Khodrocar - One thing has changed from last year, however: the industry has realized that it has been left behind in the electric car race, and is set to spend up to $90 billion, according to Reuters, to catch up. Ford has announced an $11 billion investment to include 16 fully electric models and 24 plug-in hybrids as part of its range within five years, with the first arriving in 2020.
Bill Ford's efforts are a reaction to Mary Barra’s moves at GM, which last October unveiled two electric models as part of an initiative that will lead to 20 fully electric models before 2023, running on batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. A few days ago GM announced a completely autonomous model without pedals or steering wheel. Nevertheless, the car companies are still talking up their ambitious visions and the need to reconquer the streets, but have set no deadlines, effectively reducing their claims to the level of science fiction.
US auto manufacturers have finally realized that they will need to have significant numbers of electrically powered models if they want to sell cars in China, the largest market in the world: brands aiming to export more than 30,000 vehicles a year to China will have to meet stringent rules, requiring at least 10% of them to be electric, plug-in hybrids or hydrogen cell by 2019, a percentage that will rise to 12% by 2020. In the wake of dieselgate, Volkswagen, which already has a strong presence in China, is doubling its investment in electric technology to $40 billion.
A year on, the automotive industry’s leading players are trying to give the impression they are abreast of the latest technology - even Ferrari aims to launch an electric model in a bid to show it can match Tesla - but they continue to use the same old tricks: plug-in hybrids to try to win over customers to vehicles that in many cases are more polluting than their petrol or diesel equivalents, while their deadlines to stop making internal combustion engines stretch ahead decades to prolong the technology that deep down they just can’t turn away from.
The problem here is that the industry is simply reacting, responding to restrictions imposed by governments around the world. A genuine conversion has to be the result of change of mindset, the realization that fossil fuel vehicles are destroying the planet, and based on all the evidence, they should be banned right now. In short, the automobile industry is being dragged screaming and kicking into change. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: at this rate, big auto will go down in history the same way as big tobacco.