No that’s not a typo in the headline! 2014 is in the history books and by all accounts, has been a fantastic year for electric vehicles – smashing the 100,000 annual unit sales mark in November! More new EV models have launched in 2014 than in the prior 3 years combined and many new/upgraded EVs are coming in 2015 and beyond.
So when we look back at 2015, here’s what I believe the top stories will read nationally and right here in Georgia:
1). Electrified Vehicles Reach the 1% of vehicles sold nationally in 2015. EVs should easily reach this mark on a total industry sales of 16.5-17.0 million yielding 165-170,000 electrified vehicles added to US roads in 2015. Many states have added electric vehicle or charging station incentives or both. With expanded charging infrastructure and high satisfaction rates among EV owners, the rate of sales growth should propel EVs close to 1% of all vehicles sold.
2). Nissan LEAF approaches the 200,000 Federal Tax Credit phase out. What Now? Arguably, Nissan has done the best job marketing their all electric LEAF which launched in the US in 2011. By the end of 2015, cumulative LEAF sales will be close to 170,000, just 30,000 units shy of the Federal Tax Credit phase out requirements. With an all new vehicle slated to launch in the 2017 Model Year (on sale as early as January 2016), how will Nissan market the all new LEAF without its $7,500 tax credit? Stay tuned – Carlos Ghon has a plan!
3). Tesla FINALLY launches the Model X – Falcon Wing Doors and All. Look for a Merry Christmas 2015 post on the Tesla blog from Elon Musk announcing the first deliveries of the 2015 Model X – it’s still 2015 and Elon has ‘kept his promise.’ Seriously, the Model X will be another game changer in the high end 6-7 passenger SUV market and will begin to impact Tesla sales in 2016, attacting new buyers to the marque. Of course, it won’t hurt sales of the Model S, since the majority of its owners have already traded up to the Model D – satiating their need to have the latest Tesla gadget. Savvy used car buyers will snap up the discarded Model S 1.0 offerings at reasonable ($50,000 – 60,000) prices knowing that Elon has promised a battery upgrade in the future and the software upgrades continue.
4). Chevrolet VOLT 2.0: a lower cost VOLT 1.0? Let’s face it, without Bob Lutz there would not have been VOLT 1.0. And without former GM CEO Dan Akerson pushing to get $10,000 of cost out of the VOLT, there would not be a 2.0. GM is working hard to ‘tease’ us with it’s mini reveals. But look at the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze and you get an idea of what the 2016 VOLT is going to look like: compact. Range may improve modestly (45-50 electric miles) but this vehicle will not be a game changer; it’s likely the vehicle that should have launched in 2011: $29,995 base price, useable gauges, 3 person “Cruze Sized” rear seat.‘ I hope there are more substantial surprises when the VOLT 2.0 is unveiled at the NAIAS the week of January 12, 2015: like using more than 60% of the 17.1kWh battery!
5). Georgia’s ZEV Tax Credit takes center stage. With Georgia and metro Atlanta garnering a lot of headlines in 2014 as the fastest growing EV market in the US, the handling of the current ZEV/LEV tax credit (currently $5,000/$2,500 with no sunset) will become a national story. How this one ends up is anyone’s guess. But one thing’s for sure: Nissan will have the best sales month ever in December 2014 for the LEAF given the metro Atlanta dealers are selling/leasing against the fear that the $5,000 ZEV tax credit will disappear in 2015 so get your LEAF now!
Let’s just hope that everyone can agree on the core issue: air quality in metro Atlanta/Georgia needs more EVs on our roads to help get annual CO2 emissions well below the 150 million metric tons emitted in Georgia!
6). “PV2EV” begins to have it’s day in the sun. Wouldn’t it just be smart to tie EV charging to its own renewable power generation? For years, separate and uncoordinated incentives (and arguably disincentives) between solar power and electric vehicle charging station infrastructure has kept these two technologies apart. 2015 might be the year when enough solar powered charging stations are built to move the needle in the direction toward a sustainable PV2EV deployment. With solar power costs falling and the cost to retrofit parking lots and garages with EV charging stations expensive, the time has come for PV2EV to have it’s day in the sun!
7). Georgia Becomes A Leader in Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure. Between the push by NRG into the metro Atlanta market from it’s home base in Houston TX, and the announcement by Georgia Power to construct it’s own charging islands (both firms offering DC Fast Charge and 240 V Level 2) Georgia and more specifically metro Atlanta, will become a model for the deployment of fast and convenient EV charging. By the end of 2015, metro Atlanta will have at least 50 charging islands including installations in Athens and other outlying cities. Added to that are the public charging stations funded by GEFA that will improve EV charging station availability in the Atlanta suburbs.
It will be fun to see how 2015 unfolds for electric vehicles and the supporting infrastructure. We’ll come back and revisit these ‘headlines’ and see where we hit and where we missed. Your comments and your own headlines are welcome.
Thanks for your readership in 2014!