I have EV hunger.
My household reality features two internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles — aka cars — with well over 400,000 miles between them. I’m starting to pour oil into aging engines on a regular basis — and let’s not even get started on gas prices! So when I think about what comes next in transportation land, well, let’s just say I think electric vehicle (EV) tech is way cool!
As frequent readers know I’ve revisited the electric vehicle tech topic for the past decade or so, following its progress from golf-cart-like status to a performance that rivals any gasoline-fired engine.
My 2022 crystal ball reading even said that this is the year. Of course, I was thinking that 2022 represented the moment when the tech and the manufacturing of the tech merged in a glorious consumer splash, making EVs available at scale, but it turns out this might be the year consumer demand blossoms as well.
When I spotted a Car and Driver magazine headline a few days ago, I stopped in my tracks. In the first three months of 2022, overall new car registrations in the U.S. dropped 18%, but EV registrations sharply increased by 60%. Yes, numbers just out for the first quarter of 2022 reflect a boomlet, or maybe even a full-fledged boom in EV sales.
The EV tracking site InsideEVs.com reported that globally, people registered 851,489 new passenger plug-in electric cars in March 2022. Numbers doubled in February as well — and all of this despite global supply chain challenges. Tesla, several Chinese nameplates including a General Motors joint venture, BMW and Volkswagen led the parade. Hyundai, Chevy, Kia and Mercedes rounded out the top 10.
While my brain was on cars, I started reading driving blogs. It seems Norway features green road trips, winding through spectacular scenery, in plentiful rental EVs. The drive looks lovely; the cars look fun. Charging options abound. I surfed around some more and discovered that EV plus Norway travel seems like a thing in certain blog circles.
Zero emissions: Cape Air intends to buy 75 sleek electric commuter airplanes
I want to take a road trip in Norway, too!
In 2020, 54% of cars sold in the country were electric. In 2021, it reached 64%, according to the Norwegian Electrical Vehicle Association. Reportedly, the 2022 number is expected to top 85%. Political leadership targets zero emissions by 2025. Yes, the EV has become Norwegian drivers’ new normal.
Of course, that percent of EVs in Norway represents about a half-million vehicles — far, far fewer than the number of registered vehicles in the U.S. For perspective, U.S. EV registrations sit just below a 5% market share, but in raw numbers, the 2022 increase represents 3.5 million new cars — electric cars.
Marketing folks look at usage numbers and percentages as a way to gauge when, and if, a product or technology will reach widespread adoption. While timelines of curves vary, a pattern holds true. We see a flat slow growth until about one-third of the population uses the new tool, and then before you can blink your eye the chart line flies upward to everyone using it.
The elapsed time to adoption of technology has been steadily shrinking over the past century; consumers seem increasingly likely to try something new and increasingly willing to switch. Tablets, for example, rose from 0 to 50% use in about five years.
Globally, we’re seeing an accelerated uptake rate in EV use. According to the World Economic Forum, in 2012, the then-novel vehicles had global sales of about 130,000 units. Today, consumers buy that many in less than a week. Last year, in 2021, all net growth in global car sales came from electric vehicles.
Right now, we’re at an interesting intersection with this technology. The first wave of adaptors largely responded to the zero-emissions benefit. As design and performance grew, a new set of consumers wanted the sleekest Tesla on the block. As today’s energy prices soar (my senior Jeep consumed $143 in fuel last week!) folks motivated by cost-benefit start taking a look. In some countries, political policy supports and encourages the shift, adding one more element to the market mix.
Simultaneously — and driven in part by the afore-mentioned global demand — the U.S. market suddenly has more products to offer. In January 2021, you could pick from 19 different EV models (26, if you counted the various model variants). In 2022, more than 63 product launches have taken place or been announced.
The vehicles come in big and small, sedan and SUV, and pickup trucks. They look flashy, traditional, sleek, or weirdly futuristic. They blow the doors off the competition in 0-60 mph or they offer solid urban commute performance. In short, you can find pretty much something for every taste, just like, well, cars in general. Perhaps we’re getting to the new normal here, too.
Charging options have improved too. A few weeks ago, I noticed that my favorite fuel stop in Plymouth (which also makes pretty good sandwiches and coffee) now has Electrify America charging stations. Sharp eyes driving in greater Boston might notice chargers mounted on poles in parking lots and on streets. I parked near one at a public lot behind a Shaws in Melrose and experienced a surge of EV longing.
On the Cape, towns such as Eastham and Wellfleet offer chargers in town hall parking lots. Tesla has deployed its dedicated chargers widely, as part of its growth and competitive strategy. We aren’t fully there yet, but we will be.
I have to visit a gas station soon, the gauge hovers low. I’ll go out of my way to a station that pumps for me; I don’t like smelling of eau de fossil fuel all day! I added four quarts of oil to the older car last week. The ICE model and its exploding carbon technology feel dated and tired.
Is 2022 the year for EVs? The world seems to think so — and the next six months will tell the story.
Teresa Martin of Eastham lives, breathes and writes about the intersection of technology, business and humanity. You can reach her at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Cape Cod: US new Electric vehicle registrations exploded in Q1 2022