Electric vehicles like Tesla’s might kill fossil fuel-powered cars far sooner than anyone imagined.
Electric vehicles might kill fossil fuel-powered models far sooner than the industry — or anyone, for that matter — could have imagined. Gas-powered cars, according to several predictions, will be entirely replaced by electric vehicles as soon as 2025.
Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors and its major rivals are now producing electric vehicles (EVs) with improved battery technology — at prices comparable to combustion-engine predecessors, and at the fastest pace yet — in a desperate attempt to match consumer demand.
Stanford University’s Tony Seba has posited that coal, oil, and gas production and usage will be all but obsolete by 2030. He has written a book, Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation, which touts technological advancement and its plunging costs as the means to solve fossil fuel dependence.
“The key to the disruption of energy lies in the exponential cost and performance improvement of technologies that convert, manage, store, and share clean energy,” Seba writes. Once technologies attain a certain level of improvement, as in the case of mobile and smartphones, affordability follows quickly and the market grows exponentially — leaving old technology virtually obsolete. Seba sees this happening with renewable, sustainable energy replacing fossil fuel-derived energy.
“It will be over by 2030. Maybe before,” he writes in the book. “Oil, natural gas (methane), coal, and uranium will simply become obsolete for the purposes of generating significant amounts of electricity and powering the automobile.”
Two EVs at the forefront of his prediction are the Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt. Orders for the Model 3 — whose production is still 18 months in the future — surpassed 200,000 in less than two days, despite the $35,000 price tag and the $1,000 deposit required from customers in advance.
“Adios, gas-powered cars,” Barclay’s analyst Brian Johnston enthused over the massive order tally, which topped monthly sales by General Motors, according to RenewEconomy. Several additional analysts called the Model 3 a “game-changer,” noting Musk’s desire to claim the market from producers of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
As technology advances and production costs plunge, customers will naturally gravitate toward incredibly efficient EVs — so within a few years, Seba predicts, EVs will be cheaper to purchase than traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles.
“The Internal Combustion Engine is 17-21 per cent efficient while the electric motor is 90-95 per cent efficient. The EV is 5 times more energy efficient than the ICE car,” Seba explained. “Combine that with the fact that it’s cheaper to transmit electrons (electricity) than atoms (gasoline or diesel) and you get that energy costs/mile are 10 times cheaper for EVs.”
It should be noted electric vehicles comprise only one facet of the booming renewable and sustainable energy revolution now taking place. Though the United States seems to hold on to its fossil fuel industry for dear life, numerous countries around the world have planned ahead by implementing renewable energy programs at a rapid pace — and with enormous success.
Costa Rica derived 99 percent of its energy from renewables last year. Scotland’s renewables accounted for 57 percent of its energy in 2015. Denmark, which employs several forms of renewable energy, generated 42 percent of its electricity last year from wind turbines, alone. Sweden, Finland, and a multitude of other countries are attempting the same success with various sustainable energy sources, from biomass and geothermal to wind and solar.
“It’s happening,” Seba told RenewEconomy during the COP21 climate talks in Paris. “When you look at the industry from a technology cost curve and the adoption of the market of technologies such as solar and electric vehicles, and energy storage, and the astonishing progress of self driving cars, it’s actually happening more quickly than I predicted.”
Whether the U.S. will remain obstinate in its commitment to fossil fuels for much longer is a matter of debate, though Seba is, perhaps, optimistic:
“In twenty years we’ll wonder how we put up with the horrendous consequences of the incumbent, conventional, $8 trillion-a-year energy industry. If Nikola Tesla and Thomas Alva Edison rose from the dead, they would recognize the industry that they helped build a century ago — and they would be disappointed at how little it has changed.”
Seba recognized the actual shackle holding the U.S. back from the implementation of renewable energy. According to Seba:
“The conventional energy model is about Big Banks financing Big Energy to build Big Power Plants or refineries in a few selected places. The new architecture is about everyone financing everyone to build smaller, distributed power plants everywhere.”
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