It was the year that electric cars took off

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It may finally take place. For many years, technologists have been promising that the age of electric vehicles will come. After false starts in the early 20th century (when electrics briefly made up a third of cars in the US), the 1970s (thanks to the gas crisis), and the early 2000s (when two American engineers founded a company called Tesla Motors), electric vehicles are going mainstream. .

Data from research firm BloombergNEF shows that the world hit an annual record of 7.1 million passenger electric vehicle sales in mid-2022. The firm is forecasting sales of 10.6 million by the end of the year, even as pressure on the auto supply chain continues to make things difficult. to get an electrician in dealer lots.

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In the first half of 2022, 13 percent of global passenger car sales were electric, plug-in hybrid or fuel cell vehicles, according to BloombergNEF data. However, growth is uneven, with Germany (26%), the UK (24%) and China (23%) leading the way. Only 7 percent of passenger cars sold in the US in the first half of the year were zero-emissions.

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What’s happening right? First, the government’s efforts to combat climate change through progressive transport policies seem to be bearing fruit. From 2020, Germany is offering car buyers up to €9,000 in incentives if they decide to switch to electricity. This scheme worked so well that the government reduce the payment in 2023. China has been actively investing in the domestic electric vehicle industry for almost a decade. And the U.S. government has enacted a slew of new programs this year that not only expand incentives to buy cars, but also aim to support a more American electric vehicle supply chain, from car assembly to mining the rare minerals that go into electric cars. batteries.

Automakers have also ramped up production of all kinds of electronics. After years of limited electric options, more people can now find an electric vehicle to suit their needs, whether you’re a single girl heading out for the weekend or a busy parent with a couple of kids and accessories. A diverse menu of new all-electric SUVs has been released in the US, including the Tesla Model Y and VW ID.4, trucks including the Ford F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T, and fast sports cars including the Porsche Taycan and Ford Mustang Mah-E. Europeans opted for smaller hatchbacks, including the electric Fiat 500 and Peugeot e-208, and even courted by Chinese automakers who worked to meet high European safety standards.

There is reason to believe that the surge in electric vehicles may continue. By the end of this decade, the world’s leading automakers have pledged to spend an astronomical $1.2 trillion to produce 54 million electric vehicles. Reuters analysis. Governments have pledged to spend billions on charging infrastructure. Battery manufacturers have pledged billions of dollars to start factories.

All of this is good news for governments that have set themselves ambitious targets to phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035. European Union and the US states of California, New York and Washington have formalized their plans to do so this year. But while sales of electric vehicles are now on the rise, there are many things that could slow down the electric revolution.

First, electric vehicle chargers are not widespread enough. Governments and the private sector need to create a global network of electric vehicle chargers that can serve not only cars, but also van and truck fleets, and their ubiquity can compete with gas stations. Secondly, the world’s reserves of battery minerals – lithium, nickel, cobalt and even graphite – are limited, and extracting them from underground is a dirty job. Was 2022 a turning point in the electricity industry? This is a question that can only be answered in hindsight.

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