Why smart cities are gearing up for an electric mobility future

When EVs first appeared on showroom floors about six years ago, the adoption rate was far slower than expected. And even today, the numbers don't look all that impressive. Of the roughly 17 million cars sold in the U.S., only 1% of them are fully electric. But the sales numbers are growing and car makers are planning to build more battery electric (BEVs) — which are fully electric — and hybrid electric (HEV) cars. Many more. Council Global Lead Partner Toyota alone plans to add more than 10 new fully electric car models to its product line by the mid-2020s. Combined with other trends explained in the story below, the message to cities is clear: Yes, the future of transportation really will be electric. — Doug Peeples


Toyota recently announced it would be selling more than 10 BEV and fuel cell vehicle models by the mid-2020s. And the maker of the popular Prius hybrid also is working on improved automotive battery technologies on its own and in partnership with Council Associate Partner Panasonic.

The first of the new models will be available in China, then are expected to be gradually introduced in Japan, India, the U.S. and Europe. By roughly 2030, the company anticipates it will have sales of more than 5.5 million EVs on the road, with one million of them BEVs and fuel cell electrics.

And many other car makers are doing the same. Council Associate Partner Ford plans to have its first fully electric SUV available in 2019 and also plans to offer several new models in China, which is currently the largest EV market.

And speaking of China…
But many more EVs on showroom floors isn't the only reason cities should be preparing for an electric mobility future. Several countries are working toward banning gasoline and diesel-powered cars and China is one of them, along with the UK, India, Norway and others, according to a CNN Money article. Norway's plan is one of the most straightforward: as of 2025 all cars and vans sold in the country will be required to be zero-emission vehicles. And others have EV timelines and sales quotas. While there is no federal mandate in the U.S. regarding EV sales, the article noted that at least eight states do.

And one more thing…
As readers know we've published several articles on self-driving cars and the expectation that they are to be how we travel in our cities in the future, whether it's a personal vehicle, a bus or a taxi. There are differences of opinion about when that will happen, but the hotter debate is whether the majority of those self-driving vehicles will be hybrids like Toyota's Prius or fully electric.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.