Almost every major automaker has declared that they are “all in” when it comes to electric vehicles. They are now engaged in a game of one-upmanship, each making headline grabbing statements about their planned double-digit-billion-dollar electric vehicle research and development investments and intentions to introduce electric options for a significant percentage of their fleets.
These investment plans, which total over $90 billon, signal that OEMs are taking electric vehicles seriously and point to a (more) electric future. However, they are largely lacking clear investment timelines and product portfolio road maps.
Ford, for example, has recently committed to investing $11bn in electric vehicle technology to launch 40 electrified vehicles by 2022. While there is no doubt this is a significant investment, it is important to take this in context (assuming this is additive to Ford’s typical R&D budget this represents ~25% of total R&D spend, certainly significant, but maybe not really “all in”…). Additionally, and potentially more significantly, it is worth noting that Ford hasn’t announced any specific electric vehicles that will be part of this 40-vehicle portfolio. This raises the questions of when these vehicles will start coming to market and, more generally, how firm of a commitment is this?
Commercial vehicles are coming (and many are already here)
While passenger vehicle manufacturers have been scrambling to define their electric vehicle strategy and make headline grabbing announcements, commercial vehicle manufactures have less visibly slowly revealed not just long-term strategies, but specific products and target launch dates. These products range from commercial passenger and panel vans from Chanje to Class 8 trucks from Tesla and everything in between from major OEMs including Daimler, New Flyer, BYD, and Cummins, to name a few.
Despite the lack of flashy headlines, the increasing availability of mass produced electric commercial vehicles, combined with the clear total cost of ownership advantage (see blog post: “Electric vehicle fleets’ 25% total cost of ownership advantage – Today) will drive near term growth of commercial electric vehicle sales.