Requiring 60+ percent of U.S. vehicles sales to be pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2030 leapfrogged the administration’s own 2021 executive order that called for 50 percent electric vehicles – including plug-in hybrid and fuel cell EVs – by 2030. More on that below.
That 2021 executive order was a stretch goal (then and now), but the auto industry backed a 40-50 percent EV sales target – presuming the requisite public policies would also be in place.
When the companies that will build the millions of EVs required by these regulations say the pace and balance of EPA’s rules are out of whack – in fact, we told the agency those rules are “neither reasonable nor achievable in the timeframe provided" and opens the door to China – regulators and policymakers should believe them.
It’s not too late to course correct. Here are five ways for EPA to fix the proposed rule while supporting increased automotive electrification and carbon reduction.
1. Don’t write off plug-in hybrids and fuel cell EVs.
The current EPA rule calls for 37 percent of new light-duty cars and trucks to be BEVs by 2027 (and the aforementioned 60+ percent by 2030). Keep in mind, BEV sales were just under 6 percent in 2022.
But EPA’s proposal goes further and completely writes off plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). A 67 percent BEV-only approach by 2032 will unquestionably reduce consumer choice and push automakers to non-compliance with such unachievable requirements. The administration’s 50 percent executive order from 2021 included BEVs and PHEVs and fuel cell electric vehicles. Why take PHEV technology off the field?
2. Don't siphon finite resource from EVs to gas-powered vehicles.
EPA’s proposal also sets new rules for criteria pollutants from gas-powered vehicles that are already near zero emissions. A backpack leaf blower produces more ozone-forming pollution in one hour than driving an SUV for 6,000 miles.
But automakers support criteria pollution reductions, most recently in California where we developed a path to reduce particulate matter by 67 percent between 2025 and 2028. EPA should get behind those criteria pollution standards.
That said, EPA’s rule requires automakers to eke out some incremental improvements by installing expensive new technology on all internal combustion engines – a powertrain the administration wants to discourage (and California has already banned for new vehicles sales by 2035).
The point: automakers are investing massive amounts of capital in electrification, but every dollar invested (required to be invested, that is) in internal combustion technology is a dollar not spent on zero carbon technology. And vice versa.
3. Sync up EPA’s rules with yet-to-be-released Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
A vehicle tailpipe is regulated by three federal agencies and four sets of regulations. One vehicle overseen by competing, overlapping (sometimes conflicting) rules that aren’t coordinated. It’s expensive and complex and frankly why the country and automakers need a single national standard to reduce carbon in transportation through a streamlined regulatory structure.
At the very least, if an automaker complies with EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions rules, they shouldn’t be at risk of violating the Transportation Department’s coming CAFE rules and subject to significant civil penalties (that create no environmental benefit but do levy additional costs on consumers, workers, and manufacturers).
4. While you’re at it… sync up the rules and eliminate conflict with state standards too.
Let me revise that. A vehicle tailpipe is regulated by three federal agencies and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) using seven sets of regulations. EPA should get with CARB to ensure both programs are on the same wavelength and not creating unnecessary compliance burdens (that deliver no corresponding emissions reduction benefits).
5. Keep score (and keep track) of conditions outside the vehicle.
I’m a broken record about policies and conditions outside the vehicle, necessary for a successful EV transition: residential and public charging, critical mineral availability and grid capacity. EPA should develop a roadmap and methodically track this data so the country – and all sectors of the economy responsible for the transformation – can collectively assess progress.
EPA should release a public report taking stock of the overall EV market, the mineral and processing supply chain, and state of refueling and charging infrastructure. For example: How is the transition going? Is it meeting EPA’s milestones? If not, what’s the fix?
When I raise these points with policymakers, I hear: “Well, things have changed since 2021” and the 50 percent executive order. The implication: EPA’s higher EV targets make sense because EV sales continue to grow. We’re on the right path… they say.
