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A history of energy and cars (and how Tesla is changing the world)


I spent this morning reading a long – but incredibly worthwhile – article by Tim Urban on Wait But Why called, How Tesla Will Change The World. (Are they all this long? It was my first time reading WBW.)

The article, of course, talks a lot about Tesla, but it’s so much more than that. It talks about (1) the history of energy, (2) the history of cars, and then about (3) Elon Musk and Tesla. If you have the time, I highly recommend you give it a read.

But since it is long and many of you probably won’t do that, here’s an extract from the third section on Tesla (EV = electric vehicle/car):

EVs aren’t there yet. Right now, there are legit cons. But as the next few years pass, EVs will get cheaper, battery ranges will get longer and longer, Superchargers will pop up more and more until they’re everywhere, and charging times will just decrease as technology advances. Maybe I’m missing something, and I’m sure a bunch of seething commenters will try to make that very clear to me, but it seems like a given to me: the gas era is over and EVs are the obvious, obvious future.

The car companies, as I mentioned, aren’t happy about all of this—they’re acting like a kid with a cupcake whose parents are forcing them to eat their vegetables.

But how about the oil industry?

Unlike car companies, the oil industry can’t suck it up, get on the EV train, and after an unpleasant hump, continue to thrive. If EVs catch on in a serious way and end up being the ubiquitous type of car, oil companies are ruined. 45% of all the world’s extracted oil is used for transportation, but in the developed world, it’s much higher—in the US, 71% of extracted oil is used for transportation, and most of that is for cars.

As Tim states at the end of his article, this piece is all really about change and progress. Progress is not inevitable. It doesn’t just happen as time marches on. It happens because of strong willed people who believe in something that many others probably don’t. 

Because with many changes – regardless of how critical or beneficial they may be to society as a whole – there will almost always be entrenched interests that would rather see things stay exactly the same. But in my view, that shouldn’t get in the way of doing the right thing.

Image: Wait But Why

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