Jan 6, 2022 - Energy & Environment

The fast-evolving electric vehicle landscape

The electric Chevy Silverado pickup.
The electric Chevy Silverado pickup. Photo courtesy of GM.

New vehicle rollouts, pledges and data this week offer a snapshot of where the electric vehicle market is today and where it's heading.

Driving the news: The big CES tech show brought several announcements.

  • General Motors took the wraps off the electric Chevy Silverado pickup, as well as plans for two new electric SUVs: a Chevy Equinox EV, starting around $30,000, and a Chevy Blazer, both coming in 2023.
  • Chrysler, part of the huge Stellantis group, said its whole lineup will be electric by 2028 and previewed its direction by unveiling the Airflow, a concept SUV.
  • Sony, two years after vaguely signaling electric vehicle plans, offered firmer info: It's creating a business unit called Sony Mobility Inc. to "explore entry into the EV market." Sony also unveiled an SUV concept.
  • Back to GM: It touted growth of its new BrightDrop commercial delivery van unit, with FedEx ordering another 2,000 vehicles and Walmart becoming the newest customer.

Our thought bubbles: As Axios' Joann Muller noted in our story Wednesday, the prominence of pickups and SUVs shows how companies are taking aim at the heart of the U.S. vehicle market.

  • Remember Ford said this week it's doubling production capacity for its electric F-150 pickup.

Electric pickups and SUVs are a potentially huge market — if consumers can be persuaded to go electric in large numbers. SUVs are approaching half (!) of global auto sales.

  • Nathan Bomey, in the Axios Closer newsletter, notes that GM and Ford sold 1.26 million Silverado and F-series pickups in the U.S. in 2021 — 34% more than Tesla’s total vehicle sales worldwide.
  • GM and Ford are positioned to jolt initial sales by tapping established relationships with fleet buyers, such as businesses and governments, that need a steady flow of new pickups and are eager to cut emissions.

The intrigue: The nexus between Big Tech and electric vehicles is clearly becoming a thing, but remains uncertain. Apple's auto plans are a moving target, and overall it's not clear whether tech giants might become carmakers themselves.

  • And here's The Verge on Sony: "[W]hether it intends to join the party as a full-fledged competitor or some form of supplier or partner is what we, and possibly Sony, don’t know yet."

By the numbers: A Morgan Stanley note this week says global sales of battery electric vehicles were up nearly 80% year over year in November.

  • EVs are still a small slice of global sales, but a growing one. "BEV penetration is running at ~16% in [the] EU, 16% in China and ~4% in the U.S.," it notes. Tesla is the global sales leader by a wide margin.

Go deeper: Ford announces plans to ramp up production on all-electric truck

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