Electric vehicles are coming to your local dealership, Glenn Mercer said this week, whether shoppers really want them or not.
The former McKinsey & Co. partner who has spent years analyzing the U.S. auto retail market said the “single biggest change” to his outlook is increased market share of plug-in vehicles in the second half of this decade.
“We’re upping our electric vehicle sales penetration forecast for 2025 and beyond, mostly because of expanding supply, not because of surging demand,” he said in an NADA Show workshop Tuesday called “Dealership of Tomorrow: 2021 Update.”
Automakers are planning a “deluge” of new EVs for the U.S. market in the coming years, Mercer said. (Toyota Motor Corp. said on Wednesday that this year it will unveil two battery-powered vehicles — one a crossover — for sale in the region starting next year.)
Since everything that gets made eventually gets sold, it stands to reason that EVs and PHEVs will gain share eventually.
How much and when?
“Forecasts are all over the map,” Mercer said. “The only thing they agree on is that EV penetration will be higher in the future than it is now.”
He showed 13 estimates for 2025, ranging from 5 percent EV share to as high as 20 percent. The average was 9.5 percent. For 2030, everything was about double: an average of 19 percent EVs from estimates ranging from 8 to 40 percent.
But Mercer remains less enthusiastic than most prognosticators. Last year, he raised his forecast for 2025 share held by battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids to 6 percent from 5 percent. This year, he bumped it up to 7 percent.
To highlight how challenging such predictions are, he ran through some of the many variables that come into play.
Consumer concerns such as charging availability, fear of depreciation or battery-replacement costs could dampen demand, while lower maintenance costs, faster acceleration and a quiet ride appeal to shoppers.
Of course, government policies play a big role, such as the status of EV tax credits or regulations affecting fuel prices. In the U.S., for instance, gasoline is relatively inexpensive.
“Yeah, we all know: In Norway, EVs are more than half of the market,” Mercer said. “Gasoline in Norway is $7 a gallon — that makes a difference.”
How far the Biden administration is able to go to support EVs remains to be seen. But product plans indicate that dealers better figure out how to sell them.