Clean Transport

Published on June 10th, 2015 | by Guest Contributor

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Electric Vehicles To Become Mainstream In Short Period Of Time

June 10th, 2015 by  

Originally published on Oilprice.com
by Henry Hewitt

What would the world look like if electric cars took the lead in market share by 2030? “Couldn’t happen,” you say?

Consider the ramping up of some of the most basic items that have conquered the American market over the past century. Refrigerators went from a luxury item to 60 percent household penetration during the Depression and World War II. Technologies we used to live without including PCs, the Internet, and cell phones have become an integral part of daily life.

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Percentage of U.S. Households – Source: Financial Times

Once a breakthrough gets its footing, the rise to mainstream requirement is meteoric and, for reasons unknown (Copernicus has yet to weigh in), the rocket burn lasts about 15 years as the chart above indicates. Trace the rise of both electricity and automobiles. Radios had the sharpest rise of all, which may be why the 1920s were known as the Radio Days. Since the war, color TVs, microwaves, VCRs, PCs, the Internet and cellphones have all caught on as fast as radio. The air-conditioning vector appears to have been bent by the oil embargo in 1973. Auto production sputtered and coughed during the Depression, and throughout the war years, as factories churned out tanks and airplanes. It is not a coincidence that when the stock market peaked in 1929, auto production did too; neither would exceed the 1929 level until 1953.

We are about to find out if electric vehicles can make their mark and become mainstream. The launch sequence and liftoff phase (now barely underway) will soon reveal the extent of their fuel supply, i.e. How much interest will consumers have in EVs when a 200-mile-per-charge car costs less than $25,000? When a 60 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery costs $9,000, there will be plenty of room in the budget to build a lightweight car around it. (UBS says that at $150 per kWh, the key variable in the calculation above, the EV market will take off.

At any price, the cost of ownership falls by 75 percent (not including cheaper insurance and maintenance); gasoline miles costing 12 cents each (at the current mileage standard with $3 per gallon) cannot compete with electric miles costing 3 cents or less.

An average 15,000 mile per year commuter in the US (NHTSA) will save roughly $1,350 in the first year, and the expected 5-year savings are $10,000 (as renewable power gets cheaper and, though no one knows, gasoline could still get a lot more expensive), just the sum needed to put 3 kilowatts (kW) of PV panels on your roof. (You can install 5 kW in Germany for that.) This figure will supply you with all 14,000 miles (from 4,200 kWh – USA average — in the desert in the southwest the output doubles).

However, if your house can’t see the sun, or it points in the wrong direction, or your landlord is not interested, or you live in an apartment or condo, NREL estimates that half of all residential and commercial PV will be ‘shared solar,’ also known as Community Solar, by 2020, when multiple independent owners benefit from a larger centralized array.

But if electric vehicles at all resemble technologies of the past, they could rapidly transform from a niche product into a mainstream necessity in a relatively short period of time.


Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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  • Household Product Acceptance chart with approximated years to go from 1% acceptance (which we are closing in on with EVs in the US currently) to 50% acceptance. The average is a fraction over 20 years, but please note that the recent six items have been accepted faster, in an average of 11.5 years.

  • Household Product Acceptance chart with approximated years to go from 1% acceptance, which we are closing in on with EVs in the US currently, to 50% acceptance. The average is a fraction over 20 years, but please note that the recent six items have been accepted faster, in an average of 11.5 years.

  • Wonderful article. That chart is very revealing. Good news is always great to read. Thanks much!

  • Daimon Sweeney

    At what point on the adoption curve does the demand for liquid fuel start falling below what is necessary to keep gas stations in business? Is there an inflection point where electric charging is ubiquitous and EV adoption is substantial and growing, which decreases the profits of gas stations to the point that they start going out of business?

    Increasingly scarcer fueling options for ICE vehicles would make EVs even more attractive, possibly leading to a death spiral for ICE vehicles. The anticipation of this situation would accelerate the change. Would you buy an equally priced ICE or EV if the fueling options for the ICE were shrinking, affecting not only you but the resale value of the car?

    Of course the oil companies could run their own stations but they cannot do it forever at a loss either.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I suspect fueling stations are already beginning to close. More efficient vehicles and lower miles driven per year is likely pinching the gas business.

