, and ensuring its global infrastructure is ready for the switch to all-electric. Daimler recently approved a €60 billion electric investment plan through 2026 in preparation to go all-electric by 2030, and for now, Daimler is happy to produce eight electric vehicles at seven locations over three continents.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY
Ford plans to invest over $22 billion through 2025 to help lead North American electrification. Ford has four EV manufacturing plants in North America and has invested more than $700 million into its new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan. Ford is the only American OEM committed to reducing CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and is partnering with other automakers to help scale in niche markets, including a $500 million investment in Rivian. Ford also hopes to be a major contributor in battery and battery cell technology, including partnering with Solid Power, an industry leader in solid-state batteries for electric vehicles. When the Ford F-150 Lightning debuts this spring, it may
change the American pickup truck market.
General Motors plans to have 30 new electric vehicles on the global road by 2025. Thirty. In other words, there isn’t a fleet out there that won’t have some sort of electric option from GM.
Powering the future fleet is Ultium, the modular chassis platform GM developed specifically for its electric vehicles. The drive unit is also modular, enabling front-, rear-, and all-wheel-drive for all manner of vehicles, cargo, and terrain, and GM has partnered with multiple charging vendors to provide ample charging opportunities, and as a longtime North American leading manufacturer, much is expected of GM’s electric future.
Honda is not very concerned about electric vehicles. In October, the automaker revealed plans to introduce 10 EVs in the next five years in the Chinese market. It says its first “volume BEV” for the U.S. will be the Prologue in 2024. Honda maintains an all-electric sales goal by 2040.
Hyundai looks ahead almost 20 years to a carbon-neutral 2045 for all its models. Until then, the brand boasts the largest array of hybrid and electric vehicles, with a vast selection of hybrids from its legacy models.
On the purely electrical front, Hyundai makes gains in the U.S. with the Ioniq 5, Kona Electric, and Ioniq Electric, though they’re only available in a handful of states. Hyundai plans to invest $7.4 billion in the U.S. by 2025 to further its electric ambitions, and with the Ioniq 6 sedan on the horizon, well-received electric luxury marques in the Genesis line, and a large global market share of hybrid and electric vehicles, the South Korean automaker is well poised to scale up in the global electric circuit by mid-decade.
In January 2021, KIA Motors made two announcements: first, it would now go by KIA and debuted a new logo to reflect a more modern aesthetic (and electrical commitment); and second, that it planned to launch eleven dedicated EVs by 2026. With many soft hybrids available, true electrification has been a slower endeavor than many of its larger competitors. Still, the newest model—the KIA EV6 crossover—recently set an electrification record, traveling across the U.S. with the shortest charging time yet recorded for an EV, making New York City to Los Angeles in just over seven hours, beating the previous world record holder—Tesla—by more than five hours.
If KIA can continue to manufacture, distribute, and sell vehicles as well as it sets records, its future is bright.
Nissan also plans to carve out a large chunk of the electric pie, but not quite yet—while the Leaf and new Ariya spearhead the effort in North America, it won’t be until the end of the decade when Nissan starts rolling out a more robust electric fleet. In late 2021, Nissan announced a $17.6 billion electric investment over the next five years to galvanize its own rollout of Nissan-branded EVs. Nissan unveiled four sleek concept cars—the Surf-Out, Hang-Out, Chill-Out, and Max Out (a pickup truck, crossover, SUV, and convertible, respectively). Nissan is preparing to manufacture all solid-state batteries in a new plant in Yokohama, Japan, hoping the later rollout with the stronger and faster-charging solid-state batteries will meet a market with open arms. Time will tell, and you know the saying—“Time and [tech] wait for no [manufacturer.]”
Stellantis is a 14-headed hydra of historic North American and European brands and will not have the same sort of electric market share Ford and General Motors plan to in North America for this model year.
Stellantis, however, plans to. And they let everyone know it on EV Day 2021 in July as all 14 brands committed to offering best-in-class electrified vehicles in a €30 billion+ ($36 billion+) investment over the next five years. Stellantis announced it intends to become the market leader in low-emission vehicles (LEVs), targeting over 70% of sales in Europe and 40% in the U.S. to by 2030.
Gauntlet, thrown. During EV Day, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said the company plans to electrify 90% of its new models and feature over 50 electrified vehicles for sale in the U.S. and Europe by 2025, with a strong dedication to the Chinese market as well. The plan involves four platforms to support the entire lineup, including those under their commercial vans—a market where they intend to beat Ford with the Ram ProMaster. To help catalyze their modular platforms,
Stellantis plans to build five battery “gigafactories” and to produce a solid-state battery by 2026.
Will the newer monster in the market be able to succeed, even if it needs to cull some of its marques and brands? Only time will tell. That’s the thing about hydras—they’re unstoppable unless every head is severed, and as the Jeep and Ram brands continue to find larger global market shares, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Tesla’s gonna Tesla and has been Tesla-ing for several years now. With the largest charging infrastructure in the U.S. and an early market lead on high-quality EVs, the world’s most recognized electric car producer hopes to make further gains in this segment with its forthcoming CyberTruck, now delayed until 2023 due to the sheer volume of new technology and the risk of it costing too much. Nonetheless, Tesla saw a record $5.5 billion profit in 2021, fueled by Model 3
and Model Y sales, so though it may miss the early market on electric pickups, the brand continues to innovate and remains a highly profitable, highly visible electric option for fleet and family.
Like Nissan, Toyota’s electric blueprints continue to expand. In December, Toyota vowed to release 30 EVs by 2030 instead of 15 by 2025, trading time for quantity and quality. Toyota also committed to selling 3.5 million EVs by 2030 and to evolve Lexus into an EV-only marque by 2035. To do all this, it plans to spend over $17.6 billion in battery technology, and the juggernaut has the time, resources, and wherewithal to make good on its future promise. Though it lacks a long-range electric vehicle, Toyota’s CEO Akio Toyoda isn’t worried, and recently called the electric trend “overhyped” in lieu of a world long committed to gasoline.
Still, late 2021 saw a renewed commitment from Mr. Toyoda to reduce emissions. That effort will be led in the U.S. by the bZ4X compact SUV, expected to release midyear.
Volkswagen plans to hit the ground running in 2025 when it debuts its Scalable Systems Platform (SSP), upon which all electric vehicles will be built. VW Group is spending $945 million in R&D and a new facility in Germany as part of a larger $86 billion plan by 2025.
Investing in infrastructure first is key to the Group’s strategy as it plans to scale up its Electrify America offerings and build six battery plants across Europe by 2030, hoping to secure a firm foothold on the global BEV market with low-cost, easy-access battery supply and charging capabilities. Its ID brand of EVs will number seven once complete, including the Buzz Cargo commercial van.
Volvo has big plans. Per its website, Volvo is “the first major premium car brand to commit to a hybrid or full-electric powertrain” for all models. Every new model launched will have an electric motor, and Volvo estimates that by 2025, 50% of its sales volume will be fully electric and 1 million Volvo EVs will be on the road.
Recharge is the moniker all Volvo pure EVs will carry, led by the XC40 Recharge and more recently the C40 Recharge. Its performance brand, Polestar, has already made huge gains with the Polestar 2, with more breakthroughs to come.
“There will be no Volvo cars without an electric motor,” says the brand. Hard to misinterpret that.