Electric vehicles are racing forward
If the Paris Motor Show is any indication, major automakers are quickly advancing the EV marketplace.
My recent visit to the 2016 Paris Motor Show provided compelling evidence of an emerging trend in the automobile industry — electric vehicles (EVs).
This theme was illustrated by the number of EVs unveiled as production models or concepts, by the incredible advancements in range on a single charge (automakers proudly advertised the range of their EVs on the side doors of their vehicles), and by the amount of press coverage those vehicles generated.
Opel introduced its Ampera-e all-electric compact car; Renault introduced its Zoe ZE 40; Mercedes-Benz introduced its Generation EQ, an all-wheel drive, all-electric SUV; and Volkswagen unveiled a concept car, the I.D. hatchback. All of these impressive new EVs boast ranges in the neighbourhood of 400 to 600 kilometres per single charge.
Interestingly, it has even become fashionable to show off EV technology if you don’t have a production or concept vehicle to display. Jaguar didn’t have an EV at the show, but it did display its sleek Formula-E racing car, the Jaguar I-Type. Formula E is a new form of auto racing where only electric-powered cars are allowed to compete.
Although companies like Tesla, Nissan and General Motors have stolen the spotlight in EV development and production in recent years, the Paris Motor Show revealed that other major automakers have not been asleep at the wheel in this area.
In fact, Ford, Toyota, Volvo, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Honda, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover are all aggressively exploring EV technology and doubling down on their efforts to produce viable EVs in the hope of capturing a share of this burgeoning market.
Major technology companies, too, (Apple, Microsoft, and Google) have aligned themselves with automakers in an attempt to strengthen their brands and influence consumers.
I have no doubt that the EVs unveiled in Paris (and soon-to-be unveiled elsewhere) will be game changers in the evolution of EV technology and lead to wider acceptance among the general car-buying population. The market appears to be heading in that direction.
Despite the success of the Tesla Roadster, the Nissan Leaf (currently the world’s all-time, bestselling, all-electric car) and the excitement surrounding the unveiling of the Chevrolet Bolt, EVs have operated on the fringe of the automotive market. There are currently only about a dozen all-electric vehicles on the market.
In Canada, there are just over 20,000 plug-in hybrid and battery-powered electric vehicles on our roads. To put that into perspective, in 2015, 1.898 million new vehicles were sold in Canada, so EVs have a long way to go to catch up.
There has been investment from the private sector and various levels of government to accommodate this growing segment, and for good reason. According to Natural Resources Canada, “The market for EVs in Canada is growing as Canadians look for cleaner, more efficient vehicles. Research confirms that consumers in North America are willing to pay more for an EV if the environmental benefits are significant.”
We may be years away from mass acceptance of EVs in Canada and the U.S. Range anxiety and the availability of charging stations are still unresolved issues in the minds of many consumers. But progress is being made.
One place where car owners and enthusiasts can learn about the latest news in EV technology and view the latest models is at the 2017 Canadian International AutoShow ((Feb. 17-26, 2017).). The popularity of EVs at the Paris Motor Show is certain to carry over to the CIAS.
For more information about the 2017 CIAS, visit autoshow.ca. Show organizers will be updating content regularly. Plan to buy your tickets early and set a date to attend Canada’s largest consumer show.