      It will be a gradual fadeout.

  • If you don’t have a car you don’t pay anything for miles.

    Keep in mind, there is no such thing as electric asphalt or electric concrete, electric rubber or steel … nor does electricity generate itself. It requires power plants run on cheap coal … or nuclear … all of which requires diesel fuel to mine and transport … also factories that make the electric cars each of which run on natural gas, also factories that make each of the machines that populate the car factories … and machines that make the machine components from the beginning of the supply chains … factories that all run on coal or require diesel to get components from one place to the other.

    There is no electric credit … just the old-fashioned kind where the ‘customer’ sells his grandchild into servitude to pay for the endless, interlocking chains of factories and machines he ‘enjoys’ in the present. The world has already bankrupted itself many times over borrowing to pay for the old-school petroleum waste … people are supposed to bankrupt themselves again for this folly.

    The few thousand electric cars that scurry around presently do not tax the grid, how can the same creaky grid support a mass increase in kw demand? What of the presently (financed) petroleum distribution infrastructure? It won’t be abandoned b/c it cost too much = sunk ‘capital’.

    An electric car is still a car; an electric motor is simply an different form of transmission … the prime mover is still fossil fuel.

    Just get rid of the cars … before they get rid of us.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Steve, the energy world is changing. Factories run mostly on electricity now and we are replacing coal with renewable generation. Later on we’ll replace natural gas.

      Transportation is starting to electrify. Oil will soon start to go the way of coal.

      People who are willing to work in order to purchase a car will buy cars. The task is to give them a better option than the gasmobile. At the same time we need to continue improving public transportation and bike/walkways so that fewer people want to own a car.

      • alan2102

        “Steve, the energy world is changing.”

        Or: the world is changing, period.

        That’s what the nihilistic doomer/peak-oil crowd cannot understand. I mean literally, they cannot comprehend that things have changed. Their view of renewables is from 1995, as though nothing has changed since then. I do not exaggerate.

        • Bob_Wallace

          True enough. I think the wind and solar industry associations have not done a good enough job of getting price information out to the general public.

  • Donald Zenga

    5 years ago I thought that after the success of Hybrids, Plugins will be the next technology to succeed and Electric vehicles are 10 years away.

    I was surprised at the progress of EVs. Thanks to the drop in battery prices and the Tesla’s blazing achievements. We should also laud Nissan’s effort in carrying the lead the World over.

  • UKGary

    Whilst the present generation of electric vehicle use Lithium batteries, this will not necessarily be the case in the future.

    There are several new battery technologies which might begin to displace lithium in the near future.

    Calcium ion batteries are under development, and likely to achieve similar energy density to Lithium.

    Zinc Air batteries are already reaching the market place, with the prospect of higher energy density than Lithium.

    Also possible are next generation Ultra capacitors based on Carbon Nanotube structures. These are projected to match the energy density of Lithium batteries with the capability to charge in seconds, and an expected life linger than your average vehicle.

    One or more of these options are likely to offer lower costs, simpler management of the charging process, and longer battery life.

  • Brett

    There is also a massive variable which hasn’t been factored in to this analysis, mostly because its too difficult to estimate at this point. while everyone is talking electric cars, the talk about autonomous vehicles has been increasing exponentially as well.

    Many industry experts are of the mind that autonomous vehicles will be more fleet based, than individually owned, so all of a sudden if you start removing millions of vehicles from the roads because an autonomous fleet can manage the same demand for personal transport, the adoption rate could accelerate very rapidly indeed.

    Could be a total pipe dream, but 15 years seems like a long time in terms of technological evolution.

    • UKGary

      I very much agree, this could result in an even greater overall cash saving – with most people having no need to own a vehicle, or to have a parking space to put it when not in use.

      What’s more, a multi-user vehicle is less capital cost sensitive due to its higher intensity of use (shared over more miles per annum)

      • Adrian

        Even the range problem goes away. We’re used to changing trains and changing planes when making long journeys. How is changing self-driving cars mid-trip any different?

    • Kevin McKinney

      Yes, I’ve been thinking about that, too. In our household, much of the need for two vehicles would be eliminated by having just one autonomous one.

