Decoding automakers’ promises about electric vehicles

Car buyers need to add a new nugget to their vocabulary: the difference between what automakers are promising — and charging for — when they talk about “electrification” vs. “electric” vehicles. The difference matters, in price, fuel economy, emissions, and perhaps most important, drivers’ expectations.

At the same time, people like me who report on the auto industry have to stop declaring the end of the petroleum age every time an automaker expresses enthusiasm for electric vehicles.

A future of all-electric vehicles may be inevitable, but it is not imminent. Realistic projections say millions of petroleum-burning vehicles will be in use around the world for decades.