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Electric vehicle sales to rev up in future, experts say at Chattanooga meeting – Chattanooga Times Free Press

Gallery: Electric vehicle sales to get green light, experts say

“The next five years will be very interesting for electric vehicles.”

Drew Frye of TVA

Many of the red stop lights that motorists see when thinking about buying an electric vehicle will turn green over the next five years, some experts said in Chattanooga on Tuesday.

“In the next five years, all the promises [automakers] made in electrification will hit parking lots and showrooms,” said Bill Copeland, EPB’s strategic director for business intelligence.

Drew Frye, a TVA program manager for EV strategy, said at a panel discussion on battery-powered vehicles sponsored by the sustainability group Green|Spaces that there are a lot of electric cars slated to arrive in the market by 2024.

By the numbers

* More than 1.18 million electric vehicles were on the road in the U.S. as of March 31, 2019.

* Total sales of electric vehicles for 2018 were up 81% compared to 2017.

He said the vehicles will include popular SUVs and pickup trucks which buyers are favoring. Also, the vehicles will offer longer ranges between battery charging and likely will cost less, Frye said.

“The next five years will be very interesting for electric vehicles,” he said.

Jim Dillard, of Drive Electric Chattanooga, said more auto manufacturers are getting aboard electric vehicles.

“They’re not electric go carts,” he said. “They’re high performance cars.”

Ali Ahmed, founder and principal of the consulting firm Green Strategies, said the starting phase involving EVs is over. Now, there’s a retooling shift toward EVs among automakers and their suppliers, he said.

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“It’s a matter of time,” Ahmed said.

Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly plant is expected to break ground by year’s end on an $800 million expansion to build electric vehicles.

The German automaker has pledged to hire 1,000 more workers to make EVs, including a new battery-powered SUV by 2022.

Frye said acceptance of EVs will increase as the recharging infrastructure is built out. He said that 80% of recharging takes place at the home.

Also, Frye said, vehicle availability, more consumer awareness about EV technology and supportive state policies including rebates and tax credits will help.

Daniel Siksay, project manager for the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition, said there are between 3,200 and 3,500 alternative fuel vehicles now on the state’s roads.

He said EVs lower carbon dioxide emissions over internal combustion engine cars, boost fuel savings by 65% or more, and offer lower maintenance costs.

Kristi Swartz of E&E News told the Green/Spaces group that she and Maxine Joselow are driving the Southeast leg of a 6,000-mile EV journey across America.

Swartz cited a couple of recharging failures on Monday — a problem plugging into an outlet at a house and a charger in Chattanooga that wouldn’t take credit cards.

She said that even though gas prices now are spiking due to a drone attack on major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, other barriers coming down related to technology, range and cost will be more key to future EV sales.

The attacks have taken 5.7 million crude barrels per day off the market, accounting for about 6% of the global supply, according to AAA. Prior to the attacks, global crude oil supply was healthy with a global glut of stocks.

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“Americans can expect local pump prices to start to increase this week. The jump could end up being as much as a quarter per gallon throughout this month,” said Jeanette Casselano, a AAA spokesperson. “Whether this is a short or long term trend will be determined by the price of crude oil prices and how quickly the facilities in Saudi Arabia can recover and get back online.”

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.


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