2017 sparked wave of electrification advances

2017 Chevy Bolt

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s incredible to look back on everything that happened to the electric vehicle market in just one year. Even though electric vehicles still make up just a sliver of the market, the past year has undeniably been a turning point for electrification, and the world is charging ahead with no intention of looking back. A sure sign of this came just this week when after a period of uncertainty, Congress confirmed that the EV tax credit would be preserved in the new tax bill.

That’s a great way to round out a year which has seen the Chevy Bolt EV rocket ahead in sales, coming in just second behind the Tesla Model S, which competes in a different market segment. It comes as no surprise that the Bolt was a highlight of the year, as General Motors has been one of the leading change agents in the EV space. If Michiganders didn’t have reason to be proud of the Detroit automaker before, they do now. Not only has GM beat Tesla to the low price, high range market with the Bolt, but they’ve also announced plans for 20 new EVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2023, including the launch of a new EV platform in 2021 that will reduce costs while increasing both range and variety. Thanks to GM, we will see everything from self-driving crossovers to large luxury electric SUVs in the very near future. The company believes it will sell 1 million EVs annually by 2026.

GM CEO Mary Barra continues to bring ambitious plans and lively competition to the EV market, and her efforts have not just kept Michigan in the race, but launched the state into direct competition with Tesla over the course of the year. It would be nice to see similarly aggressive efforts toward electrification from Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Hopefully, some New Year’s resolutions are in the works.

In light of the healthy competition between GM and Tesla, as well as a growing Chinese EV market, a worldwide focus on combating climate change and glowing reviews for the instant torque and durability of EV engines, 2017 is the year that points us toward a bright and strange electric future. As the Washington Post sees it, we can expect a cleaner environment, lower maintenance costs, gas stations to become sites of hospitality, and the EVs to improve the performance of the power grid. 2017 was a turbulent year, but as far as EVs are concerned, we are coming out the other side pointed toward a bright future.

In other stories to close out the year, Michigan has a unique opportunity to improve public health by investing in electric school buses, demand for electrified semi-trucks has emerged with a new offering from Tesla, Ford announces a new plug-in for the police market, and GM offers test rides for the second generation, self-driving Bolt.

Until next time, 

 
 
Charles GriffithCharles Griffith
Climate and Energy Program Director 
Ecology Center