Thought Leadership

Nothing Can Slow the Automotive Industry’s Steady March Toward Electrification

July 14, 2021
Escalent | Nothing Can Slow the Automotive Industry’s Steady March Toward Electrification

Not Even COVID-19 or a Global Semiconductor Shortage

In March 2020, the world began to grapple with the notion that life would be majorly disrupted as the deadly and devastating COVID-19 pandemic set in. For the automotive industry, two threats loomed large: a years-long sales plateau finally giving way to a significant retraction—exacerbated by a pandemic-fueled demand crash—and the impact of that revenue loss on the development of future vehicles and tech, including electrification.

When we conducted this year’s EVForward Segmentation and built our Market Profile report, we found consumers’ views of EVs do not reflect those fears:

  • Favorable sentiments regarding battery electric vehicles (BEVs), in particular, have grown. Nearly 40% of our respondents indicate a very positive outlook regarding BEVs compared with just 33% a year ago. In total, 86% of respondents view their outlook of BEVs as positive.
  • Further, negative attitudes toward BEVs have remained flat or declined compared with last year.
  • Critically, these shifts are consistent across all age, region, gender and vehicle ownership segments.

As we know, what consumers think and what they do don’t always line up. In this case, however, car shoppers are sending strong signals to automakers with their wallets, too.

Despite facing a slump in the immediate wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, electric vehicle sales have rebounded to outpace pre-shutdown levels by a wide margin. In December 2020 and March 2021, sales for all EVs (hybrid, plug-in and battery) in the United States eclipsed the 100,000-unit mark for the first and second times, respectively. Prior to the pandemic, the highest-sales months did not even reach 80,000 units, according to Argonne National Laboratory.

What does the road ahead look like? Well, Ford seems to know. The Michigan-based behemoth’s electric crossover, branded the Mustang Mach-E, outsold its iconic, gas-powered sports car brother in June 2021. What’s more is the company registered 100,000 Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck pre-orders within two weeks of its reveal. Competitors should take notice—Ford is building appealing cars that happen to be electrified and it’s winning over consumers.

Despite the challenges of the past year and the ones we face ahead, consumers have sent a clear message. Automakers that continue to treat electric vehicles as the product of tomorrow—regardless of the state of the economy—will be left behind.

To learn more about the next generation of electric vehicle buyers, send a note to the Escalent Automotive & Mobility team today.

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Mike Dovorany

Mike is a former vice president with Escalent's Automotive & Mobility practice.