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Sony Vision S 02 and Vision S 01 concepts. Image courtesy of Sony.

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The Electric Car Year In Preview: 2023

Is 2023 the year of the electric car? Multiple experts think it is. Here at CleanTechnica we agree — this is the year EVs go mainstream.

Everyone and their brother is writing 2022 Year In Review stories. Sitting around the hydrogen-fueled fire pit at CleanTechnica’s mountain top aerie with a view of Katmandu, Zachary and the usual gang of idiots got to thinking we should do a year in preview article that focuses on where we expect the electric car revolution to go in the coming year. So we decided to do a sit and schvitz in the CleanTechnica sauna, which is heated by geothermal energy. After about 20 minutes of that foolishness, we came up with the following.

The Electric Car Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell made the phrase “tipping point” part of popular culture with his book entitled, appropriately enough, The Tipping Point — How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference. He defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point” and suggests that “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.”

Electric car sales accounted for 5.6% of all new vehicles sold in the US in 2022, according to Kelley Blue Book. Pondering that information, CNN Business says, “That may not sound like a lot, but as recently as 2019 that figure was just 1.4%. Based on the experience in other global markets — particularly Norway — 5% market share seems to be an important tipping point for wider adoption according to Bloomberg NEF researcher Corey Cantor. Other markets, such as China and Europe overall, have shown similar trends.

“It’s unclear exactly why 5% seems to mark the point where EV sales really take off. It could be that it is the level at which something begins to seem normal. The overall US market share for Hyundai, for example, is about the same as the market share for electric vehicles, according to Cox Automotive, and buying a Hyundai doesn’t seem like anything weird or unusual. It’s getting to be the same for electric vehicles: It’s no longer uncommon to see them on the roads, which makes it easier to consider getting one.”

We have been making this argument for years. The more people start driving electric cars, the more normal they will seem. Even commercial vehicles may contribute to the trend. After all, when those Amazon and UPS drivers get done driving electric delivery vehicles all day, they may find the clatter and whine of the internal combustion car they drove to work is not so agreeable to their ears. They may discover that regenerative braking really does make driving more enjoyable and less stressful. And they may tell their friends and family that no, actually, they didn’t run our of battery power and need to get towed.

Some people describe it a little differently. Instead of talking about tipping points, they refer to something known as the S Curve — a logarithmic graph that reflects change over time. The early stage is nearly flat as a few intrepid early adopters try something new — a microwave, cell phone, or electric car, for example. In the second stage, growth rises rapidly as public acceptance of a new idea takes hold. That’s where CNN thinks the market for electric cars is now.

The folks at Autoblog agree. “Nearly every automaker, be it a legacy OEM or a startup, unveiled a slew of impressive EVs for the 2023 market. Most of them were geared toward the luxury consumer, though. In the next year, we’ll see even more new models come out that are priced much more affordably. In addition, expect the sheer number of new EVs on the market to pick up as new factories come online. McKinsey predicts legacy automakers and EV startups will produce up to 400 new models by 2023.”

The Software-Defined Electric Cars Are Coming

“Software-defined vehicle” is a concept that Autoblog says we will see more of in 2023. General Motors will launch Ultifi, its end-to-end vehicle software platform that promises over the air software updates, cloud connectivity, and vehicle-to-everything communication. Ultifi will allow drivers to purchase apps, services and features. It’s an example of how automakers are trying to cater to individual needs and increase subscription-based services in the car, says Will White, co-founder of Mapbox, a provider of online maps. “We’ll continue to see high demand for convenience based services like in-car payments, where consumers will have a credit card on file in their app that pays for everything automotive related.”

Jaguar Land Rover, Nio, Polestar, Volvo, and XPeng have announced plans to build software-defined vehicles on Nvidia’s Drive Orin system-on-a-chip. In 2023, automakers will also rely on the Nvidia Omniverse platform, which will revolutionize everything from designing vehicles to the automotive product cycle. It will allow automakers to build digital twins of both their vehicles and their production facilities in order to simulate anything from software upgrades within the vehicle to crash tests to factory efficiencies.

Electric Car Predictions From Forbes

The people at Forbes predict this is the year Tesla might actually release a version of its Full Self Driving that actually performs as advertised. [Don’t hold your breath, people.] Their prediction last year that a $25,000 car from Tesla was coming failed to materialize. It won’t happen in 2023 either, they say now.

But what they are quite sure of is that electric car models from Asia are coming — soon! Go to Norway, it says, where cars from BYD are thick on the ground. Chinese car companies like MG see EVs as a way to crack the Western automotive market once and for all. The BYD Atto 3 is also popular in other countries, like Australia.

Hyundai Motor Group already has some great electric cars – such as the Hyundai Kona EV, Ioniq 5, Kia Niro EV, Kia Soul EV, and Kia EV6. Then there is the Genesis GV60, GV70 Electrified, and Electrified G80. But much more is coming in 2023, such as the audacious Ioniq 6 and the revolutionary Ioniq 7, according to Forbes.

“The EV revolution is a story of disruption,” Forbes says. “But it’s not just a change in what powers the wheels. It is potentially resetting the entire auto market. The EV will inevitably become the same price and then cheaper than internal combustion, even if it might not be a $25,000 Tesla and not in 2023. But expect to see quite a few new brands you haven’t seen before arriving in earnest in 2023 as EVs. It’s going to be a great year.”

The CleanTechnica View On 2023

Peering into our crystal ball, we here at CleanTechnica have a few predictions of our own. First, we are eagerly anticipating a surge in electric car sales in the first quarter as the federal EV tax credit kicks in, particularly for less expensive cars like the Chevy Bolt/EUV twins. Our only hope is that GM has enough production capacity to meet the demand. Second, we expect the tidal wave of money available from the federal government to expand America’s charging infrastructure will finally make people forget about range anxiety and start enjoying driving on electrons instead of molecules.

Tipping points, S Curves — they both send the same message. The electric car era is here, at long last. When the history books are written, 2023 is the year they will say the EV revolution was won.

 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?

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