Next is Leap Year. Not in calendar, in perception

by | Dec 24, 2020 | Motoring, News

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Slew of almost there’s. The upcoming normal is electric. Ish.

After a long year of staying home, 2020 is about to go. Possibly the time period with the least sales of new cars since the invention of the mobile phone. Not sure, haven’t looked. But it feels right. And if we have learned something in 2020, it is that what feels true is certainly more real than what is true.

But 2021 is upon us and with it we are going to see some changes. And big ones. And good ones. This will not be, alas, the year in which EV cars become affordable. And I mean affordable in the way internal combustion engine cars are. But this is going to be the year of the plug-in hybrid. The year in which those changing cars and having access to power in their garage will go for the obvious option of “fueling-up” at almost one tenth of the cost. This is the final hurdle for EV adoption: the infrastructure… And the 35-45,000USD plug-in hybrid is poised to take us there.

Because while humans are not necessarily creatures of reason, most wallets tend to follow discrete paths that often align with it. Therefore, having 90% of daily travel on full EV mode, and charging at home from the normal plug and getting rid of the petrol-station rigmarole and recouping nearly 2,000$ of fuel cost a year will suddenly become a no-brainer. As we publish this, the average difference between IC, Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid and EV round as follows:

ModelInternal CombustionHybridPlug-in HybridEV
Hyundai Sonata$23,000$27,750$33,400N/A
Hyundai Kona$20,400N/AN/A$38,000
Kia Niro$24,500$27,300$34,000$40,300
VW Tiguan / ID.4$25,600N/A$39,000$44,000

2021 is certain to bring down the difference to that magical 4-year ROI every company, accountant or engineer looks for. Countries are getting ready. Massive infrastructure plans, bans being introduced, additional taxes, tax credits, it’s all a conjoined effort to turn traffic into a more silent and cleaner affair. One we should welcome, not fight. I still remember the days we laughed at the guy that carried a brick phone as “snob”. Or the worm-hanging-from-the-ear wannabe executive that was the laughingstock for both common and aristocratic folk. I judged, I laughed, I was wrong. More technology is almost always better than less. And modern technology is almost always better than old. What we do with it is a different story. And a different subject. One for more learned philosophers.

Renault Captur PHEV

Unlikely heroes…

And while the likes of Tesla, Rimac, Lucid, Polestar, Porsche, Audi, Mercedes or Rivian will entice with prohibitive feats of speed and ludicrousness, peppering the news pages of sites very much like this one, the unsung hero of 2021 is going to be the Hyundai, and the Toyota, and the Skoda, and the Ford, and the Mitsubishi, and the KIA. The modest, trundling, heavy-duty, dirty, filled with fast-food wrappings and month-old reports, with hanging aromatic trees and balls of tissue on the floor, plug-in hybrid. With 50-60 km of EV range. Under 45,000USD. Five seats, four doors and four wheels. And a penchant for avoiding the petrol-pump and the oil change.

If I owned a gas station, I would be worried. A lot.