Car market in the USA: With big trucks to e-mobility

Status: 02.11.2021 8:12 a.m.

Less than two percent of new cars sold in the US are electric. It should be 50 percent by 2030. Can this succeed in a country where manufacturers and customers rely on heavy trucks and SUVs?

By Kerstin Klein, ARD Studio Washington

The test drive in the e-truck is only possible via the parking lot next to the factory hall in northwest Detroit. Always the same loop. Robert Bollinger is at the wheel. He developed the electric pickup truck, as well as an electric SUV. Fat prototypes, half a million US dollars expensive – far too valuable for the wild car traffic in Detroit.

Kerstin Klein
ARD-Studio Washington

In the coming year, the E-Boliden should go into series production, around 1000 units, a niche product. Retail price: around $ 125,000. Seven years will have passed from Bollinger’s first idea to the customer’s product.

In 2015, Bollinger had the idea of ​​developing an e-car – in the “Middle Ages of e-mobility”, as he calls it. A lot has changed technically since then. However, recently just two percent of new cars sold were electric. The goal of politics: by 2030 it should be 50 percent.

Bollinger Motors plans to sell the electric pickup truck from 2022 at a unit price of $ 125,000.

Image: Kerstin Klein

Transportation sector is the largest emitter of CO2 in the USA

The promotion of e-mobility – that is also a central point in US President Joe Biden’s climate agenda. The transportation sector is the largest emitter of CO2 in the US, ahead of energy generation. Biden’s infrastructure package includes billions for expanding the charging infrastructure. But: The legislative package is still stuck in Congress.

The industry is also insisting on this expansion, as well as subsidies, and is meanwhile massively entering the e-business. The big three automakers Ford, GM and Stellantis, the “Detroit Big Three”, announced in August that they would be investing heavily in the conversion. For example, Ford wants to build four new factories and create 11,000 jobs. The “F-150 lightning”, an electric version of the most popular truck in the USA, is slated to hit the market next year. Same car, different drive – all traditional car manufacturers rely on this concept.

“People have to love the truck”

Bollinger thinks this is a very smart move. Because the Americans just loved their big, heavy cars. Seven of the ten best-selling new cars in the US are trucks and SUVs. To build on this love – instead of preaching climate protection – is also the Bollinger approach. “I’ve always wanted to build an electric car, for a variety of reasons. One of them is of course being environmentally friendly,” he says. “But that alone doesn’t sell cars here. It was always clear to me: People have to love the truck, think it’s cool. They should say: ‘I want it! Oh, it’s electric? Great.’ At least that’s how we approached the development. “

He thinks it is good that the big players in the industry are now also stepping into e-mobility. The more cars are built, the more the prices fall. At the moment, all components are very expensive, not just the batteries, because they are produced in small numbers. That will change in the coming years – also because many parcel deliverers, department stores and delivery services want to convert their vehicle fleets to electric models.

By 2030, every second new US car is expected to be electric

But something still has to change, says Bollinger. Customers need choice. “If you go to a car dealer, there are dozens of gasoline and diesel cars in the yard. All colors and variants. And then there might be an electric car or two,” he says. “As long as you don’t have the same choice of electric cars as you do with conventional cars, the sales figures will not be comparable.”

“People have to love the truck, think it’s cool,” says Robert Bollinger – also as an e-truck.

Image: Kerstin Klein

The future of mobility will be electric, including in the USA, of that Bollinger is certain. But the goal of the US government to achieve 50 percent electric cars in new cars by 2030 – that is unrealistic.

E-mobility in the USA

Kerstin Klein, ARD Washington, November 1, 2021 10:56 am

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