Electric vehicles (EVs) have been around for more than a century, but have only been recently adopted as the vehicle of the future. Their rise comes as more people become conscientious about the devastating effects of fuel emissions and seeking out alternative fuel sources.
Electric cars were introduced to the world more than 100 years ago when British inventor Robert Anderson developed the first electric carriage. However, Henry Ford’s Model T introduced in 1908 soon made gasoline-powered cars more affordable for the average household, eliminating the need for electric vehicles significantly.
Today, gasoline prices continue to rise and fall and America has become dependent on foreign imports for fuel. Still, more people are aware of the effects of pollution and their carbon footprint and interest in electric vehicles is beginning to increase. According to a 2013 report from Navigant Research, electric vehicles account for more than 3 percent of new vehicle sales and are expected to increase to nearly 7 percent worldwide by 2020.
Americans now have an even better incentive to buy an electric vehicle — a kickback from the state for going green with an EV. The State of New York recently announced it will offer $2,000 to residents who choose an eco-friendly car. New York State’s Drive Clean Rebate for Electric Cars program provides up to $2,000 if you purchase an EV or a plug-in hybrid vehicle. If this purchase also ends up qualifying for a federal credit, you could save up to $7,500 on your purchase. The rebate is good for more than 30 car models and is a point-of-sale rebate — you would take $2,000 off the sticker price at the dealer for instant savings.
New York is joining more than 75 percent of the United States that are providing some type of state-level discount for reducing fuel emissions and investing in a hybrid or electric vehicle.
Are we entering the era of EVs? State and federal government entities are taking the lead on promoting the value of electric vehicles and providing incentives to stimulate sales. Plug In America, a non-profit organization, founded National Drive Electric Week in 2010 and advocates the use of plug-in cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles. The organization points out that EVs provide better performance efficiency and since electricity prices are more stable than gasoline prices, drivers don’t have to stress too much about fluctuations in fuel costs. Plug In America also highlights the benefits of improved air quality because of fewer emissions, the convenience of skipping trips to the gas stations and worrying about oil changes, and the benefit of bringing money back to U.S. soil by reducing our dependence on imported oil.
This past year, economists noted the electric-car boom underway which has left many major oil companies concerned about potential losses as demand for oil-based fuel drops. In April 2017, Total Chief Energy Economist Joel Cause shared his forecast and insights at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Conference in New York, stating that EVs are expected to make up 15 to 30 percent of new vehicles by 2030 which equates to more than 20 million sales of new cars.
Americans are already making the shift to electric vehicles at a steady rate; sales of EVs soared in 2016 with a total of 159,139 vehicles sold, including the Tesla Model S and Model X, Chevrolet Volt, and the Nissan Leaf. According to Forbes, sales of EVs in the United States have grown at a 32% compound annual growth rate in the past four years and we saw a 41$ global increase in sales in 2016 alone with 777,497 electric vehicles sold.
As battery prices drop and electric cars become more affordable, we may soon see a significant shift in car buying trends and an array of eco-friendly vehicle options making their way to dealerships. The traditional internal combustion engine will be slowly replaced by more efficient, low-maintenance electric vehicles available in all classes.
Demand for electric vehicles is the rise as more people adopt eco-friendly purchasing habits. As a result, we may see more gasoline-powered vehicles being replaced at even higher rates in the next few decades along with a steady disappearance of gas stations. Local governments will need to install charging stations across the city or town and electric vehicle owners will become more dependent on refueling their car from a power supply at home.
This shift could be a turning point for the history of the American consumer and for consumerism at a global level as the world becomes less reliant on foreign fuel: a less musical, and more literal form of electric slide.