10 Top EV Stories From 2012

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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:


Nissan Leaf via Thampapon / Shutterstock.com

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.

empulse r

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.

White Tesla Model S

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.”

Wireless EV charger from Evatran.

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 HertzPlugless 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).

envia ev battery breakthrough

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:

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):

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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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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