Trucks Will Need to Be Part of Electrification Plans for Detroit
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Detroit's automakers have a major challenge in achieving their stated environmental goals: their customers. While there is growing popularity for EVs, gas-powered full-size SUVs and trucks remain incredibly popular.
These larger vehicles also tend to be more profitable for Detroit's big three, according to Reuters. Making larger vehicles while lowering overall emissions will be a challenge in the coming decade for these car companies.
Is it possible to make trucks and SUVs electric by 2030?
The big three automakers (Ford, GM, Stellantis) made an ambitious joint statement this August. They declared that they share President Biden's aspiration that 40%-50% of all new cars be electric by 2030, as reported by Reuters.
However, their production models don't match their joint statement. Under current production plans, only 15% of new cars will be electric by 2028, with an additional 3.4% that are hybrids. In 2028, gas-powered SUVs and trucks will still outnumber EVs by a wide margin.
Based on those numbers, the Detroit automakers will have to double EV production to meet Biden's goal by 2030. Such a monumental change in car manufacturing seems unrealistic.
However, Ford is more determined to meet Biden's EV goal. In a statement to Reuters, a Ford spokesperson declared, "...Ford expects battery-electric vehicles to be at least 40% of our global volume by 2030. That's not an aspiration - it's what we're anticipating."
The challenge with large vehicles
Larger vehicles are simply too popular and profitable to be abandoned by the big three. But there is a silver lining to this fact. Much of the research and development costs that have gone into EVs were paid for by the profits from large gas guzzlers.
In a report from Forbes, battery-powered, full-size SUVs are coming soon. However, very few of these green SUVs will be coming from Detroit.
There are two expensive exceptions: the Cadillac LYRIQ which will start at almost $60,000 and the GMC Hummer EV SUV which will start at just over $105,000. At these prices, it's hard to imagine they will be accessible to most American families.
Especially when compared to the Mazda MX-30, which starts at around $35,000.
Ford and Chevy already have two mid-size electric SUVs in their lineup. Both are very new, and it is unclear if these are big enough to satisfy America's love for large cars.
Electric vehicles remain a niche
The reality for most American carmakers, with Tesla being an exception, is that EVs are a very niche product in their overall lineup. Trucks and SUVs are far more popular, and customers are willing to pay a premium for these big cars.
This year, about 3.3 million pickups and SUVs will be made for the North American market; virtually none of which will be electric. That number is expected to be 3.75 million in 2028, and only a fraction of those will be electric.
If Detroit wants to be competitive in the large electric vehicle market, bigger changes need to be made sooner.
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