Chrysler announced last week that it will become an all-electric vehicle company by 2028. This is a pretty big deal and, as I understand it, a first for the legacy US automakers. At this point, it now feels difficult to argue that this shift isn’t going to happen. Though I remember lots of people in the past asserting that the masses would never ever switch over to electric.
I guess that’s the status quo bias at work. Because if you flip the script and assume that the status quo is already electric (that is, we all come home after work, plug in our cars, and charge them up at low rates), it would be pretty hard to argue for a switch to gasoline-powered cars. Here, try this new thing. It’ll cost you more to fill up and you get to pollute the environment more. But hey, it sounds cool when you do a cold start.
Do we have Tesla to thank for exposing this?
Here’s some further evidence from the Exponential View.
In the UK last month (December 2021), 41% of new car registrations were electric or some kind of plug-in electric hybrid. That is up from 29% for the same period in 2020 (see above). Pure EVs also make up about 2/3 of these registrations and look to be picking up momentum. That’s certainly what I would expect to see when we revisit these numbers next year. The century of gasoline vehicles is coming to an end and it’s going to happen well inside of this decade.
When I was buying a new car back in 2018, I wanted to buy an electric vehicle. I don’t have a charging station in my parking garage, but I would have gotten one. The problem is that I couldn’t find the kind of car that I wanted in an electric version. And the ones that were available were pretty expensive. That has changed and is no longer the case. If I were buying today, it would certainly be an EV. The car would also have to change colors at the push of a button.
But, of course, the other element of change here is autonomy. And if/when that arrives, it will be far more disruptive than this shift to electric.
Not so fast, I think. In Alberta, we’ve been in a deep freeze since Christmas (temperatures consistently below -20 degrees C). This is not an issue for folks with internal combustion vehicles. That noted, neighbours with electric vehicles dress up like they are going to traverse the North Pole. Why? When it’s really cold, electric vehicle owners have to “manage” things like heat and other accessories to extend the life of the battery. Consequently, most of my neighbours turn down/ turn off the heat to avoid getting stranded during highway excursions. I don’t imagine that they have much peace of mind when driving their vehicles.
There are still so many problems related to range anxiety, it’s hard to imagine people continuing to ramp up EV purchases at this rate until they are solved. I live in a city multi-unit apartment building and our garage has no hookups for EVs, though they have been talking about it for two owners and about 4 years. There’d be all kind of problems though: who would plug an EV in and monitor it? The parking attendant? He’s already got a job juggling cars. How would the electricity usage be monitored; believe me, nothing is free and with 3 tier rates in NYC, it would have to be some kind of computerized system to track charges, per customer, to be added to the monthly bill. Perhaps the biggest challenge is lining up cars for the few spots with chargers. It’s prohibitively expensive to put chargers in every stall, not to mention space inefficient in a city where every inch counts.
And that’s another thing. People who actually drive or test cars for a living complain about broken chargers in under-maintained unstaffed EV stations, the lack of fast chargers while on long trips, etc. Do you really want to wait for half an hour for someone else to charge up on a long road trip? While in the rain? In the cold? At night? In a bad neighborhood (I’m surprised thieves haven’t figured out where to wait for unprotected motorists and their expensive cars already. It’s not like they can just drive off when they can barely make it between charging stations without running out of juice. Who wants to calculate distances and charging times anyway, when ICE vehicles just need any of 10s of thousands of charging stations?
Teslas work at Tesla charging stations, other vehicles have their own charging standards. There’s not a lot of cross-compatibility either and add to that fast, medium, slow charging capabilities (slow can be over 4 hours, and that for just an 80% charge. EVs charge more slowly the closer you get to “topping off.” That’s not the case except for the last few drops of an ICE car). Batteries are the most expensive thing to replace in an EV, but if you don’t they will lose range over time, and in the cold, as someone else already commented.
EVs have a long way to go. It’s not even clear batteries will be the clear winner in the non-polluting race. Hydrogen might overcome its disadvantages and gain due to its ICE like fill-up times. Nanoflowtech might move out of long-term beta stage and deliver a production car with its unique electrolyte refill technology, that also fills up in minutes, and doesn’t pollute, but has triple current EV ranges.
We’re in the model T era of EVs, and it’s not clear who or what will triumph in the end, though Tesla looks like they really do have advantages that other automakers can’t seem to emulate, for now.
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