Are we there yet? No, but we’re definitely on the road. After decades of doubt, the world’s automakers have made up their minds about electric vehicles. The car world was rocked in January by General Motors Co.’s pledge to stop selling gas-burning vehicles by 2035, and industrywide EV investment plans now top $330 billion through 2025, according to AlixPartners, a consultancy. With governments wielding carrots for consumers and sticks for producers, EVs jumped to 11% of new car sales in Europe in 2020 and reached nearly 15% in the first quarter of 2021; in the same period, EV sales in China went from 4.8% to 8%. But there are big obstacles to the breakneck transition scientists say is needed to limit climate change, including plain old inertia. When it comes to cars, said Gina McCarthy, President Joe Biden’s top climate adviser, lots of people “just want ’em to be what they used to be.”
According to projections by BloombergNEF, falling battery prices mean that larger electric cars will reach price parity with their fossil-fuel counterparts in the U.S. and Europe in 2022, with parity reached in most other segments and regions by the end of the decade. Improvements in battery technology are set to boost potential driving ranges. More importantly, a global rollout of public fast-charging points should dissipate concerns about being stuck for hours. Analysts predict that EVs will prove more reliable, since they have many fewer parts.