Electric Vehicles Could Cost the Same as Gasoline and Diesel Cars by 2021: Report

That would remove a major barrier to mass adoption of electric cars.

WILFRIED WULFF—Wilfried Wulff

Electric cars have been held back by higher average prices than their gasoline and diesel counterparts, but new research indicates that this could change over the next few years. According to the study by research firm Deloitte, EVs could cost the same as internal combustion cars by 2021.

That timeline is the most optimistic estimate; Deloitte noted that it could take until 2024 for electric cars to achieve price parity with internal combustion under less-optimal conditions. But the research firm expects sales of electric cars to grow regardless.

Combined global sales of all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids will hit four million units in 2020, or double the two million of 2018, according to Deloitte. Sales will keep climbing, reaching 12 million units in 2025 and 21 million in 2030, the firm claims. Deloitte anticipates all-electric cars will account for 70 percent of that 2030 sales figure, meaning they would outsell plug-in hybrids by that point.

Deloitte attributes predicted sales growth to changing consumer tastes, continued availability of government incentives, and cities placing restrictions on internal combustion cars. But the research firm also said that supply will "vastly outweigh" demand by about 14 million units come 2030.

The future of electric cars is as unpredictable as anything else. Automakers are implementing aggressive plans to electrify their lineups in response to anticipated global emissions standards. Some governments are even considering banning sales of new internal combustion cars in the coming decades. All of this is aimed at combatting climate change, as transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

But automakers and regulators can't control consumer preferences. It would certainly help if electric cars cost the same as today's internal combustion cars, but it's no guarantee of increased sales. While sales have grown significantly over the past few years, electric vehicles still represent a tiny sliver of new car sales. They've also been helped by government incentives that could be withdrawn. To really boost sales, automakers will need to address a variety of other factors beyond price, including charging infrastructure and the way electric cars are advertised (or, in many cases, aren't).