Earlier this year, when the EPA confirmed new Corporate Average Fuel Economy gas mileage standards of 54.5 mpg by 2025, we told you that it would equate to greener, cleaner cars which cost less to fuel and pollute less. 

But according to veteran automotive executive Bob Lutz, the new gas mileage standards will have another benefit: more plug-in cars. 

Speaking at the Autobeat Insider Conference in Dearborn, Michigan last week, the former Vice Chairman of General Motors predicted that tough gas mileage rules worldwide would increase the global market share of electric vehicles to 15 percent in 10 years.

With European and U.S. legislation making it tough for automakers to produce conventional gasoline and diesel engines, Lutz, known as the ‘Father of the Volt’ for his role in bringing the Chevrolet Volt to market, was brutally honest. 

“You can’t get there from here with a conventional drivetrain,” he told the audience. 

The solution, Lutz said, was for automakers to turn their attention to electrified vehicles, focusing on building plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars without significantly increasing sticker prices.

While switching more production to plug-in cars is certainly one way of reaching the new EPA rules which come into force for 2017 model year cars, Lutz’s plug-in market share predictions are much higher than any others we’ve seen to date.

In fact, Lutz’s prediction far exceeds even the most optimistic of predictions that electric cars will account for between 4 and 5 percent of all new cars by 2020, plug-in hybrid cars will account for 5 to 6 percent, and hybrid cars will reach 20 percent. 

This year, approximately 60 million passenger cars will be produced globally, around 3 percent more than last year. 

Bob Lutz at Via Motors extended-range electric truck conversion launch, 2012 Detroit Auto Show

Bob Lutz at Via Motors extended-range electric truck conversion launch, 2012 Detroit Auto Show

Assuming that gradual growth rate continues for the next 10 years, (which is likely to increase because of China’s rapidly growing automotive market) there will be 80 million to 100 million passenger cars produced during 2022. 

For Lutz’s predictions to become reality, that equates to 12 million to 15 million plug-in cars being produced a year by 2022.

That’s far larger than the Pike Research prediction that by 2017 there will be a cumulative total of 5.2 million plug-in cars on the roads of the world, while by 2020 it predicts annual plug-in sales to reach 1.7 million cars. 

However, if Lutz were including all electrified vehicles in his prediction, including hybrids without a plug, the 15 percent market share would be well within the range of analyst predictions above. 

While Lutz is known for being able to use his years of experience to accurately predict future automotive market trends, do you think his predictions for 2022 are achievable? 

Let us know in the Comments below. 


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