DETROIT -- Automakers have seen the future, and it's electric.
While some of them have a history with electric vehicles (EV) and technology, they are responding to a growing list of countries that are planning bans on fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, as well as competitive pressures from Tesla as it continues the rollout of its mass-market Model 3.
Norway has a goal of selling only EVs by 2025, while India wants to transition to an all-EV fleet by 2030. In July, France and Great Britain announced they would ban sales of gasoline- and diesel-owned vehicles by 2040. In September, news came that China, the largest vehicle market in the world, was planning a ban on new fossil-fuel-powered vehicles by 2040 or earlier, Reuters reported. And now California, the largest vehicle market in the United States, is also weighing a ban on fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, inspired by China’s plans, Bloomberg reported.
In response, major automakers are announcing pledges and a shifting of resources to meet this regulatory reality. Here are four that are making a move to electrified fleets.
This October, Detroit-based General Motors (GM), the largest U.S. automaker, announced the company was embracing an all-electric vehicle fleet.
“General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of product development, purchasing and supply chain for GM, in a statement. “Although that future won't happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles through no-compromise solutions that meet our customers' needs.”
Within the next 18 months, GM plans to introduce two new all-electric vehicles based on its experiences with the Chevy Bolt EV. It plans to introduce 20 new EVs by 2023. Eventually, EVs and other alternative-fuel vehicles would replace all gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles in its lineup.
“Even as we continue to deliver the best fuel economy in the vehicles our customers love to drive today, we’ll move relentlessly and irreversibly to a zero-emissions future,” wrote Chairman and CEO Mary Barra in a LinkedIn post. “No more gas. No more diesel. No more carbon emissions.”
Barra pointed to GM’s 150 manufacturing facilities with a production capacity of 9 million vehicles per year for giving it an edge to test and make EVs and autonomous vehicles on a large scale.
In a recent presentation to analysts, Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett said the No. 2 U.S. automaker would shift capital investment from internal-combustion engines and sedans into creating EVs, hybrids and trucks, Reuters reported. Ford plans to introduce 13 electrified models in the next few years, investing $4.5 billion over five years. As part of its newly formed "Team Edison" group, Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford would partner with other companies to develop new technology to help share the costs and risks, while relying on truck and SUV sales in North America to provide the profits. It is planning for just one-third of Ford vehicle models to have internal-combustion engines by 2030.
As it seeks to turn the page from the 2016 diesel-emissions scandal, Volkswagen AG has been focusing hard on EVs, whether building out an EV charging infrastructure through its ElectrifyAmerica program or developing an electric-powered fleet.
In September, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller told attendees of the Frankfurt auto show that the German automaker would build electric versions of all 300 models within its 12-brand portfolio, Bloomberg reported. It would spend the equivalent of $24 billion by 2030 to introduce the vehicles to the market, with brands such as VW, Audi, Bentley and Porsche to offer EV versions of all of their models.
“The transformation in our industry is unstoppable,” said Mueller. “And we will lead that transformation.”
In July, Volvo became the first automaker to announce plans to shift its vehicle lineup away from internal-combustion engines toward electric motors, beginning in 2019. It plans to introduce vehicles with a range of electrification, from gasoline hybrids to plug-in hybrids to battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Volvo will debut five BEVs from 2019 to 2021.