The Future of Electric Vehicles is in Longer Ranges, and Self-Driving Taxis.

Dear Reader,

We’re half way through 2016 and the electric vehicle forecast for 2017 keeps getting brighter.

There are quite a few new plug-in hybrid electric cars coming out this year with improved electric range. Among these is the Ford Fusion Energi, with an improved EV-only range of 22 miles and a combined range of 610 miles.  It also has an improved combined fuel economy of 42 mpg, with prices starting at $31,995.  

Other EV options becoming available are plug-in hybrid versions of the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, and the Toyota Prius Prime. The new Fusion Energi is already on sale, and the Prius Prime will be on sale late this year (as promised). These vehicles join the 2016 Chevy Volt in the plug-in hybrid segment.   

Not only do we have more plug-in electric and hybrid options available for personal travel, but we could have for public transportation as well if rumors prove true. General Motors and Lyft have partnered to start testing self-driving, electric taxis, according to The Wall Street Journal. The car of choice for this project is reported to be none other than the Chevrolet Bolt. A futuristic transportation system like this one could reduce pollution per mile by as much as 94 percent, according to a Nature Climate Change paper in 2015.

Although electric vehicles are further behind as a sector than, say, renewable energy sources like wind and solar, the industry is growing and looking hopeful. As of 2015, the number of electric cars on the road passed the one million mark globally (Carbon Brief, June 6, 2016).

While all of these developments are promising for the future of the electric vehicle industry, we still need good policies and city planning to encourage more electric vehicles on the roads. Bold plans like the one currently proposed in Ontario, and continued commitments to strong fuel economy standards (see articles below), will be essential to ensuring a bright electric auto future. 

Until next time, 
Charles GriffithCharles Griffith
Climate and Energy Program Director 
Ecology Center