Electric vehicles may be about to enter a golden age. The world’s major automakers are all gearing up to challenge Tesla’s dominance in the space. Kim Parlee speaks with Petrina Gentile, automotive journalist and contributor to the Globe and Mail, about some of the models about to hit the road.
- Petrina, it's great to have you with us. Can I ask you just, I guess, to start things off, are we hitting some sort of inflection point when it comes to adoption, like we're starting to get some momentum here?
- There's a little bit of momentum. But there's still a long way to go. Because when you look at global sales last year of electric vehicles, they only accounted for 3% of all new car sales. And in Canada, that number's even lower. So people are slowly adopting. But it's going to take some time.
What you're seeing, though, are the manufacturers really stepping up and making these bold promises, manufacturers like GM, that is basically saying, we're not going to build any gas cars by 2035. And they plan to invest, like, $27 billion in 30 electric vehicles by 2025.
Now, it's very ambitious. And I applaud them. But at the same time, that's a really challenging goal to set. And GM tends to have a history of maybe overpromising and under delivering. Because as you know, it's not just about building these vehicles and selling them. It's the consumer adoption. It's the lack of infrastructure. It's the price premium that you pay for these electric vehicles. There are a lot of challenges that really need to come into place before we can see a lot more electric vehicles on the road.
Yeah, and I guess that ambitious side came out also in the Super Bowl. We saw all sorts of ads flying across the screen-- I mean, again, Ford, Toyota, Cadillac EV ads was my favorite. But can you give us a sense of just how much the major car companies are-- you mentioned some of the numbers-- but how much they're investing to really get things going?
- Oh, my gosh, and just think about those commercials, though, Kim. I mean, just that spot alone, a 30-second spot, on electric vehicle is over, like, $5.5 million US. So they're paying money into this, into promoting it.
But you know what's interesting, I find, in terms of the money that they're putting in is Ontario. In Canada, it is emerging as a hot spot for EV manufacturing. So you have the federal government, provincial government, and you have the manufacturers pouring in a lot of money. Ford, for example, is actually putting in $2 billion in their Oakville Assembly plant to retool it so they can build five new electric vehicles.
General Motors as well, they're actually retooling their Ingersoll plant where they build the Chevy Equinox. They're putting $1 billion into it to build electric delivery vans. And FedEx is already onboard with this as one of their customers. So a lot of manufacturers are putting in all this money in manufacturing these electric vehicles. And Ontario, like I say, is the hot spot. Because these plants, these two in particular, will be two of the largest ones for producing electric vehicles in North America.
Hm. It's exciting. It's nice to see that that's going to be happening in Canada and in Ontario.
Let's get to what my favorite part is, a bit of show and tell. I know you always like to bring pictures and tell us about what you're seeing right now.
So I've got some names. Let me run through them. Ford is using the iconic Mustang name to bring out its new SUV. Tell us about this one.
Right, this is the Mustang Mach-E. And it doesn't really look like a traditional Mustang, maybe in that long hood and then in the headlights. But this is an all-electric vehicle, Ford's first all-electric SUV. It seats five people. And they say it can have a range, if you get the high-performance version, of up to 475 kilometers. And that high performance version also has, like, 480 horsepower. It can go zero to 100 in about four seconds.
And then it's loaded with lots of technology. You could even, for example, use your smartphone as a key. So you would download an app and you can actually-- [CHUCKLING]-- open the doors by using your phone instead of a traditional key. So really interesting technology to see that's built into this vehicle.
Hm, fascinating. OK, let's go to the next one. This is the Volvo XC40 Recharge.
- Right, so this is actually Volvo's first all-electric vehicle as well. And it's based on the XC40. This is their compact SUV. But if you look closely at it, you'll notice, I mean, there's no traditional grill. There are no tailpipes because there's no emissions. And of course, it has a pink charging cord, which is kind of cute. Nobody else has a pink one.
But this is also part of Volvo's ambitious plans. They want to basically have half of their global sales be electric by 2025. So this is their first vehicle out the gate. And this one will have a range of about 335 kilometers, lots of safety features in it, because this is really what Volvo is about. Now this starts around $65,000. It's actually about $25,000 more than the regular gas-powered XC40. So it's a big premium to pay to go electric.
Yeah, and still doesn't have the range of the Mustang. I always listen for the range.
Let me ask you about the other. I know there's a partnership. Volvo is partnered with a Chinese company for Polestar.
- Right. Yes, this is Geely. This is the Chinese automaker and Volvo partnering up. And they have this company Polestar. And they have their first electric vehicle called the Polestar 2. So this is very-- quite-- very interesting as well. This one has a range of about 380 kilometers. I drove it a couple of months ago. And it was really impressive.
It also had neat technology features inside too. So for example, you don't have a traditional key. There's no ignition switch. There's no push button start. You just sit on the seat And It actually starts on its own.
And the whole interior, Kim, is actually completely vegan. So no animal products in it. The carpeting's made out of 100% recycled materials.
It even has the Google Assistant system built in. So you get Google Maps. You can say, hey, Google, I'm cold and it'll adjust the temperature for you because it understands natural language.
Now, this one starts, though, at about $70,000, a little bit more than the XC40 Recharge. But interesting to see this new player trying to get a little piece of this electric pie.
Very cool. OK, I've only got about 45 seconds, Petrina. So I know you can get them in. There's two left.
This is the-- or excuse me-- I've got a good minute now here-- a Bollinger B2 and the Hummer-- the Hummer. [LAUGHTER] I can't believe that we're actually talking about an EV. So tell me about the Bollinger first.
I know. Sure. The Bollinger, this is actually from a Michigan startup company-- really bare bones and basic inside, not too many safety or convenience features. But it has cool features like removable and foldable doors and windows and a bed that can extend 6 to 8 feet.
This is very expensive because it only has a range of 320 kilometers. This is $125,000 US, Kim. And believe it or not, Canada is the second largest market for this. They've already had a couple dozen orders of this vehicle from Canadians.
And then the other one you mentioned is the GMC Hummer EV. This is a familiar name. But it's gone all electric. So it's greener, better on the environment. You can get it with two or three electric motors. And if you get the three electric motors, you get 1,000 horsepower.
And you also have a range of about 560 kilometers. And this vehicle will go zero to 100 in less than three seconds. Also a very expensive electric vehicle. The first edition model started out at $112,000 US. We don't know the Canadian prices yet. But they are going to be in that $70,000 US. But we won't see this in Canada for about, oh, another year and a half or so, still some time away.
Petrina, excellent run down. Three electric motors, I can't believe that. That is just insane but interesting nonetheless.
Petrina, thanks so much.
- Thank you, Kim.