Why 2017 will go down as the beginning of the end of the internal combustion engine
By Peter Holley October 11 at 1:03 PM washingtonpost.com
Electric vehicles no longer seem like a futuristic fever dream, but they remain a rarity on most American city streets, accounting for less than 1 percent of the nation’s auto sales, according to the automotive website Edmunds.com.
Yet, when future auto historians look back, they may pinpoint 2017 as the year electric vehicles went from a promising progressive fad to an industry-wide inevitability.
The tipping point, experts say, follows three developments, each rippling outward with economic and cultural consequences.
“You really do feel like this electrification thing is suddenly very real,” Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds.com. “There’s a momentum we haven’t really seen before. It’s coming from other countries around the world and from big automakers, and that’s forcing everyone else to comply.”
The all-electric future is still years away, experts say. But as EV momentum builds, we’ve listed five ways in which EV adoption is expected to play out:
The future of Big Oil:
Not so long ago, minuscule sales of EVs made it hard for Big Oil to take the threat of electric cars seriously. Now, thanks to growing demand in Asia and Europe, experts say, that’s beginning to change, even amid predictions that oil demand will continue growing in the developing world. The question facing experts is no longer whether EVs will take over, but when?
A Barclays’ analysis concluded that oil demand could be slashed by 3.5 million barrels per day worldwide in 2025. If electric vehicle penetration reaches 33 percent, oil demand could shrink by a whopping 9 million barrels per day by 2040, Barclays concluded. Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance puts the number at 8 million barrels by 2040, more than the “current combined production of Iran and Iraq,” they note.
Urging caution about the impact of EVs on the oil industry, John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute, said he doesn’t expect to see significant changes in demand for another 15 years or so. “We don’t know how fast EV sales will pick up, but what we do know is that no matter how fast they pick up, the inventory in the market will turn over more slowly, and this will delay the impact on liquid gallon demand,” he said.
Eichberger noted that even optimistic sales growth estimates conclude it will take until the 2030s for EV sales to reach as high as 16 percent of the nation’s market share. Once that happens, he said, it will take even longer for people to start selling their vehicles and buying new ones, leading to widespread EV adoption.
“It’s the vehicles on the road that will determine gasoline demand, not the vehicles being sold that day,” he said.
Gas stations will change or disappear:
Some experts believe electric cars have sounded the death knell of the American gas station, but others aren’t so sure. Earlier this year, John Abbott, Shell Oil’s business director, revealed that the energy giant is already adapting.
“We have a number of countries where we’re looking at having battery charging facilities,” he told the Financial Times. “If you are sitting charging your vehicle, you will want to have a coffee or something to eat.”
Until charging times drop dramatically and superchargers become widespread, wait times for EV charging at gas stations could turn those stations into “hospitality-type venues,” according to Guido Jouret, the ABB’s chief digital officer, who noted that many gas stations make more money selling soda and food than they do selling gas.
“The idea is that for hospitality-type venues — restaurants, gas stations, coffee shops — electric vehicle charging could be an attractive way for them to attract customers the way WiFi was a decade ago, when it caused a lot of people to hang out at Starbucks.”
Depending on how electricity is produced in your region, plug-ins are from 30 percent to 80 percent lower in greenhouse gas emissions, according to Gina Coplon-Newfield, the director of the Sierra Club’s Electric Vehicles Initiative. If GM follows through on its plan to launch a new fleet of electric vehicles, Coplon-Newfield said, the reductions in carbon emissions and the improved air quality could be “hugely beneficial.”
“We’ve seen customers rave about cars like the Chevy Bolt and Volt,” she said. “Right now only a few thousand a month are being sold, so GM can significantly ramp up their production, and that’s going to have a significant impact on the market for consumers, the climate and public health.”
If GM’s 2016 U.S. sales — more than 3 million vehicles — were converted to EVs, the country would benefit in the following ways, according to an analysis provided by the Sierra Club:
The evolving future of auto mechanics:
Powering the grid:
We tend to think of EVs as consumers of electricity, but some experts believe they’ll be more like “mobile energy storage units,” as Forbes recently noted. Widespread adoption, experts say, may allow vehicles to transfer energy back to the grid when costs and demand are high and charge the battery when demand has waned.
The proposal would allow car owners and cities to lower costs. “Imagine it’s a hot day, and you’ve agreed that in exchange for allowing the grid to sip a bit of your car’s energy, maybe you earn points or receive a monetary benefit,” Jouret said. “The utility can sip the battery juice and take a little bit from all sources and spread it around.”
So it will be coal powered cars. We have lots of coal.
LOL! 1. Depends on how much of the battery capacity has been discharged and the type of charger. Most charging is done at home on batteries that are not highly discharged. 80+% of driving is around town, not long distance travel. 2. You don't convert, you just add the charging station. Most will not be added at service stations. They will be added at restaurants, coffee shops, fast food franchises, etc. The kinds of place you stop anyway on a trip. Fast charging capacity and clean restrooms will get any business a crowd. 3. Good question but hard to answer because electric demand for charging car batteries will ramp up over time. Hint: so will new electrical generation capacity. 4. Permits for clean burning, dual cycle natural gas plants are already in the pipeline as coal fired plants become too expensive to run. Hint: the problem with coal goes beyond the cost to generate electricity. What do you do with all the ash that is contaminated with heavy metals and arsenic? There is a cost to dispose of it but wherever you put it, it's still poison. 5. EV costs are coming down so fast that there should be no need for any subsidies or tax breaks by around 2020 according to a number of major auto manufacturers. I expect the major auto companies will make about the same profit on an EV as they do on a passenger car today. 6. You can get all the exhaust rumble you want and be able to customize the sound far beyond what a combustion engine can produce. Of course, it will cost you extra. :-)
You're welcome, RSV. Current mileage ranges on a full charge are in the range of 220 to 310 miles for the Tesla 3. The one that goes 310 costs more but if that's what someone needs, it's available. Makes a trip from Shreveport to DFW no problem. Although Tesla's 18 wheeler is still in development, Cummins has an EV version for 2019 delivery. 18 wheelers actually have an advantage in that they can carry more weight, so more battery capacity. The charging stations will be a loss leader. Just as many truck stops make more money off the things they sell other than gas. I'm not worried about the grid or the generation capacity as EV use will ramp up incrementally and so will generation. I don't know current costs for charging stations but I think they are cheaper and more easily accommodated in existing buildings/parking lots that CNG, Battery technology is unlikely to go into a slump. It has evolved steadily and should continue to do so. EVs don't have to be long haul capable to capture 80+% of the market. I'm 65 and suspect that my next vehicle will be electric in about 4 to 5 years. I'll still have my Ford pickup to haul my boat and go hunting but that will be less than 45 days a year.