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Sustainable Energy

The Paris Motor Show Confirms It: The Future Is Electric

Any automaker worth its salt is showing off a battery-powered car.

As the doors open at the Paris Motor Show, one thing is being made abundantly clear about the future of the automobile: it’s electric.

It’s been widely reported that many automakers are starting to skip big car shows. Ford, Volvo, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, and Lamborghini are among the manufacturers who, Bloomberg claims, would rather skip the French spectacle and spread word of new cars on social media or at more exclusive events.

But for those that are in Paris, it’s clearly tres chic to be showing off an electric car.

Perhaps the most notable announcements are of the cars that regular people will buy. Renault, for instance, has unveiled its new electric car, called Zoe. It’s claimed to have a range of an impressive 250 miles—about the same as a Tesla Model S. Unlike the Tesla, however, it will cost around $30,000 when it goes on sale later this year in Europe. That pits it against both the Chevrolet Bolt, due later this year for $37,500, and the Tesla Model 3, due next year for $35,000.

Renault's Zoe boasts a range of nearly 250 miles.

Elsewhere, Smart has announced a new electric version of its ForTwo city car, including a cabriolet version (which will make it the only all-electric convertible currently on sale). It will have a range of only 100 miles, but will cost $26,000 when it goes on sale in Europe (it will also go on sale in the U.S. during the first half of 2017). BMW has also refreshed its small i3 electric car with a new battery pack to give it a range of 125 miles.

Not all the announcements will be on the road just yet, though. Mercedes-Benz has created a concept for a battery-powered SUV that can cover 310 miles on a charge, and Volkswagen’s futuristic-looking I.D prototype is designed to achieve 380 miles. But neither of those will be available until 2020.

The list, it has to be said, goes on. Vans from Volkswagen, a plug-in hybrid version of Porsche's  Panamera, and … look, according to the Wall Street Journal, about two dozen new electric vehicles will be announced at the show. We won't list them all here.

To be sure, these vehicles won’t all be on our roads in the near future. But it seems that almost every manufacturer is readying an electric vehicle to be launched within the next four years. That timing neatly coincides with predictions made by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which suggest that, based on trends in battery prices, the 2020s will be when electric cars take over from their gasoline counterparts.

Those who visit the Paris Motor Show will be shocked it isn’t sooner.

(Read more: The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, “The 2020s Could Be the Decade When Electric Cars Take Over,” “The Chevrolet Bolt Has Totally Trumped Tesla’s Model 3”)

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Renault's Zoe boasts a range of nearly 250 miles.

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