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New EVs will more likely be crossovers, SUVs

Now, automakers are targeting more than just performance and looks as they seek to design EVs that can finally generate meaningful volume, too.

Brauer said the Chevrolet Bolt EV and luxury offerings such as the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi E-tron have failed to “move the needle” on demand for battery-electric powertrains.

Upcoming EVs aim to change that by homing in on the compact-crossover segment that now leads U.S. new-vehicle sales. Automakers sold more than 2.8 million compact crossovers in the U.S. in 2019, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

Scott Keogh, CEO of Volkswagen of America, said the company sees a major opportunity in the segment because it doesn’t yet contain a compelling electric offering, even though many compact-crossover customers “have an interest in the environment.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has predicted the Model Y, which went on sale in March, eventually will outsell the rest of Tesla’s combined lineup.

It’s an open question, though, whether customers will be willing to pay a premium for an EV instead of opting for less-expensive gas or hybrid models. And Brauer cautioned that an increase in demand isn’t a given just because numerous automakers are targeting a popular segment.

“It’s an important step, but with multiple crossovers out there powered by batteries, we can see that in and of itself is not enough,” he said. “There’s still multiple steps: cost, range and fueling time. You’re not going to get internal-combustion-like sales of EVs until you get parity.”

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