I don’t see it that way, and most experts who’ve been building autos or studying the industry for any length of time don’t either. EPA’s proposal is an outlier when compared to the EV adoption models of S&P, Bloomberg, and other analysts. See this chart:
EPA is asking for a huge BEV ramp up in the next few years. On a graph, their model looks like a hockey stick. The pitch of that curve is most aggressive in the next few years when market conditions (consumer acceptance, supply chains, infrastructure) are most speculative.
The administration’s 50 percent goal in 2021 was aspirational, but it was also based on clearly defined climate goals – from the United Nations and the incoming Biden administration (reflected in its 2023 National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization). It was built on a foundation of credible assumptions. And data.
The 60+ percent BEVs by 2030 plan, on the other hand, is a house of cards (… a house of cars?). It rolls up rosy forecasts (like EV batteries will eventually cost automakers nothing) and other hopeful assumptions.
The next couple years are make or break. The auto industry is making huge progress on electrification and continued improvements to internal combustion engine technology. Don’t toss it away now. Let’s come out of this process with a balanced, achievable and durable rule that maintains customer choice and doesn’t blunt America’s EV momentum.
John Bozzella is president and CEO of Alliance for Automotive Innovation. This editorial originally ran at https://www.autosinnovate.org/posts/blog/epas-rules-are-out-of-whack-five-ways-to-fix-them.
Consumer demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is at an all-time high – in fact, EV sales saw a 50 percent increase in the first half of this year, compared to 10 percent growth for combustion engine vehicles. Analysts estimate the U.S. will reach one million EV sales this year, and roughly one-third of U.S. drivers say they are considering an EV for their next car purchase. The Tesla Model Y is the best-selling car in the country.
These are the facts, yet I keep hearing claims about sagging EV demand. But to claim this is just flimsy cover for automakers who want to argue that a rapid transition away from polluting gas-powered cars and trucks is too ambitious.
Cox Automotive recently reported that EVs sit longer on dealership lots than do combustion engine vehicles. Based on that report, many media outlets concluded that EV demand is weak. Unfortunately, most analyses of Cox’s report ignore critical data and context.
For starters, Tesla, the best-selling EV manufacturer on the planet, does not use dealerships – so there is no data on the company factored into Cox’s report. Given that Tesla accounts for roughly 60 percent of all EVs sold in the U.S., to conclude that EV demand is low because EVs are sitting on dealer lots is judging demand based on only 40 percent of the market – and the weaker 40 percent at that.
For the EVs that are sold through dealers, Cox’s report looks at wait times for all EVs instead of differentiating by type – compact SUVs, hatchbacks, luxury electric trucks, etc. Internal combustion engine data is analyzed at a detailed level, instead of lumped together, so why do the opposite for EVs?
It’s 2023, and electric vehicles come in all sizes, shapes, and at wide-ranging price points. A closer look reveals that the EVs flagged for slower sales are largely big, expensive luxury SUVs or foreign-made luxury EVs. This isn’t just true for EVs: the slowest-selling gas-powered models right now are luxury cars and SUVs priced similarly to the slowest-selling EVs.
Vehicles ineligible for federal tax credits are seeing higher lot wait times than others. If consumer demand for EVs was the problem, all EVs would be sitting on lots, not just the expensive ones.
Smaller, more affordable EVs like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Models 3 and Y have set records and drove EV sales to all-time highs in the second quarter of 2023. That’s not a surprise, because the gas-powered cars with the tightest inventories in the U.S. are also smaller cars and compact SUVs.
The issue is not demand, it’s affordability, and it's affecting gas and electric cars alike. If the market for EVs appears weak overall, it’s only because automakers are making too many larger, pricier models and not enough smaller, less expensive ones.
Analysis of the car market cannot ignore the broader economy. High interest rates and a turbulent economy are changing consumer spending habits for all kinds of products, including cars. Earlier this year, analysts found new gas-powered cars are out of reach for many consumers as interest rates rise and the average price hit almost $50,000 (a 30 percent increase from three years ago). Manufacturers have reduced the number of affordable models, leading many people to put off buying a car or opt for a used vehicle.
