Auto International: Electric market USA
It’s going up
The USA is slowly getting a taste for electronics. In the third quarter there was an impressive increase of 50 percent compared to the previous year. For the first time, the 300,000 new registrations mark was broken.
The United States of America has a reputation among many as being a country of electric vehicles. But the image is wrong and stems in particular from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has been loud for years, and the fact that many people associate the USA with the coastal regions and especially the state of California. But the reality is very different in various respects, because there is not much of the electric models to be seen outside of the coastal regions. When it comes to electric vehicles, the world’s second-largest auto nation lags behind China, as does Europe. The reason is not only the Midwest with its mighty expanses, but also the southern states and the northern regions towards Canada. Here, customers still choose a combustion engine and, in most cases, a high-performance gasoline engine. Despite all the eco-friendly tendencies, the full-size pickups are more popular than ever and after the delivery difficulties due to the parts supply, the bestsellers Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram are also going back to their old dimensions.
The fact that these mass models will also be available as fully electric versions next year doesn’t change anything. So far, the Ford F-150 Lightning has only been available with electric drive for around a year and a half. Demand is good, but no longer as gigantic as it was two to three years ago, when Ford dealers almost had their doors knocked down. Next year, the Chevrolet Silverado and the Dodge Ram REV 1500 with electric drives will follow, with some delay. This is less likely to result in gigantic sales figures, as production is only ramping up slowly, but rather is important for a change in mood regarding the drives. Despite impressive sales figures, Tesla is under pressure because competition from Germany is attacking the aging Tesla models more than ever. Hardly anyone talks about the high-priced versions of the Tesla Model The latter recently received a long-overdue revision – the Model Y is due to follow soon and no one knows when the Cybertruck, which has been postponed several times, will roll out to customers in significant numbers.
Even though things are slowly improving, most car manufacturers are looking positively towards the future when it comes to electric models. After all, the US market for electric cars has been growing for 13 quarters in a row and many manufacturers were able to significantly increase their sales this year. But even though there was significant growth and the 300,000 quarterly mark was broken for the first time, the sales share of electric cars across the USA is still well below the tenth mark at just under eight percent. This means that admissions choices have tripled in the past three years. By 2030, a third of newly registered models in the United States will be powered by an electric motor.
It’s not just the ramp-up of new models from import brands from the Hyundai, Stellantis and Volkswagen groups that are expected to push shares up significantly by 2025. However, after the stagnation with the Tesla Cybertruck and the initial boom of the Ford F-150 Lightning, the electric mood has also weakened among pick ups. General Motors and Ford, home players from the US state of Michigan, have also committed themselves to electromobility. General Motors wants to flood the volume market with electric models from Chevrolet such as the Blazer EV, Equinox EV and especially the electric Silverado, which is intended to attract pickup fans with classic design and fast charging speeds. “Chevrolet has continually revolutionized the Silverado to make it the powerhouse it is today,” said Steve Hill, Chevrolet vice president, “The Ultium platform is a critical enabler of the performance of a next-generation pickup truck, for both fleet and personal customers, whether they are currently driving a Silverado or are considering a pickup truck for the first time.”
Cadillac finally wants to become a real luxury brand worldwide – with electric assistance. The Escalade IQ is positioned even above the elegant Lyriq and with the Celestiq the car manufacturer from Detroit is somewhere in a luxury world between Bentley and Rolls-Royce – of course with every luxury imaginable and completely electric, the top model should follow in the historic footsteps of the Cadillac V16 1933 Aerodynamic Coupe and a 1957 Eldorado Brougham. Although this triumvirate will not ensure volumes, it should ensure a new electric image that will also rub off on the other brands under the General Motors umbrella. Ford is currently lagging behind because the car manufacturer from Dearborn has the F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E, two models on the road earlier than the competition, but it lacks a larger volume SUV with an electric drive based on the Explorer model.
And what about the Asians, because they dominate the US market in many segments? Most vehicles currently use traditional combustion engine technology. Toyota, Lexus, Acura and Honda rely on either petrol or hybrid models – preferably without a plug. Things look different in the Hyundai Group. Hyundai and Kia also have many hybrid versions, but the two Korean volume brands are committed to electric drives in their future models more than their Asian competitors. Even the high-end offshoot Genesis wants to score points particularly with connectors in the future.
The lack of acceptance of electric drives remains a major problem, but in particular the charging network in the USA has gigantic gaps that even electric pioneer Elon Musk was unable to close with his superchargers. So far, a solid charging infrastructure only exists on the east and west coasts and on the large interstates. Especially on weekends, there are often long waiting times at the charging stations in shopping centers because the few fast chargers are occupied by shopping families. Above all, Electrify America is working hard to expand the charging network and, in particular, to increase charging speeds. The so-called Cycle III of the National Zero Emission Plan is currently running. With an investment of $35 million, Electrify America wants to provide hyperchargers in many cities and along major traffic corridors. Not only the million-strong agglomeration of Los Angeles, but also cities such as Dallas, Detroit, Nashville and Orlando should benefit from this.