The automotive industry is evolving at a rapid pace, and one of the most visible examples of this evolution is the increasing popularity of electric cars. The desire for electric-powered vehicles has been growing steadily for years, but high prices for the vehicles have acted as a barrier to entry for the average consumer. But two announcements made in July 2017 that could change all of that.
EVs for the Masses
The first announcement came from Tesla, the U.S.-based solar energy and automotive company. While Tesla has two luxury-level electric cars already in production, the Model S and Model X, the company’s desire to create an electric car for the masses has been well-publicized. On July 3rd of this year, Tesla announced that the first $35,000 Model S would be rolling off the assembly line the following week. The company further noted that production of the lower-priced Model S will continue to ramp up for the remainder of 2017, with 100 vehicles planned for August, 1500 in September, with the ultimate goal being to produce 20,000 per week by December 2017. [i]
Just a few days after Tesla’s announcement, automotive giant Volvo announced its plan to end production of standard combustion-engine vehicles within two years.
Starting in 2019, all new car models from Volvo will either be purely electric or hybrid. With five new Electric Vehicle (EV) models planned to launch between 2019 and 2021, Volvo is creating a diverse portfolio of vehicles for consumer to choose from. Two of the new cars will be sold under Volvo’s Polestar brand, which is focused on higher-end, purely electric vehicles, while the other three models will be gasoline or diesel plug-in hybrids. [ii]
With these new vehicles hitting the market in the near future, the presence of electric vehicles will become more common across the United States. Luckily, many states have been preparing for an electric future and have developed plans for new infrastructure to accommodate the influx of EV’s on their roads and highways.
Nevada: Leading the Charge
As electric car technology advances, so too must the infrastructure that will support them. In 2016, the state of Nevada began the development of the Electric Highway, an infrastructure upgrade to the state’s road network.
Phase One of this project focused on U.S. 95, a stretch of highway that runs between the cities of Las Vegas and Reno. The plan involves the installation of EV charging stations at intervals along the highway, with each charging station consisting of one DC Fast Charger and two Level 2 Chargers. Each DC Fast Charger can fully charge an electric vehicle in under one hour, while Level 2 chargers require several hours to completely replenish an EVs battery. Two Nevada communities, Beatty and Fallon, have already had charging stations installed and two more are planned for the cities of Hawthorne and Tonopah in 2017. With the first phase of the Electric Highway nearing completion, the program will soon move into Phase Two, which will see the installation of charging stations along additional roads including U.S. 50 and U.S. 93. [iii]
In an effort to create easy charging access for the states 2100 EV’s and 31,000 hybrid vehicles, Nevada has entered into a joint action plan with Colorado and Utah. Under the multistate plan, a network of charging stations will be installed across all three states to help ease concerns among electric car owners about the availability of charging stations during long-distance car trips. As part of the plan, Nevada will install additional charging station on Interstates 80 and 15, further expanding the state’s Electric Highway program. Colorado’s 70, 76, 25 and Utah’s 70, 80, 15 interstates will also receive charging infrastructure similar to those used on Nevada’s U.S. 90. [iv]
With both the Electric Highway and multistate joint action plan already in motion, Nevada is continuing to make plans for the future of car travel in the state. A month before Tesla and Volvo’s announcements, Nevada signed Bill 145 (the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstration Program) into law. Created to foster the widespread use of electric vehicles, the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstration Program will promote further development of EV infrastructure in Nevada. [v]
The Electric Future
Automakers are now focused on the development of new, more affordable electric and hybrid vehicles, giving consumers more opportunities to find the EV model that fits their needs. Tesla and Volvo are far from the only players in the electric car sector: GM has the Chevrolet Bolt, which can travel 238 miles on a single charge of its batteries, while Audi and Ford are planning to introduce electric SUVs with 300-mile charge ranges. Volkswagen is planning to introduce more than 30 new EV models by 2025. [i]
With the production of electric vehicles ramping up across the auto-making sector, states across the nation will be planning and budgeting for upgrades and construction of new infrastructure as part of efforts to create a nationwide electric highway – all of which ensures that there will be many opportunities for vendors in the sector in the years to come.
Kevin McClintock | BidNet.com