      (Though some days we both need to carry so much work-related ‘stuff’ that I’m actually imagining us each with a robotic ‘porter’ as adjunct to transport and secure it for us!)

  • Once economies of scale and the learning curve kick in, the sticker price of an EV should be substantially less than that of a comparable ICE vehicle, simply because there are less moving parts and subsystems.
    When you think about it, it’s surprising that a mode of transportation based on thousands of gasoline explosions per minute works at all.

    Once the thousands-of-explosions infrastructure is removed, there’s more room for technological innovation. Four wheel steering could make parking a breeze. Active intelligent suspension could hop over potholes without a car’s occupants feeling anything.

  • Brian

    I think the wildcard here is the Organic Transit solar powered ELF that only cost $5,000 and requires no license, insurance, and registration. If we reduced the speed limit to 35 MPH in cities in towns across the USA, 85% of our vehicle trips which are within 10 miles could be used with the ELF which can recharge itself in 7 hours with it’s solar panel on top. Electric cars are still way to expensive with the Leaf costing $28,000. Not everyone can use the tax rebate, and the cost is still to high. Velomobiles like the ELF are much cheaper, more efficient, and require much less expensive maintenance than full size electric cars. As battery range improves and batteries get cheaper, through mass production, longer range electric cars like the Chevy bolt which will go 200 miles to a charge, can be used for longer trips. Solar electric charging stations must be built across the country to charge electric vehicles for long trips.

  • Richard Foster

    Is the limiting factor surely not cost (because by the time fuel, maintenance etc gets taken into account, then EVs are cheaper than ICEs anyway), and of course, the price will fall dramatically in the next 5 years, in a similar way to Solar Panels.

    No, surely the limiting factor is the limited amount of Lithium in the world? There isn’t a great deal and mining what we have and refining it etc isn’t exactly the cleanest industry….(but maybe be a necessary evil to destroy the oil and FF hegemony).

    Now if someone can get a commercial production of a Aluminium-air battery to work on a scale to power an EV, we’re off to the races…

    • JamesWimberley

      There is no shortage of lithium, and at a pinch it can be extracted from seawater or geothermal brine. Limited demand up to now has meant limited exploration for good deposits. Note also that as a metal it can be recycled indefinitely.

      • Adrian

        “Peak lithium” has every appearance of being oil-industry-sponsored FUD. See also, “Merchants of Doubt.”

    • Bob_Wallace

      The US has a massive amount of available lithium, a tremendous amount really close to the new Tesla/Panasonic GigaFactory. ;o)

      There are large amounts of lithium in sites around the world. And as James states, the oceans are full of lithium.

      People get confused about the amount of lithium because the look at “production” or “reserve” numbers and not at occurrence.

      • sjc_1

        20 kg of lithium in an S85.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’m seeing one place claim 14.2 kg in an 85 kWh pack. 11.7 kg in a 70 kWh pack.

          http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/26/the-tesla-gigafactories-are-coming-can-global-lith.aspx

          Then someone else pencils out 21.4 kg.

          http://my.teslamotors.com/it_IT/forum/forums/technical-battery-discussion

          Is there a definitive source?

          BTW, 4 kg in a Leaf 24 kWh pack. Extrapolating that would mean 14.2 kg in an 85 kWh pack.

          At 20 mg lithium per kg of Earth’s crust, lithium is the 25th most abundant element. Nickel and lead have about the same abundance. There are approximately 39 million tonnes of accessible lithium in the Earth’s crust

          The Nissan Leaf contains 4 kg of lithium. Assuming 2.1x as much for each Mod3 50 kWh pack. 39 million tonnes = 4,640,000,000 EVs.

          At some point we start recycling.

          And if we’re still using lithium further down the road there are approximately 208,652,550,000 tonnes of lithium in seawater.

        • Robert Haylar

          Assuming 3g/cell; around 20kg for 85kWhr.
          Theoretically, only 6.2kg is necessary.
          There is also approximately 20kg of copper, for example.
          Total of all cell materials is 320kg.

