The industry's once-reliable launch rhythm is becoming uncharted.
Every year, Automotive News reporters scour their notes and probe various sources to anticipate automakers' product plans over the next five years. This year's Future Product Pipeline series starts this week with General Motors.
Historically, automakers followed a fairly predictable cadence of face-lifts and redesigns. But as they pivot to electric vehicles — many intend to introduce fully electric lineups within a decade or so — launch and update timing has become less predictable.
Automakers must be flexible as they transition to EVs and begin to retire their internal combustion offerings. Though many of them have publicly announced timing goals for zero-emissions portfolios, goals can and should be adjusted. "Market conditions" are another way to say "reality."
The pace of EV adoption is uncertain, to say the least. How swiftly the market of today — with EVs accounting for 5 percent of new light-vehicle registrations — approaches 2030 targets of 40 or 50 percent EVs depends on consumer interest, charging infrastructure, battery supply and so many other factors.
And political influences don't come only from Washington, D.C., and Sacramento. Other nations are demanding EVs, too — often more forcefully.
In the end, the unknown story is not whether EVs will come to the U.S. — or even which ones — but rather when the ICE age will end.