2012 has been a pretty notable year for electric vehicles. For one, more EVs have been sold this year than in any year in history — but that’s rather expected, isn’t it? Beyond that fact, which will likely be repeated for many years to come, let’s have a quick look at some of the other top EV stories of the year.
10. Recording-breaking year: Well, let’s start with the point above. Over 47,500 EVs have been sold in the US this year, the most ever in a single year. Furthermore, November sales were the highest for any month to date, yet another sign of where we’re headed. Also, globally, alternative fuel vehicles had a record year: “sales are up an astounding 73%, with nearly 440,000 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electrics sold thus far this year.” There were a number of more fanciful records set as well:
- Fisker set a record for highest number of single-brand EVs being charged simultaneously.
- An electric airplane set a speed record.
- An EV set the world record for lowest road-worthy car.
- A Nissan Leaf set a backwards driving record.
- A Renault Zoe EV set a 24-hour EV distance record.
- Spiderman set a quarter-mile speed record on an electric motorcycle.
9. Nissan: struggling, under pressure, but still ambitious. Nissan is far off its Leaf sales targets and is facing a lot of criticism (not to mention financial struggles) from it, but the pure-electric (for the masses) pioneer still opened an EV battery manufacturing plant in Tennessee, and it’s hopeful that it will have a bright EV future despite a less than ideal 2012.
8. Electric Motorcycles — Represent! Does anyone still use that line? Anyway, some top electric motorcycle companies had some things to celebrate this year. Zero Motorcycles (an electric motorcycle company) sold more electric motorcycles in January than in all of 2011! It also announced a new model, the FX. Additionally, Brammo delivered its first electric Empulse motorcycle.
7. Chevy Volt: Winning! For the second year in a row, a higher percentage of Chevy Volt owners said they’d buy the car again than owners of any other car on the market (US). 92% of them said so. Meanwhile, the Volt dominated EV/hybrid sales throughout the year. It sold 20,828 vehicles January through November, 239.1% more than the same period last year. That’s a lot more than the 8,330 Nissan Leafs sold through November and the 11,389 Prius PHEVs. This is all after a concerning start in which conservative Bob Lutz had to fight back the anti-EV conservative crowd on FOX News.
6. Tesla: Winning! Tesla’s new Model S won Motor Trend‘s “Car of the Year” award. In other words, some of the top car journalists in the world consider the Model S the top car around (of any type). The EV maker, which has almost rockstar status, also announced it is taking aim at the European market, with a new factory in the Netherlands and its European pricing plan announced. The pioneering EV company also happened to win a lawsuit regarding its unique, Apple-like dealership approach.
5. The Ford C-Max Hybrid starts strong. The hybrid electric vehicle broke the hybrid launch sales record this year. “For October and November, the all-new Ford C-Max sold 8,030 units, making it the highest-selling hybrid vehicle ever in the first two months. The sales significantly surpassed the 7,300 Camry Hybrids that Toyota sold in that car’s first two months on the market, back in May and June of 2006. Ford also calculates that C-Max sales are moving three times faster than combined results from the first hybrids on the US market – the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight – which were launched in 2000.”
4. Wireless charging really becoming something. Raleigh, NC announced that it would become the first US city to join the Apollo Program, a wireless EV charging trial program, and Sacramento announced it was joining the program around the same time. We’ve also seen a wireless electric bus developed by Utah State University, and the UK city of Milton Keynes is going the wireless route. Additionally, after some trialling with Google, the LA Dept of Water & Power, and Hertz, Plugless Power now offers consumers wireless EV charging for the Leaf and Volt (and probably other cars), while Momentum Dynamics is also looking to get into the game. Plus, there’s continuous news of folks trying to bring us roads that wirelessly power our cars (and even much more).
