Petrol- and diesel-powered cars will be banned in the ACT and several European countries by 2035 – but don’t expect electric vehicles to take over the world by then.
There’s no argument that the automotive world is moving towards an electric future, but just how quickly we’ll all be driving battery-powered cars remains open to debate. One of Ford’s most senior global engineers, and the man responsible for its internal combustion engine (ICE) models, believes many countries – including Australia – will be much slower to make the switch than many expect.
According to Trevor Worthington, vice president of ICE product programs for Ford, despite the Blue Oval’s successful push into electric vehicles with the Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning and E-Transit that have been sell-out hits in the USA, other markets are adopting EVs much slower.
Crucially, he said it was vital for a brand like Ford to continue to invest in ICE vehicles as they are more profitable than EVs currently and pay for the investment in new technology and models.
“We want to grow EV, and we want to grow ICE,” Mr Worthington said. “For the longest time out in the future, there’s going to be a need for the ICE business. We need ICE vehicles because our customers want them and our job is to make sure that we execute them really, really well so that we get the revenue, we get the volume that we need, but we also… need to look for other opportunities because there are unmet needs.
“If you’re going to spend $50 billion on EVs, which we’ve said we’re going to spend, that doesn’t come on a credit card. That comes out of really solid plans to deliver revenue and get the money in to afford the transition for all the businesses.”
While the ban of new ICE vehicle sales in just over 12 years may seem like a reasonable target in many countries, particularly those like Norway that have pushed EVs for more than a decade, Australia is still lagging behind.
In Australia, EV sales have more than doubled in the last two years, but still only account for approximately three per cent of the total market. While there have been government incentives for electric cars, the majority of the market still prefer petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles, and Mr Worthington said it was crucial for Ford to ensure those demands are still met.
He was hesitant to put an end date on ICE vehicles, but indicated they would likely be popular in markets like Australia beyond 2040.
“When you look at the markets that are probably going quickest towards electrification, China and Europe, maybe the US is going a bit slower than that,” Mr Worthington explained. “If you look at the market outside those three, the rest of the world, probably 50 per cent of the ICE vehicles that we sell in 2027, 2028 are going to come from those other markets.
“It’s probably inevitable that more countries are going to drive towards an end date. But again, if you look at China and you look at Europe and then you look at the US, outside of those three markets, ICE is going to run, I think a lot longer than it is in those markets.
“I would expect that there’ll still be lots of markets that are selling ICE vehicles in 2035, 2040.”
A lack of incentives and infrastructure for electric vehicles in markets like Australia is one of the reasons it is taking longer for the transition, but Mr Worthington pointed to the current demand for the new Ranger and Everest models as a sign the local market is still one dominated by petrol and diesel engine models.