A “mountain” of battery-electric vehicles coming into the market this year likely will mean that 2021 will be the year that EVs break out and start grabbing larger percentages of new-vehicle sales in the U.S., the CEO of Volkswagen of America predicts.
Scott Keogh, who led Audi’s launch of the E-tron in 2018 before moving to his current job as head of the VW brand that year, says the coming wave of EVs from automakers will translate to a shift among consumers.
“I think the trend is huge, and I don’t use that word lightly. I think [when] we look back on 2021, in my opinion, this will be sort of the year EV broke,” like the Beatles going on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964, Keogh said. “This is going to be the year.”
Keogh spoke with Automotive News Publisher Jason Stein during the Automotive News Shift Mobility Forum, part of this year’s all-virtual CES technology expo last week.
Keogh noted that EV sales grew in 2020 in the U.S., despite COVID-19 and the resulting shutdowns, and despite an overall market that dropped 14 percent. Keogh said VW’s projections for 2021 are for a 70 to 80 percent increase in EV sales in the U.S., to somewhere “over 400,000, maybe 500,000 units. It will move from being under nearly 2 percent of the market to over 3 percent of the market.”
He said automakers, including VW, have a “mountain” of battery-electric vehicles heading for U.S. showrooms — including the VW ID4 compact crossover that will arrive in U.S. dealerships beginning in March. As a result of all of the new offerings, consumers who might have been curious about EVs before are more likely to consider them against a traditionally powered vehicle.
EVs are “a cool consumer proposition” and have a lot to offer, Keogh said. “They’re quiet, they’re fast, they’re super loaded with technology and in many regards, if you put them up against comparable [ICE-powered] cars, they’re spaceships.”
Long term, Keogh said the EV market in the U.S. could grow to 22 to 25 percent of all auto sales by 2030 from less than 2 percent in 2020.
“That’s a lot of growth, and that’s only 10 years away,” he said, adding that electric propulsion is unlikely to completely replace internal combustion engine-powered vehicles, but it will continue to eat into its dominant market share year after year.
“It’s going to come because pricing is going to get more competitive,” Keogh said.
The ID4 will start with a $41,190 sticker, including shipping, when it goes on sale this spring. VW began consumer advertising for the ID4 this month. But even more important than price is purchase confirmation, Keogh said.
“I know all Americans are completely individualistic,” he said, “but the truth is, the more you see someone else in the car, the more it leads to a conversation. So you pick up the kids at school, you go to the country club — not now, obviously — and of course, you see the cars and that is what will lead to this tipping point” of broader adoption.