Tighter emissions rules in China and Europe leave global carmakers and some consumers with little choice but to embrace plug-in vehicles, fuelling an investment surge.
The feeling is that in the next five years in Europe will see a focus on electric, hybrid, connected and self-driving cars.
In Europe, green cars benefit increasingly from subsidies, tax breaks and other perks, while combustion engines face mounting penalties including driving and parking restrictions.
China, is aggressively pushing plug-in vehicles. Its carrot-and-stick approach combines tens of billions in investment and research funding with subsidies, and regulations designed to discourage driving fossil-fuelled cars in big cities.
However while regulators in California and a group of other U.S. states are pushing ahead with state-level rules mandating rising quotas for electric, or “zero emission” vehicles. But plug-in registrations in the United States fell in 2015, and the market share of electric-only vehicles declined further to 0.37 percent in 2016.
This was caused by cheap fuel drove demand for gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.
President Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump has promised pledged to roll back environmental and climate rules to help out his chums in Big Oil and Big Cars.
Automakers have also asked Trump to work toward a single, national set of rules to govern automotive greenhouse gas emissions, a move that could spark legal challenges to electric car quotas in California and other states on grounds they present a separate standard.
Some car makers have worked out though that will not really solve anything. Ford is moving forward with previously announced plans to invest $4.5 billion for plug-in vehicles by 2020.
Chief Executive Mark Fields said that the industry is changing, the infrastructure’s starting to build, and that’s why our view is (that) within the next 15 years we’ll see more electrified offerings … than we’ll see gasoline-powered.
He recently unveiled a $700 million plan to build a battery SUV and other plug-in vehicles in Flat Rock, Michigan.
But to shift to electric, carmakers say they need more help from governments. While this is happening in China and Europe it is unlikely to come as Trump drags US industry kicking and screaming to the 1970s.
In China, Europe and the United States, automakers want new infrastructure money go to public electric car charging networks.
China will be a good place for car makers to sell electric cars, if Trump does not start a trade war.