Maybe it’s because it’s a nice round number. Or because it’s the dawn of a new decade. Or the time of the next summer Olympics. Heck, maybe everyone just threw a dart at a calendar and hit it. But one thing’s for sure: The year 2020 is going to be electrifying. Get those powerplants fired up and batten down the grids.
The world’s biggest automakers, some of whom have been slow to react to the changing landscape, have been breaking their axles lately jumping on the all-electric bandwagon, with a flurry of recent announcements outlining grandiose plans to charge up their lineups. (Warning: more bad wordplay ahead.) Several notable cars are expected to sneak in just before the 2020 deadline, including the Jaguar I-Pace crossover (2018) and Porsche Mission E sports car (2019). An all-new Nissan Leaf with a sub-$30,000 price and 150-mile range has just arrived. Of course there’s also the Model 3, Tesla’s relatively affordable sedan that has sent shock waves through the industry.
Other factors are at work besides the Tesla effect. The Chinese government, for one, has broadly hinted it intends to ban the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars sometime soon in favor of EVs to help reduce its massive pollution issues. China is already the world’s biggest EV market. That’s more than enough motivation to jolt the industry into EV overdrive. Additionally, several other countries, including the U.K. and France (by 2040) and the Netherlands and Norway (by 2025), have already declared their intentions to make the internal combustion engine power non grata from a new sales perspective.
What follows is a sampling of just some of the offerings from major automakers that are expected to plug into sockets in a little more than two years’ time.
We recently previewed Volkswagen’s electri-fied take on its classic Microbus, the I.D. Buzz, which the company says is coming in 2022. But the first vehicles to lead its EV parade will bow in 2020, the Golf-sized I.D. and the I.D. Crozz crossover, concept versions of which VW showcased recently on the auto show circuit. The Volkswagen Group as a whole has pivoted hard away from diesel (you know why) and toward electrics, and 2020 will be a huge year for several of its marques, most notably Audi, which has said it will have as many as three full EV models for sale by then.
Volvo has declared that it will have five all-electric vehicles on the road between 2019 and 2021, placing it right in the 2020 wheelhouse. The good news is that two of those vehicles will be from the brand’s Polestar performance car arm, so we’re going to assume they won’t be boring. Volvo’s electromobility efforts have been accelerated, thanks in part to the significant resources of its parent company, China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.
Speaking of owners and former owners of Volvo, Ford has been running late to the EV prom, at least when it comes to developing a fully dedicated vehicle not based on an existing model. But it looks like it’s going arrive—fashionably so—by 2020. Although details are sketchy, Ford says it is developing a new crossover with a 300-plus-mile range—an ambitious target given that most of today’s highest-range models top out around 250 miles or so. Ford also insists this won’t be a niche, low-volume vehicle but rather an affordable, mass-market offering.
The 2020 summer Olympics are in Tokyo, and reports out of Japan say Toyota plans on rolling out a small, all-electric crossover with a range of as much as 186 miles in conjunction with the event. Toyota’s EV-only strategy has been limited to toe-in-water efforts such as the RAV4 EV, instead focusing on hybrids and the hydrogen fuel-cell-propelled Mirai. (General Motors and Honda are among the fuel-cell proponents as well.) If true, it would be a reversal of sorts for the automaker, which thus far has appeared reluctant to jump into the fully electric pool with all four tires.
Unlike Toyota, GM has been an EV-liever—its 2017 Automobile All-Stars winning Chevy Bolt EV is proof of that. To underscore its commitment, GM recently announced plans for two more EVs “based on learnings” from the Bolt within the next 18 months. (Yeah, I know that’s late 2019 but close enough.) It’s part of a plan by GM to have 20 new, electrified vehicles of all types across its lineup by 2023. GM firmly believes in an all-electric future, says executive vice president of product development Mark Reuss. That future apparently begins in earnest in 2020, so prepare to ground yourself in the coming new reality.