EV Confidence

There is little reason to lose confidence in the overall trajectory of electric vehicles.

A Porsche Taycan drifting in the snow. (Porsche)

Anti-EV voices are having their day. It’s easier than ever to find people pointing out ongoing charging infrastructure problems or a notable decline in EV sales. The criticisms are valid and the challenges are real. Recent rosy predictions are easy to find and dismiss, such as GM’s statement in late 2022 that it would be able to produce more than a million EVs a year in North America by 2025. In 2023, GM sold around 75,000 EVs in the U.S. You can see how those numbers make for easy targets for naysayers.

I’m not saying there aren’t problems looming in our EV future. There are. Sales will rise and fall during the shift to EVs. Some people will love their EVs, while others try the models available today and realize they’d rather have an ICE or PHEV. And don’t get me started on charging infrastructure.

EVs are not for everyone. Not yet, anyway. But despite the headlines, there’s no reason to lose confidence in the overall EV trajectory that’s been underway for the last dozen years or so. We should pay reasonable attention to worrying headlines – even more so to the underlying facts and figures — but we can’t let them distract from what’s actually happening in the industry. Just ask the engineers and development teams busy working on the constant and impressive technological improvements. Magna’s improved e-motor or NACS’ rapid acceptance by the industry, to cite two examples from this issue. You’ll find much more in our ongoing daily reporting at sae.org. This month — and every month — our pages are full of proof that the EV transition won’t be stopped. Delayed? Sure. Different than expected? Obviously. Denied? No way. I’m confident about that.

I’ve been test-driving EVs for more than 15 years, but it was only a year ago that I finally purchased my own. Living with an EV opens up a world of new possibilities, as well as new problems. But one of the changes I didn’t fully expect was another variation on the idea of confidence. The simplicity of my Chevy Bolt EV created a subtle but important change in how I feel behind the wheel every day. An internal-combustion engine will still move a car, obviously, but everyday drivers in everyday situations can feel more confident in an EV. Driving an EV gives you confidence that it will dart where you want it to dart. The instant torque, the ease with which you can pass an average ICE vehicle, can be revolutionary. When you live with it every day, something shifts inside.

Advocates have long called initial reactions to this power the “EV grin,” and it’s an important factor in the EV discussion. This is especially true for younger people who might be entering their driving lives with equal exposure to gas and electrons as a power source. Along with learning the rules of the road, driver’s training programs work to instill a sense of confidence in new drivers. EVs can provide them that confidence sooner and more reliably. We’ll see how that all plays out, but you can guess by now what I’m confident will happen.

A separate note: After my first editorial as EIC was published in the December 2023 issue, a reader responded with some kind words. Polite, direct feedback – positive or otherwise – is absolutely appreciated. If you’ve got something to share, my email’s open. I’m confident it will be a good discussion.