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February 03, 2020
Super Bowl Ads Reveal New Pitch for EVs
By Nick Nigro

The passenger EV market has something for everyone right now and reading between the lines reveals that the market is on the verge of a turning point. The extent to which the United States leads or follows during this transition is up to policymakers in Washington, the states, and within cities as we’ve discussed recently.

Last night, four automakers spent millions on ads during the Super Bowl to tout their new electric offerings with a focus on EV size and performance rather than the technology’s environmental benefits. Lebron James is the new pitchman for GM’s upcoming 1,000 horsepower electric Hummer, Idris Elba showed Ford’s Mustang EV is worthy of the famous moniker, Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones rode in an Audi E-Tron SUV and encouraged car buyers looking at gasoline vehicles to “let it go,” and Porsche reminded everyone that EVs can keep pace with any gas-powered sportscar. These ads mark a notable shift in the industry’s approach to the EV pitch and are a far cry from the cheesy Super Bowl ad from Nissan in 2011.

The new strategy from the autos makes sense for the U.S. market as Americans continue to show their preference for larger, more powerful vehicles; light trucks and SUVs made up 70 percent of light-duty vehicle sales in 2019 while their share averaged about 50 percent from 2010 to 2015. The Super Bowl ads may have appeased some critics of the industry’s lack of advertising for EVs, but much more is needed before we can expect everyday consumers to have the information they need to decide on buying an EV.

A likely reason for this shift in the industry’s approach to the marketing of EVs is the success of Tesla. As I discussed in my wrap-up of the 2010s, Tesla has proven that full-sized, long-range EVs are not only possible, but are the overwhelming preference for EV buyers. While they did not run any ads in the big game, Tesla is being called a “status symbol” among NFL athletes. The Wall Street Journal recently released a video on how EVs work in markets around the world. When they focused on the charging experience, they described Tesla as an “outlier” because of the company’s substantial investment  in a nationwide network of fast charging stations. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to find a story on “range anxiety” that focuses on Tesla because of their Supercharger network.

The financial markets have long hemmed and hawed about Tesla, sending their stock soaring and crashing as the company met and missed expectations over the years. The wild ride the stock is on at the moment (up 130 percent in the last year) could be a sign that investors are going all-in on all-electrics. With the delivery of their first vehicles in China late last year, Tesla expanded their customer base to include the largest EV market in the world and reduced their dependency on the U.S. market. The company also had a very positive earnings call last week, sending their market capitalization to over $110 billion, or second in the world among all automakers behind only Toyota.

Looking ahead, the EV market is entering a new generation of technology, one that’s bigger, faster, and stronger. While EVs are already cost effective on a total cost ownership basis in certain cases, analysts estimate that some vehicles will even reach price parity within five years. In addition, more fast charging infrastructure is being deployed in anticipation of new longer range EVs thanks to Electrify America, state governments through the Volkswagen Settlement, electric utility programs, and other market players.

For EVs to succeed, they’ll have to check all the boxes for the mainstream car and truck buyer. The good news is action is underway on all fronts that put EVs in a strong place to compete in every segment. The big unknown at this point is the extent to which the United States will lead or follow.
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Last week, we published a new data story on utility approval rates. We found that, cumulatively, utilities are batting 0.771, meaning 77 percent of all filings since 2013 have received commission approval. While a significant majority of programs have been approved by regulatory commissions, many were modified first. 

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EV Hub News

2020 Federal Low or No Emission Program Funding Available

On January 17, 2020, the Federal Transit Adminsitration (FTA) announced the opening of the 2020 Low or No Emission (Low-No) Program. Under this cycle. approximately $130 million will be available for transit agencies in all states to go towards the purchase or lease of low or no emission vehicles as well as related equipment or facilities.

The main purpose of the Low-No Program is to support the transition of the nation’s transit fleet to the lowest polluting and most energy efficient transit vehicles. The Low-No Program provides funding to State and local governmental authorities for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses, including acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting facilities. Since 2015, the Low-No Program has awarded almost $350 million for ZEV transit buses and supporting equipment. This year’s allocation will be the largest amount of yearly funding to date. Proposals are due by March 17, 2020. Read More Here

DOE Announces $133 Million to Accelerate Advanced Vehicle Technologies Research

The U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $133 million in new and innovative advanced vehicle technologies research.  This funding supports research that will lead to more affordable, efficient, and secure transportation energy. Funded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, this funding opportunity supports projects in advanced batteries and electrification in support of the recently announced DOE Energy Storage Grand Challenge.

This FY 2020 funding opportunity also supports priorities in advanced engine and fuel technologies including technologies for off-road applications, lightweight materials, new mobility technologies (energy efficient mobility systems), and alternative fuels technology demonstrations. Read More Here

New Jersey Legislature Passes New Bill Mandating Accelerated EV and Charging Deployment

On January 13, 2020, the New Jersey State Assembly and Senate passed S2252 establishing sweeping transportation electrification targets statewide. If signed by Governor Murphy, the bipartisan bill would establish a statewide public charging network to support an estimated 330,000 light-duty EVs by 2025.  

To support this acceleration, the bill proposes the deployment of at least 400 DC fast charging stations. To help expand the impact of this legislation, the bill also proposes the establishment of a statewide rebate program managed by the Board of Public Utilities. Funded at $30 million annually, the rebate program would offer incentives worth up to $5,000 to go towards the purchase of an EV with a sticker price below $55,000. Read More Here

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The launch of app-based for-hire vehicle (FHV) companies has led to increased shared mobility options, but the increase in vehicle miles traveled created by this growing sector has also presented challenges. Jen Roberton, Transportation Policy Advisor from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and Mark Simon, Director of EV Policy at NYC Department of Transportation, will discuss the emissions impact of the FHV sector and how electric vehicle charging infrastructure can help NYC meet its climate goals. Read More Here.

February 5th @ 1pm EST

Every quarter, join us for a webinar to review what we’ve learned about transportation electrification in the United States. These webinars are free to all and we encourage you to share this meeting information with your network. All content from the webinar are based on information available on EV Hub.

Join the webinar: http://bit.ly/atlas-ev-hub-2019-q4-review

For Q4 in 2019, our main takeaways are EV sales fall well below record Q4 in 2018, regulatory battles continue, and utility investment decreases. Read More Here.

February 12th @ 2pm EST

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