3b. Batteries, batteries, batteries. It’s no secret, everyone is hoping for batteries to improve a lot in order for EVs to really take off, and there are a ton of scientists working to make it happen. Here are some of the bigger EV battery headlines from the past year:
- Limiting Factor In Electric Car Batteries Discovered, New Finding Could Lead To Longer Lasting Batteries
- Toyota Pursues Magnesium-Ion Batteries Due To Breakthrough
- Hail, Caesar! New JCESR Projects Aims For Revolution In EV Battery Research
- Researchers Show Feasibility Of Lithium-Metal Free Anode For Lithium-Air Batteries
- New Silicon Batteries Outperform Typical Li-ion Chemistries
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory & CalCEF Team Up to Boost Battery Industry in California
- EV Battery Prices Fell 14% in Last Year
- Envia EV Battery — Potential Breakthrough
- IBM Working on EV Battery with 500-Mile Range
3a. EVs aren’t just driving machines. I think one of the most underrated things about electric vehicles (in consumer minds) is what they offer beyond transportation, largely because of their batteries. EV batteries can save lives, mostly because the batteries can help create microgrids that can serve many critical purposes. Victims of Hurricane sandy even used their cars to power their many electronic needs when the power went out for an extended period of time. And here’s something I expect to see much more of in 2013 and 2014: IBM, Honda, and PG&E in 2012 launched a pilot project to experiment with communication between EVs and the grid.
2. EVs can now save you big money. The price of EVs is at such a level now that many of you can save thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of an EV if you purchase one instead of a comparable ICE vehicle. In some cases, you could be saving money after just 1 or 2 years. Seriously, just do the math.
1. Tons of new EVs. Perhaps most importantly, there have been many entries into the EV market this year, and many announced EVs that will soon be hitting the market. This includes the following (and probably more):
- BMW i3 (pure EV — next year?)
- BMW i8 (pure EV — next year?)
- Fiat 500e (pure EV)
- Scion iQ EV (pure EV)
- Chevy Spark EV (pure EV)
- Porsche Cayenne (PHEV)
- Renault Zoe EV (pure EV)
- Honda Accord EV (PHEV)
- Ford Fusion Energi (PHEV)
- Mitsubishi i (pure EV)
- F12 e Sport (pure EV)
- Nissan Evalia (pure EV van — Europe only)
- EL Lada (pure EV — Russia only)
- Great Wall Motors Haval-e (hybrid electric SUV — China only)
- Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive (pure EV)
- Smart ForTwo EV (pure EV)
- Toyota RAV4 EV (pure EV)
- Ford C-Max Energi (PHEV)
- Honda Fit EV (pure EV)
- CODA (pure EV)
- Ford Focus Electric (pure EV)
- Tesla Model S (pure EV)
- Tesla Model X (pure electric SUV — next year?)
- Via Motors trucks and vans (PHEVs)
- SIM-WIL (pure EV — may be coming in next year)
- Exagon Furtive eGT (pure EV — should be coming next year)
- Cadillac ELR (PHEV — should be coming next year)
- Fisker Atlantic (PHEV — should be coming next year)
- Electric DeLorean (pure EV — should be coming next year)
- Brammo Empulse (electric motorcycle)
- Zero FX (electric motorcycle)
- VX-1 Li & VX-1 Li+ (electric scooters — Japan only)
- Scoot (pure electric scooter network)
As a clear indication of the rise of EVs, these cleaner vehicles dominated the EPA’s recently released list of the most fuel efficient cars on the market. Well,… all 10 cars were EVs of some sort.
A few honorable mentions that didn’t make the list include: the proliferation of home EV chargers, including 30 now being sold on Home Depot’s website; GE’s big purchase of 2,000 EVs and its plans to buy more in years to come; the rise of EV taxi fleets (including EV scooter taxis); 8 top automakers agreeing on standardized EV charging details and a fast-charging EV charger standard being set by the SAE; Blink’s 1-million-charge milestone; the Union of Concerned Scientists releasing of a landmark report showing that EVs are indeed better for the environment and save you a ton on fuel; Mitsubishi announcing that it would offer a plug-in electric version of every one of its models within 4 years; the largest EV fast-charging network in the US getting rolled out and the West Coast EV highway getting started; the Pope going electric; the growth of EV carsharing; tons of new EV smartphone apps;… oh, and I became a full-hearted fan of EVs.
Any other stories to add?
Other 2012 summary posts:
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