Why 2021 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for electric vehicles

Automakers are redefining their images -- and products.

February 21, 2021, 11:04 AM
British luxury automaker Jaguar is transitioning to all-electric vehicles by 2025.
British luxury automaker Jaguar is transitioning to all-electric vehicles by 2025.

Brace yourself for an emissions-free future.

No more internal combustion engines. No more polluting trucks and cars. Only 100% electric vehicles will be shown and sold in dealerships.

Automakers are shaking up and electrifying their lineups, teasing motorists with images of upcoming gasless vehicles. The U.S. automotive industry will look a lot different by 2025 than it does today.

Online car shopping site Edmunds predicts 2021 will be a "pivotal year" for electric vehicles, with U.S. sales rising to 2.5% versus 1.9% last year. Consumers will also see a deluge of new models entering the market in the next 11 months: 30 EVs from 21 brands, up from 17 models in 2020, according to Edmunds.

Stephanie Brinley, an industry expert at IHS Markit, said a larger selection of EVs at affordable prices will help change Americans' attitudes on emissions-free vehicles. Automakers, though, will have to work hard to highlight why EVs are the smarter choice, she added.

"Cost is still a factor and range anxiety will be partly addressed by education," Brinley told ABC News. "There's no reason a consumer can't adjust to an electric vehicle."

Tesla vehicles are seen charging in a garage in Washington, D.C., Feb. 8, 2021.
Michel Reynolds/EPA via Shutterstock

Which automakers are charging up their portfolios and betting big on battery technology?

Jaguar Land Rover

The British company owned by India's Tata Motors has become the latest manufacturer to commit to an electric future.

Jaguar, the storied sports car maker known for its seductive designs, will become an "all-electric luxury brand" by 2025 to "realize its unique potential," the marque announced Feb. 15. Future Jaguar models will be built "exclusively on a pure electric architecture," the company noted.

The latest Jaguar F-TYPE sports car was redesigned for 2021.
Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar currently manufacturers one EV: The I-PACE. Global sales of the stylish, futuristic-looking SUV totaled 7,807 units in 2020.

The first all-electric Land Rover model will come in 2024 followed by five "pure electric variants" in the next five years, the company said. Moreover, JLR expects nearly 60% of Land Rovers sold by 2030 will be equipped with zero tailpipe powertrains.

The company has set another ambitious goal: Zero net carbon emissions in its supply chain, products and operations by 2039.

Ford Motor

The Dearborn automaker's new, splashy Mustang Mach-E SUV has Tesla owners trading in their vehicles for this all-electric Ford. The company's next vehicle launch with a battery-electric drivetrain will likely be the F-150 pickup truck in early 2022.

Ford's rollout of battery-powered vehicles in the U.S. has been slow compared to the competition. In Europe, however, Ford's entire passenger vehicle lineup will run solely on batteries by 2030.

Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition
Ford Motor

This week, Ford pledged to spend $1 billion to overhaul its factory in Cologne, Germany, as a base for electric vehicle production. Two-thirds of Ford’s commercial vehicle sales expected to be all-electric or plug-in hybrids by 2030 and Ford's newly announced partnership with Volkswagen will help the company achieve its EV targets.

"Our announcement today to transform our Cologne facility, the home of our operations in Germany for 90 years, is one of the most significant Ford has made in over a generation. It underlines our commitment to Europe and a modern future with electric vehicles at the heart of our strategy for growth," Ford of Europe President Stuart Rowley said in a statement.

The 117-year-old automaker recently doubled its investment in electric vehicles to $22 billion by the end of 2025.

Elected officials in Europe have been aggressively regulating tailpipe emissions. To avoid costly penalties and fines, automakers are phasing out petroleum-powered cars and trucks for EVs.

Bentley Motors

The formidable, mighty W12 and V8 engines that power Bentley's pricey sedans, grand tourers and SUVs will soon become part of automotive legend.

2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8
Bentley Motors

The ultra luxury automaker announced in November that its first electric vehicle will debut in 2025. Then, by 2030, every conveyance assembled at its Crewe, U.K., factory will be battery electric.

Adrian Hallmark, Bentley's CEO, acknowledged the company's bold move, calling it a "profound change in the industry."

"It's really a transformation of business," he told reporters. "There is demand for a Bentley EV."

Bentley's EXP 100 GT concept car could provide additional clues about the company's plans. The svelte, radically-looking grand tourer incorporates sustainable materials and comes programmed with autonomous electric driving technology. The battery-electric powertrain propels the EXP 100 GT from 0 to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, according to Bentley.

General Motors

The auto giant has not done away with internal combustion engines -- yet.

The Detroit automaker laid out its bullish plans for electric vehicles in January, vowing that 40% of U.S. models will be battery electric vehicles by the end of 2025.

By 2035, the majority of GM vehicles sold will be EVs.

GM's large, masculine pickup trucks have been reliable moneymakers for the company and consumer demand for these gas-guzzlers skyrocketed in the spring and summer.

Anticipation for GM's reborn all-electric Hummer, slated for the 2022 model year, has not waned since its debut last October.

2022 GMC Hummer EV
General Motors

The company drummed up interest in the all-electric Cadillac Lyriq with its entertaining Super Bowl ads. And GM's small, Bolt hatchback got a redesign, along with a sibling, the Bolt EUV (electric utility vehicle), for 2022. Global sales of the Bolt EV have topped 100,000 since its market launch in 2017.

2022 Chevy Bolt EV
General Motors
2022 Chevy Bolt EUV
General Motors

These vehicles are part of GM's road map of launching 30 new EVs globally by 2025.

More EVs

Automakers worldwide are busy readying their EV models for motorists. German luxury automaker Audi recently introduced its 2022 e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT, two high-performance electric cars that pack 522 horsepower and 637 hp respectively.

2022 Audi e-tron GT

Volkswagen's new compact ID.4 promises to be a serious challenger to the top-selling Tesla Model 3. All-electric automaker Rivian has been testing its $67,500 R1T truck in Arizona's desert; the truck can get 300+ miles of range on a full charge.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Then there's the Lordstown Endurance, which will compete in the grueling San Felipe 250 desert race this April in Baja, California.

The Lordstown Motors Corp. Endurance electric pickup truck is displayed during an unveiling event in Lordstown, Ohio, June 25, 2020.
Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The slew of EVs hitting the market could upend the industry, IHS Markit's Brinley noted.

"Consumers' willingness to consider EVs will change as products get better," she added.

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