Published on August 12th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan0
What Will The End Of Gasoline Cars Look Like?
August 12th, 2016 by Zachary Shahan
We spend a lot of time here on CleanTechnica explaining why electric vehicles will take over the transport industry, why your next car should be an electric car, and how the early phase of this transition is moving along. At the moment, just about 1% of new car sales are plug-in car sales, but many of us are convinced that electric car sales are ready to invade the mainstream market and start snowballing in growth in a much more obvious way.
The question I want to have some fun with in this article is, how differently will the personal transport industry look and function once we’re closer to the end of the transition — once >50% of new car sales are electric?
Oh, shit, where’s my gas station?
One thing that is likely to propel the snowballing growth of electric cars at some point will be the disappearance of gas stations. It seems sort of obvious, but it’s also something most of us have probably not considered. (Credit to reader Bob Wallace for first bringing this point into my mind.)
Lack of public EV charging stations is one of the last practical hurdles* of broad EV adoption, but one of the great benefits of electric cars is that they can be charged using any electricity outlet, including outlets in home garages, on the walls of workplaces, etc. Gas cars have no such advantage. Once gas stations start getting pinched from a shifting car market, they will become harder and harder to find. As they become harder and harder to find, more people will despise the inconvenience of going to a gas station and will switch to EVs. It’ll be a beautiful feedback loop.
Even if gas stations adapt a bit and install EV charging stalls, the point remains that charging can be done at homes, workplaces, parks, shopping malls, etc. Fewer people will be visiting these Snickers & Sprite outlets and they will increasingly go out of business, making life tougher and tougher on gasmobile owners.
What now, ICE heads?
At the beginning of the electric vehicle transition, there are many options at the disposal of auto executives to slow adoption and pretend that gasmobiles will be popular for decades to come. As the transition speeds up, they will be under more and more pressure to apologize for their late movement in the market and to get their house in order. We’re already inching into this, with shareholders pressuring executives at Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Fiat-Chrysler, Nissan, and Renault to explain what their responses are to the Tesla Model 3.
Executives who have had a tougher time accepting the future will be welcomed to early retirement. Up-and-coming EV experts and fans will take control of the wheel. They will try to steer the companies to safety in the midst of excessive torque and spin. If they like challenges, they will certainly be enjoying themselves, because they will be in for a grand one.
We can breathe again!
Breathing is overrated, right? Many of us take air pollution for granted — “hey, that’s just city life.” We don’t appreciate how dangerous it is, how often it leads to cancer, or how it affects our thinking abilities. As we shift to electric cars, buses, and trucks, though, many of us will come to appreciate the pleasant fresh air and higher quality of life. Perhaps we won’t notice that our cognitive abilities are sharper, but they will be.
Visiting a polluted city will come as a shock. The remaining gasmobiles will stand out more. Many cities will decide it’s time to ban polluting vehicles from their centers (some have already done so).
We can see again!
Here’s a picture of Paris in smog:
Here’s a picture of the Paris I love:
Which do you prefer?
A reader tells me that you can rarely see the mountains just outside of Los Angeles (in the picture below). What a shame — it’s a beautiful scene. When electric vehicles start taking over, though, the mountains will increasingly be visible.
Man, who’s driving that noisy car?
As cars get quieter and quieter (by dropping the ICE engine and going electric), people will stop accepting the noise of inefficient fossil beasts. We will come to appreciate the quieter lifestyle and other sounds of the city. At some point, noisy gas cars will stand out to us in such a way that we will wonder why everyone isn’t driving electric yet. (Naturally, this has already occurred for many EV drivers, but imagine when >50% of cars are electric — I would hope that everyone is noticing the difference by then.)
Where can I get someone to fix my car, dude?
Try finding someone who can fix a film camera these days. Try finding someone who can fix a typewriter. Similar to the gas station dilemma, as fewer and fewer gas cars are being sold, mechanics who can fix them will drop off the map. Parts will also be harder to come by. The costs to fix a gasmobile will go up. This will again propel the EV transition forward at a faster pace, growing the snowball.
Cancer, heart disease, & asthma rates will drop.
(Yes, this is related to the “breathing” point, but it’s worth highlighting by itself.)
Who’s driving anyway?
By the time electric car sales are >50% of car sales, we may well be deeply into the self-driving car era anyway. As Elon said, it’s coming “a hell of a lot faster” than most of us think. Will you actually drive a car? Will you own a car?
Which brand car will you have?
Several automakers are going to face bankruptcy from their slow transition to EVs. Which will pull through? Which will create electric subsidiaries that outlive their fossil parents? Which will crash and burn in a gasoline flame? It’s hard to know at this point, but I’d bet on a very different auto market landscape.
*As I often state, I think psychological hurdles create a much bigger obstruction to widespread EV adoption at this point.