Making Way for an All Electric Future

Navigant Research talks about the logistics of making electric vehicles mainstream on NPR’s On Point program

Earlier this week, automakers Ford and GM announced that they’re joining the race to displace traditional gas-powered vehicles with an eventual all-electric lineup. Sam Abuelsamid, senior research analyst at Navigant Research, recently spoke with Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR’s On Point, to share his insight on this shift away from gas as well as its implications across infrastructure, oil companies, the grid, regulation, and adoption barriers.

For instance, one of the issues that have some consumers shying away from electric vehicle (EV) adoption is not being able to fill up the tank in five minutes. While that’s unlikely to change in the near term — even today’s fastest EV charging systems require about 30 minutes to add 50-100 miles of range — Abuelsamid said progress is happening, and in the next 10 years or so, that time will decrease and the range will increase. But for now, the focus is on building out infrastructure and deploying more charging systems.

“It’s going to require a significant increase,” Abuelsamid said, “but it’s coming along with the vehicles, so we’re getting both the chicken and the egg starting to appear.”

For many consumers, cost is another barrier to EV adoption, and Abuelsamid said that, in this case, the battery is to blame. An EV’s battery is typically the highest cost premium — about $18,000-$20,000 for the Chevrolet Bolt, or roughly half the cost of the car.

“Those [battery] costs are coming down pretty rapidly, at about 5-6 percent a year in some cases, so we’re making a lot of progress there,” Abuelsamid added.

Also helping are China, Europe, and California — areas where regulation is pushing adoption in light of pollution concerns or proposed bans on traditional cars.

Abuelsamid was joined on On Point by Joann Muller, Detroit bureau chief and auto reporter for Forbes Magazine, and Michael Dunne, president of Dunne Automotive. Listen to the full podcast here.

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