Published on January 11th, 2019 | by Loren McDonald0
My 24 EV Predictions For 2018 — How Did I Do?
January 11th, 2019 by Loren McDonald
“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”
— Nils Bohr, Nobel laureate in Physics
“Forecasting is the art of saying what will happen, and then explaining why it didn’t! “
— Anonymous (communicated by Balaji Rajagopalan)
Source: Famous Forecasting Quotes
Predicting the future is easy, being correct is of course much harder. One of the things that most people (including myself) dislike about those who make predictions is the lack of accountability. A prediction is made, but rarely does the forecaster report back on how they did.
On December 31, 2017, my CleanTechnica article “2 Dozen Electric Vehicle Predictions For 2018“ went live. In it I made 24 predictions about the electric vehicle market. Some commenters thought many sounded like the by-product of press releases, while others thought several were fairly bold. The truth is, there was a bit of both types.
I like to hold myself accountable, so the following are the 2 dozen predictions I made and how I fared. I’ve included two types of scores:
- A pass/fail number — Did the prediction come true?
- A numerical credit or partial credit if I got some aspect of the prediction correct.
How did I do? Well, not so good. Check out the total of my scores at the end of the article.
1. ExxonMobil and/or BP each acquire an EV charging company.
- BP acquired Chargemaster, the largest UK charging company, and BP Ventures invested $20 million into an ultra-fast-charging battery developer called StoreDot. No acquisitions by ExxonMobil yet. Related: Chevron Ventures made an investment in ChargePoint.
2. Chinese automaker GAC Motors announces it will enter the US market with an electric CUV in 2019 through a partnership with Fiat Chrysler (FCA).
- Complete miss on this one. This was a stretch to begin with.
3. Tesla unveils the Model Y CUV during its most watched live event ever and receives 500,000 reservations within 1 week.
- This was a rather obvious prediction, but one which will actually turned out to not come true. The Model Y reveal is now expected to happen in March 2019.
4. Tesla joins the chorus of solid-state battery announcements and says it will deliver a new model with solid-state batteries by 2023.
- While there has been no solid-state battery announcement from Tesla and Panasonic, and it is looking unlikely anytime soon, the battery partners have announced plans to produce a cobalt-free battery in the next few years.
5. California falls just short of reaching EV sales of 10% of new vehicle sales in the state.
- In August, California had an EV sales market share of just under 10% (9.90%). That month, California accounted for 53% of all US EV sales. In September and Q4, sales of the Tesla Model 3 ramped up and we know that a high percentage of these deliveries are in California. So I’m assuming a much higher average in the final months, but I will go with 53% for the entire year since earlier in the year was a bit lower. The California New Car Dealers Association has predicted sales for the year of just under 2 million. So if we assume 53% X 361,307 (US EV sales)/2,000,000 = 9.57%. I’m claiming it.
6. US EV sales nearly double and reach 2% of all new vehicle sales.
- Touchdown! According to my own analysis, the US reached a new EV sales market share of 2.08% in 2018.
7. Tesla wins a US Supreme Court case that permits the company to sell autos directly to consumers in all 50 states.
- I was reaching on this one, but it seemed a remote possibility. This prediction was a big miss.
8. Ford and GM announce plans for PHEV versions of one of their large SUVs and pickup trucks.
- Half right so far on this one, as in late March Ford announced the 2019 Lincoln Aviator would be available as a PHEV. No word yet on GM.
9. Fiat Chrysler (FCA) receives a significant investment from Google and partners with GAC Motors to leverage their electric drivetrains for future EVs.
- Another big stretch that did not happen.
10. US installations of EV charging stations suffer delays due to a massive shortage of electricians.
- This was less of a real prediction but more of the idea of a leading indicator. A shortage of electricians perhaps did not happen in 2018, but I still do expect it to happen in the next few years. If you thought it was hard to get a good electrician quickly today, just wait until millions of Americans per year install charging stations in their homes.
11. Several US states propose or implement new vehicle taxes and fees to prepare for a future decline in gas tax revenue.
- I thought this one was probably a slam dunk, but while lots of states talked about the need for an alternative, my Google research did not turn up a single new state alternative to the gas tax.
12. Fisker Inc. partners with Geely and shifts its focus to solid-state battery development and vehicle design.
- Fisker continues to be perplexing, with a lot of press releases and tweets from Henry Fisker, but how much real progress? While the company didn’t partner with Geely, it did get an investment from Caterpillar Ventures and does seem to be very focused on the development of solid-state batteries.
