What would Henry Ford think if he saw that his company makes electric vehicles (EVs)? What about autonomous cars?
These innovations are quickly rising in the automotive industry. The days of gasoline-powered vehicles are rapidly ending as manufacturers invest heavily in the adoption of EVs.
So, when can you expect roads full of EVs instead of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles? When will society see self-driving cars occupying the streets?
This article outlines why the adoption of EVs and autonomous vehicles will increase in the next several years:
Is the Adoption of EVs Increasing?
Going electric is no longer a trend that comes and goes in the automotive landscape — it’s become the norm and the future.
In 2022, the EV market grew 65% compared to the previous year. Supply chain issues have adversely affected the automobile market, but EVs are rising in their share.
Worldwide, people purchased 7.8 million EVs, and the EV market is only growing. With each year, EVs will be more prominent on the streets.
This video by The Electric Viking details how EV adoption can benefit US households:
EV adoption is growing, but there is still a long way to go before they become the majority in your local neighborhoods. ICE vehicles have been around for over a century, so it will take a long time before you stop seeing them on the road.
In fact, gas-powered cars occupy over 90% of the current automobile market. But there are already some great EVs that are easily accessible for consumers, and more automakers are rapidly switching to EVs, so expect the tide to turn later this century.
Which Automakers Are Electrifying the Fastest?
At the turn of the century, only a few companies made EVs. In the 2000s, Toyota and Tesla were the primary automakers adopting EVs for public purchase.
But now the tide is turning quickly. Nearly every automaker sees the writing on the wall — EVs are the way of the future.
Consumers want them, and governing bodies have plans to ban ICE sales. The following manufacturers have set ambitious goals to switch to EVs in the past few years.
Of the manufacturers worldwide, Mercedes-Benz is leading the way when it comes to the adoption of EVs. The German automaker has set 2025 as the mark for all its new vehicles to be fully electric. Mercedes is investing nearly $50 billion this decade to produce EVs. By 2030, the company will only sell electric cars, though it did say market conditions will impact decisions.
Volvo is another European automaker with lofty goals. The Swedish company is phasing out gas-powered vehicles and going fully electric by 2030. In the short term, Volvo wants its fleet to be half hybrids and half fully electric cars by 2025. These European automakers are moving quickly due to European Union (EU) regulations. Starting in 2035, the EU will ban the sale of ICE vehicles.
The government hasn’t banned ICE cars In the United States, but there is still a push to move to EVs, starting with General Motors (GM). GM is a major American automaker, and it’s heavily investing in EV adoption. By 2040, GM seeks to attain carbon neutrality. In the short term, GM aims to produce a million battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2025.
Under the GM wing, Chevrolet is making significant changes to its popular models. For example, the bowtie brand is ending longtime favorites like the Camaro. Instead, Chevy plans to unveil electric versions of the Silverado, Camaro, Corvette, and more.
Why Are EVs Becoming More Popular?
The future of the automotive industry is electric. If you’ve never driven one, you likely will at some point. Manufacturers are making the switch to the adoption of EVs for a few reasons, including:
- Environmental impact: The top benefit of EVs is their environmental impact. The cars run on battery-powered engines, so there are no tailpipe emissions. The automotive sector is guilty of annual carbon dioxide emissions, so producing EVs cuts that number down dramatically.
- Consumer desire: Consumer opinion on sustainability has shifted dramatically in recent years. Environmental consciousness used to be a nice addition for customers. But now, it’s something customers expect. Millennials and Gen Z consumers occupy a larger share of the market. These generations require sustainability, and one way they can achieve it is through EVs.
- Less maintenance: One factor many car customers consider is the maintenance cost of EVs. An ICE vehicle requires more attention because its engine is complex. But a BEV needs little maintenance in comparison. You’ll still need to maintain the AC and brake systems, but you won’t have to worry about changing the oil.
How Far Along Are Autonomous Vehicles in 2023?
The adoption of EVs is quickly taking over the automotive industry. But there is another sector of automobiles you should keep your eye on. Researchers have worked hard to develop self-driving vehicles in the past couple of decades.
These machines are a symbol of how the world is inching toward autonomy. Generally speaking, machines can make intelligent decisions and react more quickly than a human can. But does this notion work with cars?
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has outlined six levels of vehicle autonomy:
Zero is the first level, including automation features like momentary assistance and warnings.
