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What EV slowdown? EVs charge on

BloombergNEF's Head of Transport Colin McKerracher shows off data about EVs

Bloomberg NEF's Head of Transport and Energy Storage, Colin McKerracher, shows off data about EV deployments at the BloombergNEF Summit in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of BloombergNEF

The EV transition is charging ahead despite hurdles, according to policymakers, company execs and investors at the BloombergNEF summit in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Why it matters: There's been a lot of attention on the slowdown in EV adoption in the U.S. as some big automakers and charging providers have struggled to maintain profits.

Details: According to a new report from BloombergNEF, for the first time last year electrified transportation became the largest sector for spending in the energy transition, growing 36% in 2023 to $634 billion.

  • "Electric vehicle sales are still rising," said Colin McKerracher, Bloomberg NEF's Head of Transport and Energy Storage kicking off the morning. There were 14 million EVs sold last year, and BNEF predicts it's going to be just under 17 million this year, he noted.
  • "We're not slowing down," said California Energy Commissioner Patty Monahan on a panel. "This is an unstoppable trend."
  • McKerracher said that while the number of EVs being sold each year is rising in absolute terms, the rate of growth is falling. It's gone from 100% growth per year a few years ago, to potentially 20% growth in 2024, he said.

What they're saying: Attendees of the event generally saw the attention to an EV slowdown as overblown and an issue of mismanaged expectations.

  • Chelsea Sexton, Senior Consultant, Transportation, Loans Programs Office, U.S. Department of Energy said on a panel "we're seeing certain models go up or down, and that's pretty natural in the auto market generally speaking. There are also going to be infant struggles with new models."
  • "But overall EVs continue to grow," said Sexton, who's been working in the EV sector for 30 years and was one of the stars of the 2006 documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?".
  • The EV transition will also be harder for automaker incumbents that still produce gas-powered cars like GM and Ford. EV-only companies like Tesla and BYD are taking away market share from established automakers, McKerracher said.

Big picture: Global automakers are struggling to figure out the transition to electric vehicles, but the trend isn't going away.

  • And it's not just automakers; utilities will rapidly need to adapt to a world that will power vehicles with electrons.
  • Southern California Edison is planning for electricity demand to rise by more than 80% by 2045, if 90% of vehicles and 95% of buildings go electric.
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