Clearly there is enormous demand for affordable EVs. Luckily,automakers have more resources than ever from the federal government to make the transition to electric vehicles and to make more affordable EVs available now. With the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law, new tax credits for EVs make some models even more affordable than comparable combustion engine cars.
EVs are more popular than ever, and Americans want to buy them. We are moving from the early-adopter phase to the mass market, and car companies should adjust their production accordingly. Instead of producing bigger, more expensive electric trucks and SUVs, automakers must make more affordable EVs to meet booming demand.
East Peterson-Trujillo is a clean vehicles campaigner at Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest, https://www.citizen.org/
Chevrolet’s exciting new Corvette E-Ray marks several important milestones for the marque, most notably the Corvette’s first application of hybrid technology and its first use of all-wheel-drive. It’s also expected to be the quickest Corvette ever with projected 0-60 acceleration in just 2.5 seconds. The E-Ray will be replacing the Gran Sport trim option in the Corvette lineup, with Chevrolet offering three trim levels for the E-Ray including the entry-level 1LZ, mid-range 2LZ, and top-line 3LZ.
The E-Ray will use Chevrolet’s 6.2-liter LT2 crossplane crankshaft V-8 producing 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft torque. The midship LT2 is augmented by a magnesium and carbon fiber-encased 160 horsepower electric motor mounted at the front, with energy supplied by a 1.9 kWh lithium-ion battery. The E-Ray’s combined 655 horsepower and 595 lb-ft torque is channeled through a Tremec eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. All this provides enough muscle to earn the E-Ray a quarter-mile time of 10.5 seconds at 130 mph.
Handling all this muscle is well-covered. Brembo Carbon-Ceramic brakes and Chevrolet’s Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 are standard equipment, along with staggered 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels employing wide, Z-rated all-season tires. Chevrolet also gives drivers plenty of options when it comes to applying the E-Ray’s lean and green power with six selectable driving modes. These include Tour, Sport, Track, Weather, My Mode, and Z-Mode.
Plenty of sustainable and eco-friendly functions are also built in. Active Fuel Management allows the LT2 V-8 to shut down half its cylinders during times of low power demand to conserve fuel. Drivers can select a Charge+ mode to maximize battery life when high performance is not needed. An E-Ray-specific Stealth Mode is also standard that enables driving silently on battery power up to 45 mph for limited distances, a welcome function for drivers and neighbors alike.
A Corvette is meant to look lean as well as quick, and the E-Ray is no exception. The E-Ray’s front end retains the C8 Corvette look, with a couple of unique styling cues. A body-colored grille surround is present around the wide-mouthed opening, along with a pair of large and functional air induction ports sitting beneath chiseled, aggressive headlights. The classic Fleur-De-Lis emblem, synonymous with the Corvette name since its introduction in 1953, is seen center stage.
At both sides of the E-Ray are a pair of imposing side scoops that guide air over the rear wheels to enhance better grip. These side scoops are outlined with a three-pronged, gloss black design that’s yet another styling cue unique to the E-Ray. Aggressive haunches sit atop both the front and rear wheels, a look that is ironically Corvette.
Looking rearward, those wide haunches slope back into the E-Rays slightly pointed rear end and impart a familiar and decidedly athletic look. A pair of functional air exit ports sitting above a quad-tailpipe exhaust system are surrounded by a large, race-inspired rear air diffuser finished in gloss black. Looking down through the rear window allows viewing the LT2 V-8 on full display.
Inside is an interior designed to completely immerse occupants in the driving experience. A squared, Formula 1-inspired carbon fiber steering wheel sits in front of the driver with an 8-inch infotainment screen angled directly towards the driver’s position. A 12-inch digital gauge cluster in front of the wheel displays the usual functions along with battery life and torque readings unique to the E-Ray. A large pillar angling downward from the dash features climate and seat warmer controls, among others. Twin stitching and tone-on-tone colors are used throughout the passenger space, along with carbon fiber-accented seatbacks. Chevrolet made sure to include a front trunk, or frunk, seen on regular C8 models as research indicated it was an important feature for prospective E-Ray buyers.
