...a small fraction of the 276 million registered vehicles in the U.S.
But the technology has been advancing rapidly and electric vehicles are expected to overtake the internal combustion engine as the primary method of propulsion in 10 to 20 years.
In a January 2020 report, Boston Consulting Group projected electric vehicles will take a third of the global automobile market in 2025 and 51% by 2030. That projection includes plug-in hybrid vehicles with internal combustion engines, but BCG expects hybrids to fade in market share as battery-electric vehicles gain dominance.
Globally, passenger electric vehicle sales jumped from 450,000 in 2015 to 2.1 million in 2019, BloombergNEF said in a report last May. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed the sale of electric vehicles in 2020 along with all other cars, but BloombergNEF said the industry will recover along with the economy will make up 58% of new passenger car sales by 2040.
The growing use of plug-in electric vehicles powered by batteries is adding another layer of complexity to collision repairs.
Battery packs large enough to power cars are heavier than internal combustion engines, so manufacturers shave weight by building auto bodies out of lightweight materials metals, such as ultra-high-strength steel and carbon fibers, that require different kinds of tools.
The batteries themselves present challenges. A collision can set off a chemical reaction, called a thermal runaway, among the battery cells that will continue burning or reignite after being doused with water, according to report last month by the National Transportation Safety Board. Repair technicians who break into a wrecked electric car can receive a fatal shock by the high-voltage energy stored in the batteries.
An article published in December by Mitchell said parts on electric vehicles such as hoods and fenders are replaced, rather than repaired, more often than with gasoline-burning cars. Electric vehicles often need to be scanned more often and...