          In the struggle for commodities and cell production, the car using the least cell materials, will have a distinct advantage, as will the cell chemistry that makes the best use of Lithium.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Someone (Navigant Research) has calculated that there is about $70 worth of materials in a kWh of Tesla/Panasonic batteries. I wonder if that number can be reduced much, if there is room for a significant competitive edge for a battery technology that uses less materials?

            Bringing the cost down 10% would mean about $350 in a 50 kWh car. A difference but perhaps not a huge drop in the MSRP.

          • Robert Haylar

            $70 is about right – materials are around 60% of cell cost, where volume production is assumed.

            Much of that cost is in general commodities; aluminum and copper foils, graphite, hydrocarbons (electrolyte).

            Perhaps only the cathode materials, separator and electrolyte additives are exclusive to cells.

            NMC is a chemistry that makes better use of Lithium.

            Not all of the Lithium can be extracted from LCO, because in general terms, removing too much causes the cathode to collapse. The addition of ‘manganese’ prevents that collapse, so more Lithium can be extracted. But, the additional material reduces energy density.
            It’s easy to see from the known material costs, that further reduction in those costs, can’t offset substantially increased material use.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Thanks.

            Getting battery prices down to around $100/kwh would definitely solve our need to replace ICEVs. A “normal” 50 kWh/200+ mile range EV would be cheaper to buy than a same-model ICEV. And, for those who need it, a 70 to 100 kWh pack EV would not be prohibitively expensive.

            A 200+ mile EV for most of us for about $20k. A 400+ mile EV for under $40k for the ‘traveling salesperson’ with a route through Montana, North Dakota, and other parts sparsely settled.

            Just a point. When one comments on this site the comments are seen by a wide range of people, most of whom will not know what abbreviations such as NMC or LCO stand for. It’s a good idea to remember that one is writing for a general audience. Try to avoid industry jargon as much as possible. If not possible then toss in a quick explanation and spell out the full terms the first time used.

          • Robert Haylar

            I would expect that the next Leaf and Volt type vehicles will have 200mile range.
            All new cell technologies seem to be one step forward, and one step back, so I doubt that Nissan or BMW have solved that one, but are employing ideas such as solid electrolytes and laminated cells, that have been collecting dust for lack of a market. Cells that don’t heat up, don’t need cooling, and that is a substantial cost saving. Repackaging existing chemistries, appears to be the way manufacturers are progressing. Efficient vehicles can get by on a smaller battery etc.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I doubt that. The next Leaf will be, I hope, at least a “solid 100 mile” EV. A minimum of 100 mile range under the worst of circumstances. Good for somewhere in the 130 mile range for normal driving. The next Volt will probably get closer to 50 miles.

            The only players we see right now for the 200 mile range are the Bolt and Mod3.

            It’s hard to guess where and when other car companies will decide to jump in. Most seem to be looking at starting with Leaf-like ranges and working up. I think there would be a very large market for a car that one could count on for 100 miles under worst conditions and that sold for $25k or less.

            I’m guessing that there is a big psychological difference between 99 miles and 100 miles.

            I expect we’ll see big changes in battery tech over the next ten years. It’s been only a few years since spending on battery technology zoomed. There are probably better ideas working their way to the market now and others about to exit the lab. My guess is that capacity will grow much faster than is has historically. (Although cell phones and laptops as well as digital cameras have pushed battery tech along.)

          • Robert Haylar

            For the Leaf, it won’t take double the existing battery capacity to see 200miles. I think they will offer that range soon, because simulations suggest they can.

            There are always promised batteries, but if the phone industry were to have waited for them, we would not have the phones we do. Manufacturers focused on reducing phone power consumption, while telecoms companies built more masts that reduced phone transmitter power.
            EV’s are like that. Battery too big, not so good for the overall cost and functionality of the car. Capacity can be reduced by more efficient vehicles, and charging stations take care of the remainder.

            Customers always overestimate how often they will need to charge personal power packs. A form of ‘range anxiety’
            When told the battery is good for 300 cycles, they get worried, but the average life is closer to three years than one. A ‘state of health’ display helps sort out the heavily used packs from the remainder. It’s a compromise that seems to work.

          • Bob_Wallace

            What’s your math for taking a 24 kWh Leaf from an 84 mile EV to a 200 mile EV? Where do they put the extra batteries in a car that already is kind of full. How many kWh do you see them needing to almost triple (2.5x) the present range?