The E-Ray contains plenty of brains to go along with all its brawn. Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 Plus system is present, offering Bluetooth audio streaming and wireless CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
Chevrolet’s Corvette E-Ray is a very big deal for the performance automotive world. It is the first hybrid V-8 sports car made domestically for the consumer market, as well as the quickest Corvette ever produced. All eyes will be on the E-Ray, and time will tell if it can live up to the hype. Pricing starts at $104,295 for the 1LZ coupe version, with deliveries of the E-Ray expected to begin in late 2023.
First teased back in 2021 with a bold, forward-looking design that’s still signature Kia, the automaker’s electric EV9 emerged in recent months to great expectations. Not the least of these expectations is from Kia itself, which aims for the Kia EV9 to take the family SUV market by storm, much like its spiritual Telluride sibling did when it was released four years ago.
Kia’s signature EV model line was launched in 2021 with the EV6, an all-electric compact crossover. The EV9 is the automaker’s second volley in the EV wars, sharing Kia’s E-GMP platform also used by the EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and 6, and the Genesis GV60. Kia hasn’t released much info regarding trim levels, but we do know the EV9 will be offered in Kia’s GT trim sporting unique 21-inch wheels, roof rack, and dark chrome exterior accents. Entry pricing is speculated to begin around $55,000.
As of now, Kia has announced two powertrain choices for the upcoming EV9. First will be a base RWD option sporting 215 horsepower and 258 lb-ft torque utilizing a 77.6 kWh battery. The second is an AWD variant capable of producing 379 horsepower and 516 lb-ft torque with a long range 99.8 kWh battery. Kia is targeting 300 miles with its long range battery setup, while estimates for the base 77.6 kWh battery variant are currently unknown. Kia boasts a towing capacity of up to 5000 pounds, matching the Telluride. Charging the battery from 10 to 80 percent is handled in just 25 minutes thanks to Kia’s fourth-generation battery technology and use of an 800-volt fast charger.
The Kia EV9 has a surprisingly well-blended combination of varying styles, most prominent being its sci-fi essence. At the front, Kia’s ‘Tiger Face’ front fascia design metric is ruggedly futuristic with a large, black grille that emphasizes an appealing design flow, accentuated by slim, vertically oriented headlights that angle diagonally toward the grille. A high, sloping hood reminds us we are in the presence of a large and capable SUV. Hidden windshield wipers mean the continuity of the hood is uninterrupted, adding a subtle sleekness to this SUV.
Along the sides, the EV9’s most striking feature is its wheels. Kia’s use of simple geometric shapes as a base for the wheel design underscores how futuristic the model is meant to be perceived. That, along with its chunky, trapezoidal wheel arches, sharp fender lines, and smoothly uninterrupted body lines, provide an appealing amalgamation of styles. Around back, we see a very minimalist hatch with a subtle spoiler extending out from the roofline. The taillights were designed along the lines of Kia’s ‘Star-map Signature Lighting’ system, with the intent to emphasize the flow of body lines as they wrap into the rear of the EV9. Another styling benefit of this lighting system is its ability to frame the rear window, which represents yet another futuristic design cue.
Inside is a different story. Here’s Kia’s intent is to offer a cabin designed to be as comfortable and calming as possible without the complexity and futurism of its exterior. Most functions are controlled through the infotainment screen, which extends into the driver’s sightline to also act as a digital gauge cluster. Beneath the screen, Kia added dash-integrated haptic buttons that control key functions of the infotainment system. Buttons and switches are kept to a minimum to reinforce the model’s calm and comfortable interior theme.
The EV9 makes good use of negative space, with decorative cloth inserts placed in the doors and the passenger side dash fascia. A floating center console stretches into the second row and features a reasonable amount of storage space. Optional 8-way reclining seats are offered for the first and second rows featuring heating and cooling capabilities. The EV9 follows Kia’s 10 essential materials interior production method using synthetic leather and recycled material throughout the cabin. Using a flat floor, cargo room is ample within the EV9, with 20 cubic feet of cargo room when all three rows are in use, as well as nearly 82 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded down.
