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3p Weekend: 5 Signs 2015 Is the Year of the EV

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

We're only a few months into the year, but all signs point to 2015 being a big one for electric vehicles. Markets are slowly shifting toward EVs, and automakers have kept our news feeds buzzing with one landmark announcement after another.

While not all of these commitments will be realized this year, we're betting 2015 will be one for the history books when it comes to EV adoption. So, start your (electric) engines and read on for five trends that caught our attention.

1. Range is on the rise

When someone brings up a long-range EV, most think of Tesla vehicles. The automaker offers batteries that can go up to 270 miles on a single charge, but the long-range Model S will set you back about $80,000 -- far out of reach for most drivers.

But long-range EVs look like they're headed to the mainstream. Chevy unveiled the 2016 Volt at the Washington Auto Show in January -- which promises 50 miles of all-electric range, a 25 percent improvement from earlier Volts. It also made headlines with its Bolt EV, which could hit the market as soon as 2017. With a 200-mile electric range, the Bolt is poised to make a splash. Volkswagen and BMW are already garnering market share for their longer-range options: The Volkswagen e-Golf promises 90 miles of range, while the BMW i3 can travel up to 100 miles on a single charge and go from 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds.

2. Costs are falling, falling, falling

As range increases, the cost of EVs continues to fall -- creating a perfect storm that's poised to spur EV adoption across the country. The long-range Chevy Bolt EV will come to market at a modest $30,000 price tag, which would shatter records in terms of low cost and high range.

Meanwhile, several top automakers already offer respectable range at accessible price-points: With an all-electric range of about 75 miles, the Ford Focus Electric is priced less than $30,000, followed closely by the Volkswagen e-Golf at $35,000 and the BMW i3 at around $40,000.

3. Battery tech just keeps getting better

Better battery tech is to thank for higher ranges and lower costs. And luckily for drivers, technology just keeps getting better.

Tesla and Panasonic made headlines last year when they announced plans to build a battery 'Gigafactory' -- which promises to produce lithium-ion batteries at a rate able to support the manufacture of 500,000 electric cars per year. Tesla expects that volume manufacturing of its mass-market Model E will drive down the cost-per-kilowatt-hour of its batteries by 30 percent in the first year. As other companies commit cash to R&D in order to bring long-range, low-cost options to market, we only expect battery tech to keep improving.

4. Charging networks are expanding

Once spotty at best, and useless at worst, U.S. electric vehicle charging networks are growing fast -- and 2015 commitments will only make it easier to charge up. At the 2015 Washington Auto Show in January, Volkswagen and BMW announced an initiative to create express-charging corridors on the East and West coasts. In partnership with ChargePoint, the companies plan to complete 100 fast-charging stations on both coasts by the end of this year.

After breaking ground in 2012, the Tesla Supercharger Network now boasts more than 150 charging stations across 38 U.S. states, well surpassing the company’s initial goal to have 100 operational by 2015. Meanwhile, NRG eVgo, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, is developing a charging solution for apartment-dwellers -- long an underserved group for EV infrastructure, as they often have limited options for charging at home. The company will offer charging station installation at no cost to qualified apartment communities in California, giving renters one more reason to choose electric.

5. Automakers are going all-in

Automakers are going all-in on electric vehicles: a good sign for anyone looking to see more gas-free cars on the road. Chevy will soon bring a long-range EV to market, while BMW already has two EVs gaining in popularity. Volkswagen committed $10 million to its electric vehicle charging partnership with BMW and ChargePoint.

A top Volkswagen executive also spoke out recently about the need for federal investments to spur EV adoption. “Automakers have effectively delivered electric vehicles that can satisfy the needs of most American drivers,” Jörg Sommer, Volkswagen’s VP of product marketing and strategy, said at the 2015 Electric Drive Congress in Washington, D.C. last month. “In addition to the investment we and other companies and industries are making, we would like to see federal financing support for establishing fast-charging networks in urban areas and interstate corridors.”

So, what do you think? Will 2015 be the year of the EV? Tell us about it in the comments section! 

Image credit: Volkswagen

Mary Mazzoni is the Senior Editor of TriplePundit. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni headshotMary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni, Senior Editor, has written for TriplePundit since 2013. She is also Managing Editor of CR Magazine and the Editor of 3p’s Sponsored Series. Her recent work can be found in Conscious Company and VICE’s Motherboard. She is based in Philadelphia.

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