          • Robert Haylar

            It’s not so simple as to multiply. Range is not strictly linearly related to capacity. Some time ago, Tesla performed a simulation of the forthcoming Model S. The chart plots vehicle speed against range. Maximum range (450miles) was shown at 20mph. Slower and range is less, faster and range is less, but 250miles at 50mph.
            Different vehicles have different profiles of that nature.
            Also, capacity is related to rate of discharge. It’s possible to tailor that battery and motor capacity to achieve maximum range. NCA cells always suffer reduced capacity at higher discharge rates – much more so than other types.
            All in all, for the Leaf, it won’t be necessary to double capacity to reach 200 miles. There are assumptions made in those models, but Nissan have hinted they may offer that range, and models based around EPA testing, suggest they can. For what it’s worth, current users report in excess of 110miles.
            The Leaf is well studied, and has sufficient vehicles on the road to justify results. There are other vehicles that may match what they may offer.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Range is not strictly linearly related to capacity. ”

            Of course not. But can you not make some sort of an educated guess as to what it would take to turn an 84 mile range Leaf into a 200 mile EV? I assumed you had worked it out when you said ” it won’t take double the existing battery capacity to see 200 miles”.

            Yes, driven carefully under the best conditions it’s possible to get 100 miles or more out of a Leaf, but we tend to use the EPA number for comparison as it’s a more standardized measurement.

            The distance for a Tesla S on a single charge is 425.8 miles (685.3 km) but in order to keep drag at a minimum the car was driven at an average speed of 18 MPH.

            Actually I think Nissan has hinted a 120 to 150 range for the next Leaf model.

          • Robert Haylar

            Some numbers have to be estimated from what is unknown about Nissan’s cells, and likely improvement, but perhaps an additional 60%.
            There is some benefit in adding capacity to reduce depth of discharge, so the increase may be larger, but then again, there will be improvement by reduction of the (relative) rate of discharge, that reduces the need to double. Yes, of course, the models are based upon EPA testing protocols.
            In Dec 2014, Nissan hinted that 400km (249miles) “could be no more than one model cycle away” suggesting the next model. They do talk of a “48kWhr battery” but it need not be that big, at least for 200mile range.

            (The Tesla data you have, must be from another chart, or real measurement, because the speed is slightly less than the 20mph of the version I have seen)

            Where I currently live, charging stations appear overnight – literally. A new one appeared last week, that was not there the previous day. They are pillars over 1m tall, 30cm square. Two receptacles each, operated by RFID card. The user may select the energy supplier. By the end of the year, all local buses will be electric.

          • Bob_Wallace

            So you are guessing that Nissan could build a 200+ mile range Leaf using about 38 kWh of batteries. Possibly, if they moved to a much more aerodynamic shape (a la’ Aptera) and used a lot of exotic lightweight materials.

            I’m not going to expect that to happen.

          • Robert Haylar

            It’s not a guess, nor a premonition, but a project undertaken by an engineer as part of his studies. Nothing to do with what Nissan say.

            The EPA tests are run on a dyno, so easy to simulate, but the way they measure battery capacity is rather crude.

            Vehicle models suggest that the car can travel 100miles on about 20kWhr, but could do better.

            Then there is potential to increase cell capacity to 170W/kg.

            If Nissan do both, then 200miles is possible.
            Not so unusual really. The ill-fated EV1 from 1999 managed 60miles on lead-acid, then 150 on 24.6kwh of Nickel-Metal Hydride. True, that car had a low Cd, but modern cars have better batteries, electronics etc.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Vehicle models suggest that the car can travel 100miles on about 20kWhr, but could do better.”

            With Nissan’s aerodynamics?

            ​”​
            Then there is potential to increase cell capacity to 170W/kg.
            ​”​

            Potential is not in hand. The Leaf now uses
            140 Wh/kg
            ​ batteries. Do you have specific knowledge that Nissan can access 170Wh/kg batteries at a reasonable price?

            (That’s a 21.4% capacity increase.)​

          • Robert Haylar

            The car is already known to travel more than 110miles on one charge. The BMW can travel 110miles on 18kWhr.
            It is not at all unreasonable to question that it takes 24kWhr of energy to move a car 84miles.