The EV9 features a lot of tech with 20 collision avoidance and active driver technologies, three of which are all-new for Kia. These include standard Highway Driving Assist 2 that combines adaptive cruise control, stop-and-go assist, and lane-centering assistance. Standard Lane Following Assist helps the driver stay centered in their lane by delivering slight steering inputs, and optional Advanced Highway Driving Assist uses LiDAR technology to scan the road for potential hazards. Also standard is Remote Parking Assist 2, allowing drivers to remotely park their vehicles using Kia’s smartphone app, Kia Connect. The EV9 also employs over-the-air software updates.
With the speedy advance of electric vehicles, it’s no surprise that legacy automakers are starting to make strides in tech and production, and the Kia EV9 is poised to make a big impact. The EV9 is pointed squarely at Kia’s plans for the future of the brand and should begin arriving at dealers by the end of 2023.
Approximately 6 percent of the vehicles sold in the U.S. today are electric. That’s only 825,000 EVs. When you consider that 40 percent of those sales are in California, that leaves less than 500,000 divided among 49 states.
The good news – for the environment and EV sales – is that most prognostications point toward 40 – 50 percent of all vehicles on America’s roads by 2030 will be electric.So, what’s an EV manufacturer to do? The simple answer is that there’s a rainbow of solutions.
Some traditional manufacturers are still making profits from predictable internal combustion vehicles. They’re selling the ICE experience that wraps around their cars and trucks. For example, there’s the hot version from Dodge and the off-road variants from Ford. They are wisely finding low-cost methods to stretch the lives of their portfolio products while simultaneously stepping into the EV marketplace.
Quite a few pundits have disparaged Toyota for being slow to develop a pure EV portfolio. Their scientists, however, claim there is no single silver bullet. To support a move to lower carbon consumption, the worldwide leader in auto sales is remaining flexible. Their reasoning is that drivers across the country will not have access to a widespread full electric infrastructure for quite a few years. So, hybrid range, extended electric, cleaner gasoline, hydrogen fuel cells and, of course, full electric are going to play prominent roles for at least the next 20 to 30 years.
Tesla originally shook the industry when the investment community heaped kudos and cash on Elon Musk for being a futurist and an outsized disruptor. Now, nearly every manufacturer is sprinting into electrification, but, as usual, it will not be a one-size-fits-all formula. Manufacturers will still have to balance their portfolios to ensure profits and perform tried-and-true marketing methods.
There will assuredly be quite a few auto companies that fall away in the process. And some that aren’t making headlines today will be front page news tomorrow. Bottom line: we still have at least another decade or so of industry disruption ahead of us.
Playing it safe creates mediocrity and oftentimes failure. At Karma, research, data, a brilliant design team, and common sense are guiding our efforts toward fulfilling a unique market niche. Our American luxury brand will be a variant of: Distinctive. Aspirational. Exotic-Elegant-Electric. Or maybe something entirely different, but still addressing a clean mobility future. (We’ll be revealing our actual updated branding and marketing beginning in the latter stages of 2023.)
Whatever we decide, we expect to build a competitive advantage by being a mirror of our customers in an industry that will soon be bursting at the seams. We truly aspire to drive change beyond the norm, building vehicles that inspire positive transformation in the world.
Select a strategic direction, extol the differentiators, and state the story. An entire organization – inside and out – should enthusiastically speak with one voice, unapologetically dispensing core messaging over and over again.
U.S. businesses lose nearly $40 billion annually due to poor customer service. The EV world – where there are often unique customer demands – is not an exception to this rule. In fact, as the segment expands, superior service is actually becoming a differentiator. While we’ve all been rightfully focused on sales, many of the shiny new vehicles have become a bit road-worn and require regular maintenance and occasional repairs.
This is where a breakdown occurs. A quality customer experience should be mandatory. Developing well-schooled EV service techs is an astute investment that is too often overlooked.
