The Electric Car Is Here — If You’ve Got The Money

The annual parade of the world’s biggest auto shows is about to start this week in Paris, and for what really feels like the first time, a number of carmakers are finalizing, building, selling, or even nearing the delivery of their first flagship electric cars. And these aren’t just concepts, or camouflaged pre-production cars like we’ve seen in the past. EVs from big-name luxury brands like Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW are on the way, meaning incumbents in the space, like Tesla, will soon have lots of direct competition.

But only a few models will approach the more affordable mid-$30,000 starting price set by GM’s Bolt. That means many of the fully electric vehicles scheduled to hit the US market in the next few years will start at or comfortably exceed the average sale price of a car in the country. The electric car may finally be here, but it’s still not going to be for everyone.

Electric cars are supposed to help the world cut back on the emissions caused by transportation, which makes up for a large chunk of the world’s overall numbers. Even if you set aside other market forces that could stop people from switching to an all-electric car (spotty charging infrastructure, range anxiety), the focus on EVs as luxury vehicles means this potential relief is still theoretical.

This week’s Paris Motor Show — which will spotlight luxury EVs from the likes of Mercedes and Audi, but will be skipped by more attainable brands like VW and Ford — looks like it will be a stark reminder of this. It’s ironic, really, since it takes place in the city after which the most ambitious climate action plan in history was named.

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