            I know the capacity change is a relatively large increase. ( cell capacity is 155kWhr/kg. Increase that, but keep all else the
            same, and the battery density improves even more.)

            Nissan have alluded to improved batteries. It’s not at all impossible to see that increase in a large format cell. Without increased battery density, it would be more difficult to add more capacity. I have no idea how much Nissan pay for their cells, but they do.

          • Rui Fonseca

            I don’t see a psychological difference between 159 and 160 km 😛

      • Epicurus

        “Frederick Douglass” claims “batteries for EVs are an environmental disaster.” Any truth to this?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Hard to see how.

          I would imagine that there could be some materials mining that could be done improperly but the lithium mined in the US, for example, will have to follow EPA regs. We’ve got plenty very nasty oil extraction around the world. Hard to imagine scraping up lithium salts in Bolivia ever getting even 0.01% as bad as Canadian tar sands.

          Used batteries will have value. People won’t just chuck them out along country roads. (Even if they could lift them.)

          Batteries can be recycled. There just aren’t enough used batteries to start recycling yet. ICEVs emit massive amounts of pollutants that EVs don’t emit and lead to massive oil spills.

          If one makes the assumption that 100% of the charging electricity comes from coal then EVs are probably a bit worse than an efficient ICEV, but grids are not 100% coal and getting cleaner.

          I think we all realize that oil and the CO2 it produces are environmental disasters on an immense scale. Ol’ Frederick is probably shoveling bull for the Koch boys.

          • Epicurus

            That’s what I thought. I told him to take his right wing propaganda elsewhere. Another part of their disinformation campaign is that natural processes clean up oil in the ocean. Yes, as to naturally occurring oil seaps, but nature cannot clean up millions of gallons of oil like that released by BP in the Gulf without horrific damage to the marine environment. I wonder if people like him are paid to post this krap on sites like this. They have no shame.

    • Adrian

      Platinum is an extremely rare and very expensive metal, and a quantity of it is required for every internal combusion engine’s emission treatment system.

      Clearly there is a limit to the number of internal combustion engines which can be produced. 100 million per year should be completely unfeasable…

      • Kevin McKinney

        I like that point…

      • sjc_1

        “should be completely (unfeasible)”

        The world produces more than 80 million per year now,

        • Adrian

          Precisely my point. 🙂

          • sjc_1

            They will produce more than 100 million units per year soon, which refutes your assertion.

    • JonathanMaddox

      There’s more lithium on the planet than there is lead.

  • JamesWimberley

    Two reasons for doubt that evs will naturally follow a rapid 15-year logistic curve.
    1. Cars are much, much more expensive for consumers than anything else in the chart. That’s why ICE cars didn’t follow a classic curve in the 20th century.
    2. EVs are only an incremental improvement on ICE cars in terms of use, and in some respects are not an improvement at all. It’s very unlikely that evs will become markedly superior in function. (Laptops are replacing desktop PCs, but quite slowly.) The big gain is in the pollution externality, which carries no price tag.

    The wild card here is policy. If cities or countries get serious about urban air pollution, they can drive for rapid adoption. The switch in buses and taxis may be very fast. Watch China and California in cars.

    • Richard Foster

      I suspect the adoption of ICEs was more effected by the Great Depression in the 30s, followed by the Second World War and the recovery from it.

      If omit the 40s and 50s from the ICE curve, it’s very close to other technologies.

      I also disagree that EVs aren’t superior in function – ok they may not be “better” in terms of features – but given they *will* be the same price as a conventional vehicle in 5 years, with much, much cheaper fuel and minimal maintenance costs. I’d argue that they are therefore superior in terms of cost.

      The biggest problem with EVs is going to be the availability of Lithium for the batteries.

      • FruityPimpernel

        Agree with James that the electrification of buses and taxis may surprise as the most rapid arena of electrification. Smarter approaches to transit driven by a smartphone networked population and new innovative providers (ending ultimately in robocars) may well drive down the ownership of cars altogether – electric or dinosaur juice powered ones. Surely the car of choice these days isn’t a supercar, it’s a chauffeur-driven one so we are never denied a moment in which we can safely paw at our devices and amuse ourselves with LOLcats.