The transition into EVs and, more broadly, the next chapter of automotive will be defined by the experiences that automakers create for customers. As media and digital interactions move deeper into the fabric of society, the ability and desire to create an unbroken connection between the life of the consumer and the products they consume will be an increasingly prevalent focus.
It will not be the buying, the service, or even the driving that build sales. Instead, it will be how the vehicle can be inserted into the continuum of a consumer’s life to complement their sense of self and future aspirations.
In April, Marques McCammon was named president of Irvine, Calif.-based ultra-luxury carmaker Karma Automotive. His 30-year auto industry career across four continents includes engineering, manufacturing, brand leadership, marketing, and software-based product advancement.
Manufactured in Tennessee on Volkswagen’s MEB modular world electric car platform, the 2021 VW ID.4 presents a new and compelling all-electric SUV that enters a segment presently dominated by Tesla, Chevrolet, and a select few others. What ID.4 brings to the battery electric SUV segment that Tesla doesn’t is price, coming in at a base cost of $39,995, some $10,000 less than Tesla’s Model Y.
For this, electric vehicle buyers get SUV hatchback utility, three-foot legroom in all seating positions, and ample luggage capacity for 5 adults. VW estimates ID.4 driving range at 250 mile on a full charge, and additionally points out that an additional 60 miles of range is attainable in just 10 minutes from a public DC quick-charge station.
Sporting a stature similar to that of Honda’s CR-V, the Volkswagen ID.4 rides on a steel-framed architecture featuring strut-like front suspension and multi-link suspension with coil-over shocks at the rear. This, combined with a long wheelbase and short overhangs, promises a smooth ride dynamic. Braking is handled by front disk and rear drum brakes.
A single permanent magnet, synchronous electric motor directs power to the rear wheels. The ID.4 produces 201 horsepower and 228 lb-ft torque that’s expected to deliver a 60 mph sprint in about 8 seconds. Electricity to power the motor is provided by an air-cooled, frame-integrated 82 KWh lithium-ion modular cell battery. An onboard 11KW charger enables three charge modes via standard 110-volt household power, 220-volt Level 2 charging, or DC fast charging. Typical charging with a home wall charger or public Level 2 charger will bring a full charge in 6 to 7 hours.
A minimalistic yet futuresque cabin with segment leading cabin volume rounds out ID.4’s architecture. Features include a driver-centric, touch sensitive steering wheel and a view-forward 5.3-inch ID information center that replaces conventional gauges. Vehicle operation is through steering wheel-mounted switches, with infotainment, climate control, device connectivity, navigation, and travel information accessed through a 10.3 inch touchscreen monitor. A 12 inch monitor is available with the model’s Statement Package.
Topping the list of features is expanded voice command and a communicative dash-integrated ID light bar. ‘Intuitive Start’ driver key fob recognition enables pre-start cabin conditioning capability. Base model upholstery is ballistic cloth with leatherette seat surfaces optional.
Volkswagen’s IQ Drive driver assist and active safety suite features travel assist, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, front and rear sensors, emergency assist, blinds spot monitoring, rear traffic watch and more. All this comes standard along with Pro Navigation, a heated steering wheel and front seats, wireless phone charging, and app connectivity for compatible devices.
The ID.4 EV is available in six colors and two trim levels, Gradient and Statement, for personalization. The optional Gradient package features a black roof, silver roof trim, silver accents, and silver roof rails along with 20-inch wheels to complete the upscale look. Looking forward, while rear-wheel drive is the choice today, Volkswagen is already talking up an all-wheel drive variant for early 2021 along with a lower-priced base model.
As the world’s largest automotive group, Volkswagen has the capacity to change the ever-expanding electric-car landscape. Looking at the style and utility of VW’s all-new ID.4, you can sense the renewed “people’s car” direction of the brand that accompanies the automaker’s commitment to electrification. VW says it’s aiming at selling 20 million electric cars based on the MEB electric car platform by model year 2029. Certainly, the potential for selling in truly significant numbers is reinforced by ID.4 pre-orders selling-out in just weeks, it’s safe to say.