My 2021 Predictions

A new year calls for a good sunrise photo

Funny story — this winter, my wife, who works in politics, was very pregnant while toiling away in the run-up to the November election, and subsequently on the Georgia runoff race. I joked that she’d go into labor on the runoff election day, so she could keep up that high-intensity lifestyle.

And then…..that happened. So, my predictions are a little late this year, but I am happy to be approaching them with the newfound wisdom (?) of being a new Dad.

Like previous years, I’ve made 5 predictions for the new year. This year, my topics relate to electric vehicles, Federal policymaking, 5G, and two on the Pandemic (seemed big enough to warrant it). At the end of the year I’ll review and see how things turned out.

Big Sales Numbers for the Ford Mustang Mach E

The Ford Mustang Mach E will charge out of the gates to become the best selling non-Tesla in the US. This should put it 3rd overall (behind the Model 3 and Model X). Currently, the Model 3 (and Tesla more generally) is heads and shoulders above the competition — Tesla sold around 200,000 Model 3 units in 2020; the Chevy Bolt was the closest non-Tesla, and sold around 20,000. I’m very bullish on the Mustang Mach E. It is one of the first mainstream electric cars (technically a crossover) that a legacy automaker is selling as a car first and an EV second. As a crossover, it also happens to be the type of vehicle that Americans prefer to purchase right now. And Ford has skin in the game selling this car, branding it as a Mustang, and putting real marketing dollars into the campaign.

An Era of Surprisingly Collaborative Policymaking in DC

It may be hard to see from here, but I think 2021 will actually be an incredibly productive year from the perspective of policymaking and federal legislation.

I don’t want to suggest the hyperpartisanship is going to go away (I don’t think it will), but I think there’s a good chance we’ll see a number of substantive legislative proposals pass with some bipartisan support. Between pandemic stimulus, infrastructure legislation, executive authority reforms, and voter access/election reform, I think we’ll see 3 of those 4 be passed in 2021. And looking further into the future, it wouldn't be a shock to see legislative action on topics like tech regulation, trade deals, immigration, or energy either (although there is only so much time, and I admittedly tend to be on the optimistic side).

5G Will Roll Out With Excitement, But To No Immediate Benefit

Last year I suggested nothing interesting would happen with regards to Virtual Reality. This year I think it’s 5G’s turn. I predict that people using 5G phones won’t be able to tell the difference between 4G and 5G. To test this prediction, I’ll run a nonscientific test with some friends who have 5G phones in Q4 of 2021 (to allow time for network buildout), have them toggle between 4G and 5G for a couple of days, and see if they notice a difference. And I’m not suggesting 5G isn’t faster, it is just not clear to me that the incremental speed improvement will visible on a day to day basis at this point.

The Pandemic Will Still Be With Us in the Fall

Vaccines have started to roll out (and I’m optimistic their deployment will accelerate considerably), new vaccines are coming down the pike, and new resources are about to be marshaled to address the pandemic.

However, I think we will still be dealing with the pandemic in the fall, both because of limitations in vaccine deployment capacity and resistance among some citizens to taking the vaccine. To measure this guess, I predict the September kickoff to the NFL season will not allow fans at full capacity in the stadium. I hope I’m wrong! And that said….

This Fourth of July Will Be An EPIC Party

It’s been a long year of lockdowns and people distanced from family and friends. While I do think large group events will still be encumbered this summer, there will still be a lot of vaccinated people out there who will be traveling and socializing for the first time in a long while. I think this Fourth of July will be the most bombastic and eventful Independence Day celebration in my lifetime. As a proxy, I will use fireworks injuries — 2021 (and the month around the Fourth of July specifically) will be a statistical outlier for fireworks injuries.

I work at Clean Energy Trust in Chicago. I’m passionate about clean energy, innovation, and market driven solutions.