      • JamesWimberley

        The Depression didn’t slow down fridges, which started later than cars. The difference is the price.

        I agree that evs will eventually become cheaper than ICE cars on a total-cost-of-ownership basis. But they are not there yet, so the functional (as opposed to ideological and external) advantages are still slim. The cost transition will be slow. Contrast an early fridge, radio, tv, computer, smartphone: there was nothing else remotely like it. Electrical lighting was preceded by gas, far inferior for the purpose.

      • sjc_1

        Plenty of lithium.

    • TedKidd

      Yep, if externalities get priced in, this may happen in LESS than 15 years.

    • eveee

      James – big ticket or not, the biggest factors are replacement rate and cost. Maintenance costs are consistently overlooked, but are a major factor in EVs favor. A check of cost of ownership for a Nissan Leaf vs Corolla shows a more than 5 k advantage for Leaf over 5 years.
      The cost of FF will only increase, furthering EVs advantage. Taxis and commercial transport will adopt fastest due to cost advantage.
      Consumer purchase is more capricious, but the big sell of acceleration and surprisingly, quietness has been used to great advantage, notably by Tesla. The pull of modernity and keeping up with the Joneses will do a lot to boost EV sales once the magical 200 mile, 35k $ barrier is broken.
      Tesla has positioned itself like Apple, to be the provider of the latest technology that everyone wants.

    • Adrian

      After driving one for a couple weeks, I’m given to argue that they are qualitatively better than equivalent gas vehicles – quieter, smoother, more convenient, less fatiguing, and with superior handling and performance qualities. Theoretically lower maintenance and longer service life as well (remains to be proven).

      The price/range conundrum needs resolving, but is getting better quickly.

  • Frederik

    If it is really true that an affordable 200-mile car is coming soon, and affordable 300 mile cars only a few years later, then I think the end of the gasoline car is near. Who will still want a gasoline car then?

    • Cosmo Kramer

      You really think you can keep them from pumping oil? They’ll just keep lowering the price. Maybe we’ll outlaw gasoline cars here, but countries like china are putting these small vehicles which are relative gas hogs (compared to what you think they might get) by the droves. We can’t legislate what other countries use. I think every easily accessible oil pocket will be eventually be sucked dry.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The Chinese government is putting significant effort into moving drivers into EVs.

  • tibi stibi

    exciting times 🙂 some 5 years ago i predicted that in 2020 more than 50% of new cars will be electric. i still hope i will be right 🙂

    • jeffthewalker

      Some 5 years ago I predicted that it would be hard to find a gas station selling petrol in 2020. I still think I have a chance.

      • Michael G

        Let’s see, if 1 Gigafactory can supply 0.5M Teslas/year, then 32 Gigafactories would be necessary to supply the 16M cars sold in the US every year. Sure, why not? Build 6 new Gigafactories every year and you’re done!

        • Noel ‘n Bev Petzer

          Why build in the US?

          I known Elon Musk was back in South Africa recently and he did not rule out, nor commit to, building a GF here.

          A lot cheaper than the US to build, and run here than in the US, plus given the cost structures of African markets, EV technology makes sense …

          All he needs is an EV version of a mini bus (taxi) … install High Speed charge points at Taxi ranks (Local Government would do it), and you have an instant and very lucrative vehicle market up and running, which would rapidly spread from the South Northwards thru the continent.

          This would be very popular among the poorer class in South Africa as it could lower the cost of mass transport … and be attractive to taxi operators as it would reduce cost of ownership …

          The Taxi operators do have the financial ability to pay for the EV taxis if the TCO makes financial sense, and it should. ie if the taxi costs 50% more than a non-EV, but the operating costs are 75% less, then they will do it. It just makes cents …

          The taxi ranks in most urban environments are ideal for siteing solar charging (large scale PV) … plus Africa has a lot of sun, just makes sense or cents!

          As for the taxis themselves, why not partner with Toyota or some Chinese company already producing taxis? Let them do the heavy lifting, while Tesla focuses on the batteries and electric motors … again … makes sense to work with the guys who are already in the market …

          Just a dream … would be great if it happened …

      • tibi stibi

        i hope you win!!

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