CEO Column

Jennifer Safavian | International Automakers Driving Innovation and EVs in the U.S.

Jennifer Safavian
February 28, 2023

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining popularity across the United States. In fact, last year EV sales jumped by two-thirds. Experts believe that EVs could make up 50% of all new vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030, and many lawmakers are pushing hard to meet these projections with new policies and incentives for both manufacturers and drivers.

Automakers are also responding to consumer demands and working hard to develop and manufacture innovative and reliable EV models, including the new Kia EV6. I had the pleasure of driving the EV6 around the D.C. metro area last week, and it made me even more bullish about our electric future. Driving the EV6 gave me a glimpse into the benefits that electric vehicles can provide for consumers, and I was impressed by its high-tech details and 300-mile range. I also recently had the opportunity to visit Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, Alabama to celebrate the start of production of the Genesis Electrified GV70—Genesis’ first EV model constructed outside South Korea. The event marked another significant step toward a cleaner future, and I was thrilled to be there to celebrate the milestone in-person.

Other international automakers are also leading the way with both fully electric and hybrid vehicles. Each international automaker is producing wholly new models or electrifying their classics, like the Mazda MX-30 SUV, the Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV, the Nissan Leaf, the Volkswagen ID.4, the Volvo S60 PHEV, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, the Subaru Solterra, the BMW X5 PHEV, the Honda CR-V Hybrid, and the Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV. Each of these models is striving to meet the needs of consumers while creating new clean vehicle options to help meet our shared climate goals.

International automakers have announced significant investments in the U.S.—totaling over $20 billion in 2022 alone— to increase not only EV production at new and existing facilities, but also to expand battery and parts production. These investments strengthen our domestic supply chains and ensure long-term American automotive competitiveness. Toyota recently announced a $3.8 billion investment in a new U.S. battery plant in North Carolina, scheduled to begin operations 2025. Last year, Mercedes-Benz began production of the all-electric EQS SUV at MBUSI and opened a new battery production plant in Alabama that created 600 new jobs while paving the way for the company to go all-electric. BMW in South Carolina, Honda in Ohio, and Hyundai in Georgia have all announced major EV and battery production at existing and new facilities in the U.S. Nissan, Volkswagen, and Volvo have made great strides retraining their workforces to build EVs at their existing plants in Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina respectively, protecting and enhancing the automotive production careers they create.

There is no doubt the electrification transition is underway, and international automakers are driving the EV charge across the country.

According to the latest Autos Drive America Economic Impact Report, international automakers sold over 1 million new green vehicles in the U.S. in 2021, accounting for the vast majority (66%) of market share.[1] This includes hybrid and electric automobiles. And when our 2023 Economic Impact Report is released, we are optimistic the data will show international automakers continuing this trend, especially if smart, pro-growth policies are adopted by lawmakers.

We’re already seeing the federal government and state governments take steps to increase EV production in the U.S. and build the infrastructure necessary to really electrify consumer EV adoption.

The next five years will be exciting for the automotive industry. Friendly competition, significant investments by automakers, and the right government policies will be crucial for consumers looking to make the jump to EVs.

[1] “Green vehicles” defined as BEVs, HEVs, FCEVs, and PHEVs.