20 April 2023

Straight dope on electric vehicles

 I know I harp on this a lot, but let me just lay out what I believe are irrefutable facts: 
  1. Battery technology is currently undergoing a massive technological upgrade, which will result in batteries being chargeable in less than half an hour to run a car for about 300 miles; they will also cost less, weigh less, be made interchangeable with existing battery packs in the most advanced companies (Tesla and a few others, maybe), and be made from materials that are not unduly expensive or rare (sodium ion technology uses no "unobtainium"). This battery technology will be rolled out over the next two or three years and will also be used to make the grid more efficient, making "peaker plants" obsolete and helping to green up and reduce the cost of grid power. Most people will have household backup batteries installed within a decade, in addition to the proliferation of charging stations. 
  2. Electric motors for cars and trucks are a fully mature technology which is cheaper, more efficient, simpler to build, and lasts about ten times as long with almost zero maintenance as compared to  internal combustion ("ICE") powered drive trains. They also have superior performance and will, with the introduction of more fast charging and the battery technology improvements, make all motor vehicle transportation, including long distance trucking, far more energy efficient, cheaper in the long run, and superior in all aspects of performance other than speed of "filling up," which will require some adjustments but nothing that can't be accomplished. 
  3. The techniques to manufacture affordable and superior electric vehicles have now been developed, and the manufacture of ICE vehicles is rapidly becoming a technological dinosaur that will be phased out surprisingly rapidly over the next 15 years... at most.  
This, and not some diabolical strategy, is why Tesla is reducing prices and outcompeting on both quality and price nearly all of its competitors right now. Other American manufacturers are way behind in this. Tesla and the Chinese have been way out in front, with Americans (apart from Tesla) and Europeans doing less well, and the Japanese having miscalculated so badly that they are likely to massively lose market share over the next ten years. I would expect that several of them will likely fail altogether (Nissan, Subaru, Mazda, Honda unless it reverses course soon). Although actually one of the worst in terms of strategy, Toyota will likely survive and eventually thrive, just because they have so many resources they can probably pull it out and change over. Stellantis, BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen will struggle but probably manage to stay in business, but only if they commit to a rapid changeover like yesterday. And some of them still haven't.

Nearly all new cars by the early 2030s will be electric worldwide. Companies that don't prepare for this will have nothing to sell because no one will want to buy expensive and obsolete ICE vehicles. 

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