Goodbye gas?

There will be more than 100 different battery-powered vehicles available in five years, despite little interest so far from drivers.
By Keith Naughton

From Automakers with ambitious plans to roll out more than a hundred new battery-powered models in the next five years appear to be forgetting one little thing: Drivers aren’t yet buzzed about the new technology.

Electric cars—which today comprise only 1 percent of auto sales worldwide, and even less in the U.S.—will account for just 2.4 percent of U.S. demand and less than 10 percent globally by 2025, according to researcher LMC Automotive. But while consumer appetite slogs along, carmakers are still planning a tidal wave of battery-powered models that may find interested buyers few and far between.



“When you hear people talk about the tipping point, it’s really that they’re counting the number of product offerings,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford Motor Co.’s global head of product development and purchasing, said of electric cars. “Nobody can cite what the actual demand will be.”

With battery costs declining rapidly and Tesla Inc.’s stock price on a tear, automakers are rushing to get in the game with their own all-electric models. General Motors Co. has announced plans to roll out 20 models by 2023, while Ford and Volkswagen AG are among those planning new electric lineups in China. Toyota Motor Corp. this week promised more than 10 electric models by early next decade.



In total, 127 battery-electric models will be introduced worldwide in the next five years, Thai-Tang said, with LMC predicting pure electric offerings will increase by more than five-fold to 75 models in the U.S. alone.