When Will Electric Cars Overtake Gas-Powered Vehicles? A Closer Look at Automotive Trends

You’re probably reading this on your smartphone. In 2016, mobile search overtook desktop search for the first time. The same thing will happen to electric cars and gas-powered vehicles. 

According to Experian’s recent analysis of electric vehicles in the US, it’s going to take a while. Other voices, however, say that changes are likely to occur more quickly.

A Closer Look at Automotive Trends

A Story of 284 Million Cars

Figures and opinions on this subject vary, but Experian and UBS can provide us with some useful insights into the future of electric vehicles.

In Experian’s figures from the second quarter of 2022, 284 million cars were on US roads. Of this staggering number, less than 2 million were electric vehicles. That’s just one electric vehicle out of every 142 gas guzzlers. 

This is not brilliant news for the planet. And it looks like you might not need to prepare for a significant electric vehicle revolution any time soon. What’s important here is not to take statistics in isolation but to look at the context.

In 2016, when mobile search was showing desktop search who was boss, US citizens were driving 400,000 electric vehicles. This means that in six years, there was an increase of 325%. Considering this rate, analysts believe that a quarter of vehicle sales could be electric vehicles as soon as 2035. 

According to the same analysts, we are about a quarter of a century away from 60% of new sales being electric.

In Experian’s view, we’re pretty far from having an electric car revolution, however. The figure 60% refers to new sales — it does not consider the number of existing gas-powered vehicles remaining on the road.

It looks like driving an electric car is still going to feel pretty special for quite a few years. Still, a number of factors could make this balance of power shift sooner.

According to investment bank UBS as reported by BBC News:

  • Globally, one in five new car sales will be electric.
  • In 2030, that’s likely to become 2 out of every 5.
  • By 2040, all new cars sold will be electric.

We won’t know the exact timeline for these changes until they happen, but the electric car revolution is already underway. 

Factors Affecting Electric Vehicle Use

Cost of Buying New Cars

Pricing is a major factor that could increase the speed with which people adopt electric cars. 

Prices are already dropping as a result of competition in the market and improvements in manufacturing productivity. Tesla, Nissan, and Hyundai have all slashed thousands off the cost of their electrical offerings. 

Cost of Second-Hand Cars

While the cost of new electrical vehicles is dropping, second-hand electric vehicles have tended to retain their value. 

Having said that, a federal electric vehicle tax credit may be viable for purchases less than $25,000. This could incentivize people to buy electric and change the balance of electric vs. gas-powered vehicles sooner. 

Barriers to Electric Vehicle Adoption

Morals and the health of the planet are critical, but people have to live in the short term, too. Price is a significant barrier to more people turning to cleaner transport technology.

Another barrier to EV take-up is that what we have has been working for a long time. People are reluctant to change apparently winning formulas if they don’t have to. 

The introduction of the internal combustion engine was a major game-changer with wide adoption and many applications. It stands to reason that seeing it go will take a while.

While — ironically — market forces are moving at a glacial pace, it may take state legislation to phase out gas-powered vehicles entirely.

This legislation is happening. California has committed to using only all-electric vehicles by 2035. And many governments globally are introducing targets regarding the end of petrol and diesel vehicle sales.

Accelerating Electric Vehicle Sales

Still, the switch in balance from gas vehicles to electric vehicles is happening. We can see this because major car manufacturers are making significant efforts to tap into the electric vehicle market.

Some giant manufacturers have revealed bold goals. Jaguar, for example, intends to sell electric cars exclusively as soon as 2025. Volvo has the same goal with a timeline of 2030. 

General Motors has agreed to put out only electric cars by 2035. Ford intends to be all-electric in Europe by 2030. And Volkswagon aims to make 70% of sales through electric vehicles by 2030.

According to some industry experts, the rise in number of electric vehicles on the road will be far steeper than suggested by the current uptake. The new technology is very disruptive for the market and is likely to cause something more akin to a bomb going off than a gradual increase. 

What we are seeing now is the relatively slow growth that can be expected as new technology develops and starts appearing on the roads thanks to tech-savvy or adventurous early adopters. 

With advances in production and manufacturing — particularly improvements in battery technology and getting those costs down — we can then expect exponential growth aligned with the lowering of purchase prices.

It also helps that electric cars are cool. 

The Tesla Model 3 will blow the hair back from your face, accelerating from 0 to 60 in just over 3 seconds. They are comfortable, clean, and iconic. 

Their range has vastly improved over the earlier electric cars, too. It will be three hundred miles before you need to recharge your Tesla 3. 

The technology of electric cars in general is more viable following improvements in the motors, computers, charging systems, and, vitally, the batteries themselves.

To conclude

There’s a lot going for electric vehicles. Improving infrastructure to support the maintenance and charging of electric cars plays a significant role in their adoption. 

In light of the above, buying an electric vehicle seems like a smart investment. In case you need assistance in selecting your car, it’s wise to find a specialist on Leadar who can clarify the nuances and help you with your choice.

Many electric vehicles are already there. It’s just up to you to catch up with them.

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