Level 3 is the first where the machine can operate alone without an engaged human. Still, a human may be required to take control in some circumstances. Level 5 includes full autonomy, where the car operates by itself.
Currently, the highest street-legal autonomous vehicle in the United States is at Level 2. These cars have some self-driving capabilities. For example, they can assist with steering, braking, and acceleration. The primary features of Level 2 vehicles are adaptive cruise control and lane centering.
Will Fully Autonomous Vehicles Hit the Road?
There is a path forward for self-driving cars to reach Level 3 and higher. In 2022, Mercedes-Benz unveiled DRIVE PILOT. This feature was a landmark for autonomous driving because it received the green light in Germany last year.
The DRIVE PILOT is in Mercedes models like the S-Class and EQS. However, it’s not on the Autobahn yet. The German government only permits these vehicles to operate at 60 km/h or 37 mph.
The DRIVE PILOT feature is allowed in Germany, but there’s still work to do before it gets authorization elsewhere. Each country has different standards for autonomous vehicles. So it could be a while before Mercedes can sell the car worldwide.
In the United States, there is minimal federal guidance on self-driving cars. The states decide on authorization for the SAE levels. In early January, Mercedes-Benz announced Nevada granted it certification for Level 3 vehicles. These cars are only allowed in that state, but expansion to others should soon follow.
Level 3 vehicles are closer to becoming a reality. But this autonomous level still requires humans to operate the car when it requests. Some ask if cars will ever reach Levels 4 and 5 of autonomy.
The future is hard to predict, but there is hope. You’ll likely see Level 4 vehicles begin with rideshare companies and taxicabs. For example, Cruise recently debuted driverless taxis in San Francisco.
The Adoption of EVs and Autonomous Vehicles: Looking Toward the Future
EVs are a sign of the near future. Manufacturers worldwide are switching to EVs because of consumer demands, government regulations, and reduced maintenance costs. EV adoption may be expensive now, but it’s likely to drop in price.
In the long run, autonomous vehicles are likely to become more mainstream. Mercedes-Benz has figured out Level 3 autonomy and received the green light in Germany and Nevada. Will they expand to other locations? The future is bright for these cars.
About the Author
Oscar Collins is the editor-in-chief at Modded, where he writes about cars, auto news, and similar topics. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Are EVs Becoming More Popular?
EV adoption is becoming more popular for a few reasons. First, consumers see them as a way to combat climate change. They have no tailpipe emissions, so drivers won’t worry about their carbon footprint. Also, EVs are generally cheaper for owners to manage. Over the long run, they can be more affordable than an ICE vehicle. Read the full guide to learn more about the adoption of Evs and autonomous vehicles.
Are Autonomous Vehicles Safer?
At their peak capabilities, autonomous vehicles can be safer than humans. These machines won’t suffer from distractions like cell phones or other humans in the car. However, developers still have a ways to go before developing a fully autonomous vehicle safer than the average human. Read the full guide to learn more about the adoption of Evs and autonomous vehicles.
Are Self-Driving Cars Better for the Environment?
Autonomous vehicles are better for the environment because of their fuel efficiency. Self-driving machines are slightly better than the average human at saving gas. A 2021 study found adaptive cruise control mode increased fuel efficiency by about 5%. Read the full guide to learn more about the adoption of Evs and autonomous vehicles.
Are EVs Good in Cold Weather?
One drawback of EVs is their performance in cold weather. Low temperatures force the battery to work harder. Thus, it runs through its charge more quickly. You’ll have a reduced range compared to a full charge in the other seasons. Some use battery heaters or leave their EV plugged in overnight. Read the full guide to learn more about the adoption of Evs and autonomous vehicles.
What is the Autonomous and EV Adoption trend in the 2020s?
Some trends come and go, but electric and autonomous cars are here to stay. In fact, their markets are only growing larger. Technological advancements aim to make life easier, and EVs and self-driving vehicles achieve that goal. Read the full guide to learn more about the adoption of Evs and autonomous vehicles.
References and Useful Sources
NPR: Giving Up Gas-powered Cars was a Fringe Idea. It’s Now on its Way to Reality
IEEE Xplore: An Automated Vehicle Fuel Economy Benefits Evaluation Framework
Society of Automotive Engineers: SAE Levels of Driving Automation™ Refined for Clarity
Forbes: Testing (And Trusting) Mercedes-Benz Level 3 Drive Pilot In Germany