First let me quickly dip into the Past. Then the Present and the Future it has helped to shape.
Looking back is not always the best thing to do, but in this case it is most certainly warranted to underline how the fading decade’s seismic shifts are impacting as fresh ones for the years ahead are already rumbling beneath our feet.
Back to the Past
This time 10 years ago – December 2009 – new car-registrations were at an historic low.
At around 57,500, they were the worst in living memory. People could not afford a new car.
It was bloodshed time; dealerships fell like skittles, people made do with what they had. The bottom fell out of the market as the recession ravaged everything before it.
In so doing, it spawned a transition in business structures, buying patterns and outlooks that continue to reverberate.
In the bleak depths of December 2009, the old stalwarts were gnawing on the carcase of a measly market. Toyota was barely ahead of Ford as the country’s top seller. It was followed by Volkswagen, Nissan, Opel, Audi, Renault, Škoda, Peugeot and Hyundai.
Bestselling model that year was the Toyota Avensis (now gone), followed by the Ford Focus, Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Passat, Toyota Yaris, Toyota Corolla, Ford Mondeo and Opel Insignia.
Back to the Present
A decade later and many of the old names and marques still resonate: some to greater, some to much diminished, extents.
Fantastic shapes and sizes are making traditional buyers of family saloons and hatchbacks rethink and move over to extraordinary SUV and crossovers.
New technologies are sweeping the ranks of the mainstream modern vehicle. Cars have become computers on wheels. We take for granted our reversing cameras, voice control, plug-in hybrids, auto dim lights and so on.
Many of these developments have been compressed into mainstream cars only in the past few years and in so doing prepared us for the imminent Electric Decade.
Back to the Future
Psychologically, I think, the real Electric Era starts in a few days when 2020 dawns and 2030 beckons.
People are really caught up with the idea of buying electric. To such an extent that many carmakers won’t be able to meet demand. There will be a scarcity of EVs for 2020 at least. That’s shortening the time-span (to 2030) within which the Government wants us to be buying only new EVs.
Maybe that sounds like a long time away? It isn’t you know. Doesn’t 2010 seem like only yesterday?
Back in 2009 there were just five EVs registered.
Now experts predict that more than one-in-five new cars sold in 2022 (which isn’t far away either) will be electric.
Many of the cars coming our way over the next weeks and months are electric or electrified (they carry some battery-power capacity – be it ‘mild’, conventional or plug-in hybrid).
Therefore it doesn’t take a genius to forecast that the year ahead will be dominated by news about, and arrivals of, EVs even if, for some time, diesel and petrol remain major drivers of our cars.
To give you an idea of how quickly we are entering the Electric Era, I have dipped into the EVs’ arrivals’ diary for 2020. A mere skim of its contents serves to remind how quickly events are changing – forever.
Volkswagen’s ID.3 is built to be an EV. A car for ordinary people, they say.
Special Edition versions are due this summer. We’ll have to wait until the year’s end for the entry-level costing below €30,000 (I expect most people will buy a longer-range model and spend €37,000/€38,000).
The summer arrival has a 58-kWh battery and a range of 420km. The less expensive model has a 45-kWh battery (330km range) while the more powerful 77-kWh version claims 550km range. They will arrive in 2020 but the real buying will start in 2021. Volkswagen is also expected to reveal a second electric ID – an SUV similar to the Tiguan.
The German marque is typical of the rush by all carmakers to get in on the electric act.
Alfa Romeo, for example, will add a smaller electric Tonale to its line-up. BMW will have its i4 electric four-door saloon unveiled next year while its iX3 SUV is on the horizon, too.
The new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron crossover will be here in late 2020. With a 74kW battery pack, it is expected to have a range of 450km.
And DS (Citroën’s upmarket arm) will have an electric version of the 3 Crossback E-TENSE.
Size doesn’t matter. There will be an electric version of the cute little Fiat 500 – and a large electric Mustang Mach E high-performance SUV from Ford.
Honda will have its EV on the market in 2020, too while Mercedes will expand its range in June with the EQV. This is based on the V-Class people carrier and has a huge 100kWh battery to give it a range of 400km-plus. It is an interesting vehicle as it can carry up to eight people.
There will even be an electric Mini (prices from €27,765 on-the-road). Expect to see it in showrooms in March. They say it is capable of covering up to 270km on a single charge.
Opel are planning on having an electric Corsa here by March. It will have a range of 330km range.
Peugeot, which like Opel is part of the PSA motor group, will have its electric e-208 early in the new year, too. Add a zero and you get Peugeot’s 2008 electric car here next May.
And still they keep coming. Porsche will have two EVs: the current Taycan and an imminent Macan EV.
Then there are the stalwarts such as the new Renault ZOE R with its 52 kWh battery and 390km range – it’s here already.
Seat will have its first electric, called the el-Born. Unsurprisingly, it shares a lot with the Volkswagen VW ID.3 mentioned above. It will have a 62kWh battery pack.
Tesla’s smaller, more affordable Model 3 is already on sale here but a new compact SUV, Model Y, is due out in 2020. We continue to be fixated by Tesla – we will see the Cybertruck at some stage, I suppose.
Volvo’s first an all-electric XC40, with a 75kWh battery and an expected range of more than 400km, will arrive next year, too.
Looking a little further into the future… watch out for the sensational looking Mercedes EQS Vision flagship saloon. I’ve seen the concept in the flesh; it’s even more striking than its picture.
And remember, what I have outlined is only for starters in 2020. This time next year expect the list to be at least twice as long for 2021.