The legacy Detroit auto industry, the UAW, and the Biden administration reached an agreement at the infamous EV summit at the White House in August 2021. They would work towards what they think is an ambitious goal — 50% BEV market share by 2030.
The plans to reach that goal are being made. Congress is authorizing the government spending, the Detroit Shrinking Three are publishing their plans for battery factories, announcing new fully electric platforms and models, and retrofitting their factories.
The mainstream media are applauding and wondering if it is not too ambitious. They listen in awe to the self-appointed leader of the global EV transition, GM CEO Marry Barra: “In 2030, a 50% BEV market share.” How stupid do they think Americans are?
The American auto buyer knows what he/she wants. When gas prices were very high in the ’70s, small and efficient foreign cars were acceptable. But when they can afford it, the big, real American SUVs and pickups are bought. They are willing to spend money on their wheels, often more than on their houses.
These smart people in government and industry did not ask themselves why half of car buyers would choose tailpipe vehicles while the other half would buy vehicles without a tailpipe. This is not politics, where the people are not really interested and can be led by the nose by simple slogans. When buying an automobile, they know what they are doing. In 2030, both options are well understood.
Intermezzo — Explanation of what is changing this decade
If you are a regular CleanTechnica reader, you already know why, so skip to continuation of rant.
Battery prices decline by half every 5 years. With all the new research, it is more likely to be more than less this decade. Battery density has doubled every 14 years, but with the new types of batteries coming to market, it is likely we will see a doubling in 10 years or even less.
Translate these numbers into product development. Compared to 2020, we can see a battery with the same size and weight, with double the range for half the price, in 2030. Or a battery with the same range that costs only a quarter as much and weights half of current batteries.
A battery electric vehicle is simpler to make, with fewer parts and fewer auto workers than a comparable gas vehicle. Current costs are high because the series are small, and the technology is new. With more experience and larger production volumes, prices will drop. The next-generation Renault Zoe (aka Renault R5) is expected to be 40% cheaper in 2024.
Other carmakers will see the same improvements in production and design. Years before 2030, the fully electric versions of all types of cars and trucks will become both cheaper and better than their competing versions with a tailpipe.
End-Intermezzo — Continuation of Rant
It is not like in the previous decade, when only green, rich, coastal lefties where willing to buy those newfangled contraptions. Now everybody knows the benefits and drawbacks of the different choices. All the arguments pro and contra are discussed ad infinitum over beer and at dinner.
Again, it is not political or abstract economics. This is their own driving experience and their own wallet. Things they care and know everything about. In 2030, one choice is far superior to the other, offering a better driving experience and lower costs at the same time. Why should half of the American car buyers waste their money on an inferior product? (Spoiler alert: They won’t!)
Do they think they are so loyal to Detroit that they will buy a product that is ready for the scrapyard before it is even out of warranty? Because it will be so outdated that it is unusable? If Detroit can not get its house in order and its factories converted to production of pure battery electric vehicles, Americans will buy imports, like they did with the Japanese econoboxes in the 1970s or high-quality luxury sedans in recent decades.
When the differences are well understood, and one powertrain is much better than the alternative, the market will choose the better offering. It will not be 50%. Demand will be close to 100% for the superior new technology.
The biggest problem will be the used car market, not the new car market. It is bigger than the new car market, and it depends on the new car sales from 5–15 years earlier. The hunger in the used car market for BEVs will be as big as in the new car market — with nowhere to get the supply from.
Solving that riddle, and building the infrastructure need — those are the ambitious goals they should pursue.
In 2030, the US auto market will have an approximately 100% BEV market share. The market can be 50% of the current market size, without enough production capacity and with no imports, but it won’t be 50% gasmobiles.
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