Major automotive manufacturers are devoting billions of dollars to EV development, and some are making big promises for our electric car future.
This past week has been an enormous week in the electric car world. General Motors announced plans for an “all-electric future” by introducing at least 20 new all-electric models by 2023. Carlos Ghosn, chairman of Nissan, unveiled plans to launch 12 new electric vehicles in the next 5 years. These announcements come on the heels of other manufacturers such as BMW, Toyota, and Mazda committing resources toward EV development. Those that aren’t fully jumping on the band wagon are leaving pure combustion behind and hybridizing their platforms. Land Rover is getting in the game with a PHEV version of the Range Rover. Even Aston Martin – architects of some of the most charismatic engines ever – will go all hybrid by the mid-2020s. When the most stalwart champions of internal combustion are electrifying, you know we’re on the edge of a revolution.
With the recent, major shifts in resources and ambitions, electric cars will continually improve. While this doesn’t signal the death of the internal combustion engine just yet, it is worthwhile to keep tabs on where automakers are heading. Below is a compilation of major manufacturer’s announcements committing to electrification, and what that will mean for their brands and the whole industry. As a disclaimer, this news roundup only involves companies that are moving too electric vehicles. Companies that only produce electric cars – like Tesla – are not included here.
Scroll down to see the latest news in electric car development from the major manufacturers, or click one of the links below to jump to a specific manufacturer.
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BMW’s current electrification strategy involves introducing at least a dozen new fully-electric cars by 2025. The first steps in that plan include introducing an i8 Roadster in 2018, an all-electric Mini in 2019, and an electric X3 in 2020. By the middle of the next decade, BMW Group plans for electric cars to total 15-25% of the brand’s sales. Chief Executive Harald Kruger spoke of intentions to electrify vehicles across all brands and model series, including BMW’s M-division and Rolls-Royce.
There’s been some major shakeups at Ford in the past few months. Earlier this year, the board of directors ditched CEO Mark Fields in favor of Jim Hackett, who served as chairman of Ford Smart Mobility prior. Hackett has been trusted to help Ford transition move toward a culture that can react more quickly to market demands. On the heels of GM’s announcement of its electric car strategy, Ford is also revamping its EV portfolio by investing $4.5 billion into developing technology. It also plans to cut spending on internal combustion engines by about a third to free up capital, a move that Hackett feels is necessary to move the company in step with evolving EV demand.
Last week, GM made some major waves in the automotive sector by laying out its plan to zero emissions. “General Motors believes in an all-electric future”, says Vice President of Product Development Mark Reuss. In pursuit of that goal, GM will introduce two Bolt-based electric cars in the next 18 months. They will be the first of – get this – at least 20 new all-electric vehicles that will launch by 2023. An ambitious goal, and a crucial component of CEO Mary Barra’s plan for a “world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion”.
At Daimler’s investor day, chief executive Dieter Zetsche mentioned that Mercedes will offer electric versions of all its cars by 2022. Part of that goal involves bringing the striking SUV pictured above – the EQ Concept – to life. The company will also turn the Smart brand into an all-electric line by 2020. That will certainly solve the immediate demand issue for EVs in cities, as Mercedes looks to reinforce the rest of its lineup. In the U.S., Mercedes is investing $1 billion and creating 600 jobs in its Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant to produce electric vehicles.
As with BMW, Nissan has a bit of a jump on the rest of the pack when it comes to electric cars. Its venerable Leaf has been in production since 2010. While not nearly as popular as the all-dominating Tesla, it still was a good electric proposition in its own right. Next year, the updated Leaf (pictured above) gets a long-overdue revamp, including more range – up to 150 miles. Going further, the alliance consisting of Nissan, French automaker Renault, and Mitsubishi laid out strategy “Alliance 2022”. As part of that plan, the group will release 12 new battery-electric models globally, utilizing “common platforms and components”.
Toyota’s venture into hybrid technology with its Prius line kick-started a revolution that is still running strong. However, its pure-electric vehicles – namely the RAV4 EV and the funky-looking Mirai fuel-cell vehicle, haven’t made the same waves. That may be about to change, as Toyota is partnering up with Mazda and Denso, Toyota’s biggest supplier, to develop EVs. Toyota will have a 90 percent stake in the venture, as Mazda and Denso take 5 percent each, mainly contributing R&D resources to the effort. As policy makers in key markets like China – right on Japan’s doorstep – push for electric vehicles in the coming decades, this partnership is key.
Ah, Volvo. They grabbed headlines a few months ago by stating that “every Volvo it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor, marking the end of cars that only have an internal combustion engine…” Some saw this as a complete end to Volvo’s fossil-fuel burning days, however that isn’t entirely the case. Note the word only in that statement. Rather than going all out toward EVs, they’re placing emphasis on hybrids at this point. It will launch 5 all-electric cars between 2019 and 2021, including two from Polestar, Volvo’s high-performance arm. The Swedes are playing a rather more conservative game, aiming for 1 million electrified (note, not “purely electric”) cars by 2025.
If there’s one manufacturer here who really has no choice but to go electric, it’s Volkswagen. You can argue – and many would likely agree – that VW Group got this latest electric ball rolling with the Dieselgate scandal. They’ve suffered huge setbacks as the fines continue to mount, and CEO Matthias Müller is attempting to stem the flow. Per his plan, VW will build 2 to 3 million electric cars annually and unveil 30 EV models by 2025. We won’t see any of these new models for a few more years, but its by far the most ambitious electrification plan out there.