Electric cars on the move

April 02, 2019 by Denis Pombriant

Just sampling the news about electric cars these days can put a smile on the face of even the most desperate climate watcher. It’s happening. The shift to electric cars is happening in large and small ways on multiple continents. Manufacturers lined up a few years ago to announce their plans for EVs as they are called and now they’re bringing product to market.

The car makers aren’t waiting to be hit over the head with an old tire tool, as the saying goes. They’ve seen the writing on the wall, and it isn’t pretty. We blew through Peak Oil about a decade ago which means we’re on a long, slow decline in oil production at a time when demand is increasing, especially in the developing world as people aspire to, and begin achieving, middle class incomes and begin to demand things like mobility and meat in their diets. So of course, the free market is responding.

It’s hard to say if EVs would be making such a dramatic showing if climate alone was the driving force. But climate plus Peak Oil gives us a perfect storm. Here’s a synopsis of one day in auto journalism that proves the point.

In Norway, electric cars outsell traditional ones for the first time

The story on MarketWatch dated April 1, is not an April fool’s joke. The Norwegians bought more electric cars in March than fossil fueled ones by an impressive 58.4 percent.

Norway isn’t alone either. Seeking Alpha reports that

Global electric car sales were up 31% YoY in February, reaching 1.4% market share, a slowdown from January’s excellent growth rate.

EV market news – 71% of UK car owners said they’d consider buying an electric vehicle as their next car.

Sure, the numbers are small but even a proverbial blind horse can make out this trend forming.

Volkswagen Group’s first affordable electric car will be priced under $22,400

The story appeared today at The Drive and you can get the deets here. VW sold over 500,000 cars last year raking in $11.2 billion. Part of the car’s attraction is its new platform called Seat. We should be able to expect more models on this platform and for the price, everyone should have one.

Duke Energy Proposes $76 Million Program For Electric Vehicles And Chargers

But if the news was only about EVs we’d have a problem. Whenever a disruptive innovation like EV’s hits the market, there’s a long build-out that has to be accommodated before the disruption can go mainstream. Think about electricity and powerlines.

The auto required roads and a massive construction project that took up most of the last century ensued. Today’s disruption requires something else, charging stations. It seems like the industry is, for the moment, forgetting about making faster charging batteries from exotic materials and going with the idea of high capacity batteries that can run a car for about 250 miles between charges. That means charging stations are needed wherever cars get parked.

An hour on the charger while you’re shopping at the mall will keep your battery topped off and reduce your range anxiety. So, the Charlotte, NC NPR affiliate, WFAE, is reporting that Duke Energy is proposing a $76 million investment in EVs and chargers. WFAD’s story said,

The program is outlined in a filing with the North Carolina Utilities Commission Monday. It includes rebates for residential and consumer customers who install private charging stations, and about $2 million to install more than 800 public charging stations across the state.

Every state will need a plan like that and then some but give credit to Duke and North Carolina for making this start. It’s a great example of how diffusing works with a disruptive innovation in the early part of a K-wave.

My two bits

We’re a long way from being in the clear. EV’s need to become the dominant personal transportation mode and that will take 20 years. We also need to implement carbon capture solutions to actively suck carbon out of the environment and stabilize it so that it does no harm. So there’s a lot of work to do but…

There’s nothing like an optimist with data, Jon Reed once said. Data makes optimism unnecessary in the strictest sense since a trend like the one we’re witnessing in cars is self-sustaining. We’re looking at one of the greatest wealth, industry, and jobs creating moments in history. This is much better than bitcoin.



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