Attending any live event these days is a pleasure, but especially so at the Consumer Electronics Show, which over the years has become a “car show” in its own right.
This year’s attendance was lower due to the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, and everyone had to wear masks at all times – which does inhibit conversation. Yet there were more than 200 transportation- or vehicle-related exhibitors this year, a 20% increase from the last live show in 2020.
The mood was all-electric, and if any car dealers doubt the anticipated demise of internal-combustion engines in new vehicles, a few moments at CES 2022 would have changed their minds.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra’s keynote focused entirely on BEVs and autonomous vehicles, with the new Silverado and Equinox BEVs launching this year.
While most of the hoopla was around the pickup, a $30,000 Equinox CUV is a potential game changer. GM also shed more light on the new BrightDrop brand of battery-electric trucks (already in use with FedEx and Walmart).
Hyundai has explicitly said it will invest no more money in ICE propulsion, while Stellantis pledged the Chrysler brand to be all-electric by 2028, and cut a surprising deal with Amazon as the first commercial customer to use the Ram ProMaster BEV slated for 2023 (which threw Rivian’s stock price into a tizzy).
Also, VinFast, the Vietnamese automaker that launched its first ICE vehicle in 2019, is coming fast and furious into the U.S. with their BEV lineup.
VinFast has an interesting offer, “Pioneer’s Gratitude to Pioneers.” Anyone putting down a $200 refundable deposit by April 5 will receive a $3,000 voucher toward the price of the two-row VF 8 CUV, or a $5,000 voucher for the three-row VF 9 CUV (pictured, below). Both battery-electric vehicles are scheduled to reach the U.S. by year’s end.
One thing that convinces me the EV market will grow dramatically in the U.S. – even faster than some of the OEMs have suggested – is the sheer number of CES booths for EV charging-station equipment makers and suppliers.
It seemed like every third booth or so, among 200 transportation companies, was selling some new, innovative and convenient system for home, work or public charging.
If the biggest impediment to widespread BEV adoption is limited charging options, CES 2022 suggests growth is inevitable and this impediment will go away sooner than most can imagine.
These EV charging companies (pictured, below) presented products that were faster, more connected, easy to use, easy to install and bi-directional (attached to “the grid,” you can provide power from your car to your house).
According to a Research and Markets report, the global EV charger market is expected to balloon from $3.23 billion in 2020 to nearly $11 billion in 2025. This skyrocketing growth was plainly evident on the CES floor.
Blink, Wallbox, JuiceBar, E-Lift, DCBel, etc. – these might not be common names now, but they were active at CES and are bound to be familiar in the future.
One enterprising charging company, Splitvolt, sells a simple switch that plugs into your home dryer plug outlet, and you can choose between operating your dryer or (Level 2) charging your BEV. This sells on Amazon now for $350, no electrician or installation needed.
A lot of smart folks and companies are dedicated to reaching the goal of ubiquitous fast charging.
Any automotive dealer not preparing for the mass adoption of EVs, including salesfloor education, fixed ops and the looming agency sales model, may find themselves out of “juice” one day soon.
John F. Possumato (pictured, left) is an attorney and founder and CEO of DriveItAway, which provides a turn-key cloud platform/consumer app enabling dealers to offer new mobility solutions, including subscription-to-purchase options broadening the market for new subprime and EV buyers.