Several countries have now announced or considered plans to ban gas- and diesel-powered cars by a certain year. These eventual bans are certainly welcome and helpful from a messaging and persuasion standpoint, but if you look at the expected exponential growth curve of electric car adoption, banning polluting cars in 2040 or 2050 doesn’t actually look like a very bold move. More or less, it looks like that will happen anyway from simple market forces.
India has a target — unofficial still — to become a fully electric transport nation by 2030. This is the only truly bold target, in my humble opinion. It’s also why I was prompted to write an article in June discussing how practical the target is.
The UK’s plan and France’s plan to ban polluting cars by 2040 (and presumably the ban Germany’s Angela Merkel has floated) are all so moderate that I’m not even concerned about them achieving these goals.
That said, the targets do send a signal to automakers and consumers. They raise awareness. They may even alter R&D and production plans. They are helpful, as they can genuinely hasten the transition to electric vehicles — even if the targets set today are too soft to mean much in 2040.
Kudos to the political leaders and organizations that have initiated the discussions and agreed to the plans. Appreciation to the auto business leaders that welcome and even inspire them. But I would add: Don’t be afraid to get bold! Set more bold targets. Really push the envelope. Really push the industry to clean up its act — the technology is already here and ready to roll.
Leaders don’t just follow the trend. Leaders create the trend and hack down the weeds with a machete to create new paths. Leaders do things that people previously didn’t see or think possible — not things that seemed obvious and easy.
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