What It Will Take To Live In An Electric Car Society
TechDrive Guest Post
Nitish Kannan, is an entrepreneur who innovates in technology. He has great experience in testing Tesla cars and has interviewed leaders in this field including film director Chris Paine, director of Revenge of the Electric car. You can follow Nitish on Twitter here:
One of the most disruptive technologies that will transform the 21st century will be the shift from a fossil fuel based transportation society to a purely electric car society. The electric car will cause a major disruption in the grid, energy generation and how we “fill up” our personal transport vehicles each day.
I predict that within 16 years almost all our cars will be plug in vehicles based on a few market trends. The reason for it might take that much time is that it will take our human civilization many steps to get to the point where a vast majority of all transport comprises of plug in electric cars. So to get right to it, what does it take to live in a fully electric car society by 2030?
There are three factors being addressed today that will make plug in vehicles vastly superior to all forms of transport and make electric cars the only choice that makes sense for consumers. First factor is availability of better batteries as well as making enough of them to keep up the capacity needed if every car were an EV. The second most importance factor would be rapid expansion of free supercharging stations similar to how Tesla has covered three continents with free solar powered supercharger stations. Finally, the third factor to be addressed is having enough solar power that provides free electricity. This would enable car makers and utilities to sell enough power to make a profit and still provide free electric car charging to EV car owners. I believe that having free charging is one of the most important aspects to making the electric car transition a viable and appealing option to consumers as Tesla has done today. If someone was to buy an electric car right now, they could get an electrician Los Angeles CA to install a car charger at their home or office building.
One of the important issues that must be addressed to make every car sold to be electric by 2030 is making sure that there are enough batteries to supply to all the car makers (i.e., with enough lithium cells to power their electric vehicles). It is estimated that soon Tesla alone will use more lithium battery cells than all the computer and mobile phone manufacturers combined. Moreover, to address this particular issue, Tesla is building a so called “Gigafactory” just to eliminate battery production constraints so it can manufacture over 500,000 electric cars per year. I predict that many more like these will need to constructed globally to make lithium cells for electric cars at a very cheap rate.
Another issue regarding the topic of battery cells is making sure that batteries have adequate capacity for electric vehicles range. Despite the fact that the Tesla can do 250+ miles a charge, having a larger capacity battery will make charging less frequent for consumers. For instance, a new solid state battery technology in labs today could in theory make a lithium battery pack have twice the capacity and cost a third less. This would enable an electric car like the Tesla to do well over 500 miles on the same battery pack if the cells were replaced with solid state batteries. I believe this will be the breakthrough in the next few years that will make electric cars far cheaper and the range much longer that finally convinces the vast majority of the public to change its perception on electric cars.
The next breakthrough that is happening today that will pave the way for the mass adoption of electric cars is a rapid expansion in the Tesla supercharger network. The reason I believe we need to expand on this standard globally is because Tesla is the only car maker to have successfully rolled out an entire network of fast chargers all over North America, Europe and Asia in less than two years. The superchargers enable charging at up-to 135kW per hour and is free to use forever. The most important thing is that Tesla has made their patents open to all and the supercharger network open to all car makers. I believe that if every car maker built electric cars and built superchargers at every mall, Walmart, grocery store, and rest stop on the freeways globally, no one would ever want to pay for fuel again. Especially, when you can get over 200 miles of range in 20-25 minutes at 135kW rate of charge.
I believe that as our society shifts to a zero margin society, in the same way the cost of music streaming or taking digital photography have gone to zero and bankrupted some of the film companies and physical music stores the same thing would happen to gas stations and oil companies. Why would anyone pay 70-100 dollars to fill up a fuel tank when they could buy an electric car drive an unlimited number of miles per year for free forever? Especially when car makers like Tesla offer an 8 year unlimited mile powertrain and battery warranty! I think every car maker in the world will copy the Tesla strategy and make driving free forever. It certainly is hard to compete with free and if you want to sell electric cars you better offer a very good incentive to accelerate that adoption rather quick.
Finally, the last trend that will make our society a fully electric car society is the rapid growth of solar power. The reason solar power is so important is because it’s the only energy source that’s been consistently following the law of accelerating returns and growing exponentially each year. There is a Moore’s law of solar power going on right now you could say in some ways. As we double the amount of solar capacity each year, I predict at our current rate, in just 14-16 years we will power almost 100% of energy needs with solar power and battery storage. At that point every electric car owner can charge for free at home or at the superchargers. We will have energy abundance and electricity that’s literally too cheap to meter. The age of oil will be over primarily because natural gas, coal and oil companies cannot compete with free electricity and storage. Especially when we get over 6000x times more solar power than we use each day from the sun. Having free solar power is the most vital aspect of powering a billion electric vehicles.
But wait I think there’s something even more disruptive that these trends will lead to and our society isn’t really prepared for and that’s the self-driving electric car that automatically supercharges itself on a supercharger and you can use Uber like services to call up your car without ever owning a car. This will make car ownership obsolete altogether. This prediction is what I think will happen in the next 2 decades, but that’s a totally different discussion.
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