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Op-Ed: Electric Vehicles Important for Alabama’s Automotive Industry

By Dr. Allen Parrish | Executive Director, Alabama Transportation Institute

Electric Vehicles (EVs) have emerged as one of the fastest-growing technology solutions in the field of transportation.

While that statement may be surprising, more than 40 different EV models can currently be purchased in the U.S., and that number is expected to more than double by 2022. Through July 2020, more than 1.5 million plug-in vehicles have been sold in the U.S., and that rate is forecast to accelerate as the federal government prioritizes EVs, more electric cars hit the market, prices continue to decrease and EV infrastructure grows.

Conservative estimates suggest there could be 3 million electric vehicles on American roads by 2025, with more optimistic forecasts indicating that number could be as high as 6.9 million. Volvo recently announced that they plan to sell only electric vehicles by 2030. Similarly, General Motors plans to phase out gas powered vehicles as well and go fully electric by 2035. Ford and other automotive manufacturers have also announced plans for the expansion of electric vehicle production.

EVs can no longer be categorized as a novelty. They are here to stay.

Automobile plants in at least 20 states are now building electric vehicles, creating thousands of new jobs. Mercedes-Benz is leading the charge in Alabama with a $1 billion, 600-job expansion that includes all-electric vehicle production and a state-of-the-art battery factory in Bibb County. In addition, DURA Automotive Systems announced an investment of $59 million in August 2020  to open a manufacturing facility in Muscle Shoals designed to produce battery trays for electric vehicles.

Thanks to Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Honda and Mazda Toyota, as well as the numerous suppliers, Alabama is well-known as one of the nation’s leaders in the automotive industry. As the No. 4 auto-exporter in the country, our state produced more than 1.6 million engines and featured more than 40,000 good-paying jobs in the sector in 2018.

With the growing shift toward EVs across the auto industry, it is critical that we continue to make significant investments in the expansion and adoption of electric vehicles in Alabama. To that end, last summer Gov. Kay Ivey announced the Alabama Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan, which the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs developed to establish short and long-term strategies to guide the expansion of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state.

Importantly for the consumers in our state, driving an electric vehicle is significantly cheaper than fueling with gasoline, and it’s more convenient to plug in at home than stopping at a gas station on the way to the office. On average, it costs about half as much to drive an electric vehicle as a gasoline-powered vehicle. The electric equivalent of a gallon of gas in Alabama costs just $1.04.

Aside from fuel costs, EV maintenance costs much less than conventional gasoline vehicles, because EVs require no oil changes and have about 10 times fewer moving parts than a gas-powered car. There’s also no transmission, valves, starter, clutch or catalytic converter, all of which can break and need replacing. And don’t forget, all-electric vehicles have no tail pipe emissions. Even taking into account the emissions from the electricity produced to charge EVs, the vehicles on average emit significantly less CO2 than conventional vehicles. Lastly, increasingly efficient technology and widespread adoption of EVs has significantly reduced the overall entry cost of electric cars. An impressive array of affordable EVs is now readily available to consumers.

Electric vehicles are an innovative and growing transportation option and mobility solution. Expanding Alabama’s EV infrastructure and overall investment in EVs will continue to spur growth in our automotive industry, promote clean energy and provide a cheaper fuel alternative for a society on the go.


Dr. Allen Parrish is the Executive Director of the Alabama Transportation Institute and also serves as a Senior Policy Advisor for the Energy Institute of Alabama.

About the Alabama Transportation Institute

The mission of the Alabama Transportation Institute (ATI) at The University of Alabama is to facilitate and reflect world-class leadership in interdisciplinary transportation research that serves the State of Alabama and beyond. ATI is an independent resource that develops unbiased information for use by local, state and national leaders in developing transportation policy.

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