Slower companies like Stellantis, which include Ram, Jeep, and Chrysler, brands that don’t yet have all-battery vehicles, are facing additional pressure to catch up. Jeep started selling a plug-in hybrid version of its popular Wrangler this year and plans to start selling all-electric vehicles by 2023.
“The automotive industry leaders have been seeing the writing on the wall for a while when it comes to electrification and autonomous technologies,” said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds, a market researcher.
Ms. Caldwell added that the sales targets set by the Biden government and automakers “are certainly not unreasonable and most likely achievable by 2030 as automakers have already incorporated a large number of electric vehicles into their future product cycles”.
But many automakers are only just beginning to introduce electric vehicles that are designed from the ground up to run on batteries. The Mercedes-Benz EQS, an electric luxury sedan, will hit the US market this month. BMW started selling a battery-powered vehicle, the i3, eight years ago, but has been slow to follow suit. The iX, an electric SUV, will arrive at American dealers early next year.
And just because companies make electric vehicles doesn’t mean people buy them. Volkswagen started selling an electric SUV, the ID.4, this year, but in the US sales so far have only been a fraction of the company’s established models such as the Jetta or Tiguan.
By setting a clear target for electric vehicle sales, Biden is fueling the shift towards cleaner modes of transportation, but it is also unlocking forces that automakers may not be able to control.
Consumers could move to electric vehicles as they become cheaper and people realize that gasoline vehicles are at risk of becoming white elephants with falling resale values. That would put a strain on companies that, with the exception of Tesla and a few startups, still mainly produce cars with internal combustion engines.