- Fail/0.5 (I’m being very generous to myself on this one with half credit)
13. BMW and Mercedes-Benz announce plans to include wireless charging in all new EV models by 2021.
- I thought this was a no-brainer based on conversations I had with industry executives, but only BMW made an announcement.
14. The US reaches 60,000 (from a current 46,944) installed public chargers.
- According to my analysis using data from the Alternative Fuels Data Center, through December 31, 2018, there were 57,324 public charging stations/outlets in the US, about 2,700 less than my target.
- Fail/0.3 (I’m being generous and giving 0.3 to myself on this one)
15. Tesla opens 50 “super” (40+ chargers) Supercharger centers/lounges worldwide.
- Apparently, I got a little too charged up on this one, with Tesla only opening 2 Supercharger locations in 2018 with 40 or more charging stations, according to Supercharge.info. And they opened zero lounges similar to the Kettleman City location.
16. GM opens a new fast-charging/showroom/food service center concept in partnership with Panera Bread (fast-casual restaurant chain) in 2 California test locations. The pilot projects also include special charging stations for Chevy Bolt drivers using the Maven ride-sharing program.
- Hmm, perhaps I was overzealous on thinking a car company might think out of the box.
- I was wrong on both counts, but I still think one or both of these predictions will come true, but probably not for another 2–3 years.
18. At least 5 more countries or cities announce plans to ban sales of internal combustion vehicles – the US will not be one of them.
- According to Wikipedia, I nailed this one with Ireland, Israel, Taiwan, Brussels, and Rome announcing bans on fossil-fuel powered vehicles. British Columbia also announced a ban, while India set a target of 25% of new vehicle registrations being zero emission vehicles by 2023.
19. The Whole Foods supermarket chain significantly expands the number of EV charging stations at its stores and makes charging free for members of the Amazon Prime program.
- Fumbled this one and should have gone with Target. Whole Foods did add several charging stations in 2018 and now has them at more than 100 of their 479 stores, but they did not expand “significantly”or connect their program with Amazon Prime membership.
20. Global sales of EVs will reach 1.75 million in 2018 and 4.75 million all time.
- Score! With estimates for China of 1 million, Europe at 375,000, Canada at 50,000, and the reported 361,000 in the US via InsideEVs, we are looking at 1,786,000 in 2018. With cumulative sales at the end of 2017 at just over 3 million units, we should eke past the 4.75 million mark. (Note: I’m not even including sales from non-Chinese Asia in the count.)
21. The Tesla Model 3 breaks multiple electric vehicle sales records, including being the first EV to sell more than 200,000 units in a single year and more than 10,000 and 20,000 in sales per month in the US.
- With global sales of 145,846, I significantly overshot on the company delivering 200,000 Model 3 units in 2018. The Model 3 did have deliveries just in the US of more than 10,000 vehicles every month since July and reached more than 20,000 in October and December.
- Fail/0.5 (Well, got this one half correct.)
22. Tesla sells more than 300,000 cars worldwide.
- Tesla delivered 245,240 units in 2018. If it had delivered the 200,000 Model 3s as predicted in #21 above, the company would have also reached 300,000 units delivered globally. But alas, another fail.
23. China EV sales nearly double to 1,000,000.
- While the final numbers are not yet in, fellow CleanTechnica contributor Jose Pontes predicted in a November article that EV sales in China would indeed reach 1 million for the year 2018.
- Pass/1 (I’m going to give myself this one before the final numbers are in).
24. A major fleet operator places an order for 1,000 Chevrolet Bolts.
- I crashed and burned on this one. I do think there is demand from fleet operators, where I whiffed was in assuming that GM would scale production to meet demand from global markets, US consumers, AND fleet operators. As an aside, Waymo did place an order for 20,000 Jaguar I-PACE EVs.
So, on a pass/fail score, I only got 6 out of 24 predictions correct, or 25% correct. In school, that would clearly be an F. As a 0.250 batting average for a professional baseball player, I could probably make a few million dollars per year in salary.
On the numerical score, where I gave myself partial credit when I got close or part of the prediction correct, I tallied an 8.3 or 34.6%. Still an F score, but as a baseball player with a 0.346 battering average, I’d be making $15–20 million per year.
I’m too old to become a ball player, so I guess I’ll have to work on sharpening my prediction pencil. But in all seriousness and in my own defense, about half of my predictions I didn’t necessarily expect to come true in 2018, but were rather predictions of things that could happen in 2018, and may happen at some point in the next few years.
So, I’ll close with my favorite quote of the last few years:
“In economics, things take longer to happen than you think they will,
and then they happen faster than you thought they could.” — Rudi Dornbusch, German economist