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Will 2020 Be the Year of the Electric Vehicle?

By Travis Hoium - Nov 30, 2019 at 10:33AM

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Automakers are finally taking EVs seriously.

Electric vehicles (EVs) have been the next big thing in transportation for nearly a decade, but they're still a bit player in the auto market. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, despite 63% year-over-year growth, EVs were just 2.2% of the global auto market in 2018. 

In 2020, the momentum in electric vehicles may reach a new level, and once they get rolling, they will be hard to stop. Not only is Tesla (TSLA 4.88%) expected to have another big year with Model Y deliveries expected to start, but General Motors (GM 2.19%), Kia, Hyundai, Audi (AUDVF), Porsche (POAHY 0.45%), and many more will also introduce or expand their range of EVs.

And these offerings aren't tiptoeing into the market, as we've seen in the past. There will be compelling, long-range, affordable vehicles available for customers next year. The EV market may finally be something to take seriously. 

Electric vehicle being charged.

Image source: Getty Images.

Range anxiety is almost gone

The first hindrance EVs faced was anxiety that drivers would be stranded miles from a charging station. Cross-country drives or even long road trips were once unthinkable with an electric drivetrain, especially when early vehicles had ranges of less than 100 miles. 

Range anxiety isn't completely gone, but today it shouldn't be any harder to drive an EV a long distance than a conventional vehicle. Many have ranges of over 250 miles on a single charge, and the charging infrastructure across the U.S. is accessible almost anywhere. According to German website Statista, there are 20,000 charging locations and 57,000 charging plugs across the U.S. That's still fewer than the 150,000 gas stations across the country, but remember that EVs can also be charged at home. 

With a little planning, almost any drive is possible, and that'll open up the market to once-skeptical consumers. 

Options are abundant

For years, Tesla was the only company that took EVs seriously from a real-world functionality standpoint. It had more range than competitors, better styling, and a better charging network. Chevy entered the mix with the Bolt, but sales have stagnated around 20,000 units per year and may fall in the U.S. for the second straight year in 2019, so it hasn't been the competitor some hoped it would be.

But 2020's slate of vehicles are finally ready to be taken seriously. First, the charging network for non-Teslas is arguably now better than Tesla's network, with more plugs across the country, so charging isn't a hindrance. But where competitors are really catching up is in style and range. They're finally learning from Tesla's success and introducing some compelling offerings.  

Kia is making a splash in EVs with the e-Soul, with up to 280 miles in advertised range, and the Niro (239 miles). Starting at $34,000 and $38,500, respectively, these two could attract the budget-conscious buyer. 

The Hyundai Kona Electric starts at $36,500 and is said to get 258 miles of range out of its compact hatchback design, which is competitive in styling, price, and range. 

The top end of the market is getting some very interesting options. Audi says its e-tron has 204 miles of range, and it has fairly standard SUV styling. It's not cheap, starting at $74,800, but Audi SUVs attract a well-heeled buyer to begin with, so this may add a niche to the EV market. 

The Porsche Taycan is aimed squarely at the Tesla Model S with 256 miles of range, a 0-to-60 time that can be under 3 seconds, and a starting price of $103,800. It's designed to be the most impressive sport EV on the market and could steal some of the thunder from the Model S. This is not a car for everyone, but it'll certainly bring buzz to the EV market. 

EVs are more attractive than ever

The list of EVs above is far from exhaustive, but it gives a peek at how the offerings in the market are improving. It's no longer a choice between Tesla's expensive, long-range vehicles or a short-range, poorly styled car; there are lots of options. Cars, SUVs, budget vehicles, and luxury brands are all going to be well represented in the EV market next year. 

If consumers get over their range anxiety and start to embrace the superior performance and cost-effectiveness of EVs, the market may explode in 2020 and start to take a formidable share of auto sales. 

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Stocks Mentioned

AUDI AG Stock Quote
AUDI AG
AUDVF
Porsche Automobil Holding SE Stock Quote
Porsche Automobil Holding SE
POAHY
$7.75 (0.45%) $0.04
Hyundai Motor Company Stock Quote
Hyundai Motor Company
HYMLF
General Motors Company Stock Quote
General Motors Company
GM
$35.98 (2.19%) $0.77
Tesla, Inc. Stock Quote
Tesla, Inc.
TSLA
$658.80 (4.88%) $30.64

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