Dawn of the electric vehicle age? One car shopper’s experience.


Seated for the first time in an electric car – a Ford Mustang Mach-E so new it doesn’t have a sticker price yet – Mary Beermann has a broad grin on her face. She struggles to open the doors, the trunk, and even the cover to the connector plug – a boomer flailing in the push-button dawn of the electric-car age.

But none of this seems to daunt her.

“I think this is it,” she says. “This is my next car.”

Why We Wrote This

Many people tout the coming electric vehicle revolution. Yet EVs still make up only 1.8% of the car market. Will the early 2020s end up being a pivot point for the industry, or will EVs remain a novelty?

It’s partly my doing, really. A few weeks earlier, Mary had called me to ask for friendly advice about buying an electric car. I had almost bought one three years earlier. So when I was ready to write a story on whether electric cars are winning over the public, I asked Mary if I could tag along while she went through her buying process. And that is why, after a ridiculously early flight from Boston, I am standing with Mary at Ford’s outdoor demo area at the Chicago Auto Show in the rain.

Around the show, as in America’s public consciousness, electric cars keep popping up. New entrepreneurs, as well as established automakers, are tooling production lines to build them. Scientists are racing to improve batteries. Investors are banking millions on the hope they’ve found the next Henry Ford. It’s a burst of innovation not seen since the dawn of the auto age.