As with other subjects, the literature and development of electric vehicles (EVs) and oil is vast and evolving. What can be gleaned, generalized, and estimated is this (Reichert, 2017; Idaho National Laboratory, n.d.; Skeptics, n.d.; Evannex, 2018; Schmidt, 2017):
- there are growing advantages to electric vehicles
- a battery charge can go 400-600 miles
- there are approximately 20 moving parts in a EV versus 2,000 moving parts in internal combustion vehicles
- there is zero maintenance except for tires
- EVs are 90 percent cheaper to operate
- The estimated life of an EV may be 500,000-1,000,000 miles
Globally, peak car ownership is projected to occur by 2035. Cars are used only 4% of the time, and by 2023 it is estimated that EVs will reach parity with the cost of gas-fueled vehicles (Ingham, 2019; Weiland, et al, 2017; Gearino, 2020). As younger generations consider the cost of car ownership, a review of vehicle registration records in more than 200 metro areas revealed that per-capita car purchases increased 0.7 percent on average in the years after Uber, Lyft and other e-taxi giants deployed their fleets, compared to projected registration rates prior to the entry of the companies. These were very slow years for car dealerships, partly due to the pandemic in 2020 (Naughton and Welch, 2019; Wilson, 2021).
The first nine months of 2020 saw car sales crater (Figure 2). Every major automaker was impacted with the exception of Tesla. The electric automaker sold more cars than ever before. Even as the rest of the economy froze, Tesla posted its longest stretch of profitable quarters, increased stock value over 750 percent, is now the largest U. S. vehicle manufacturer, became the 6th largest U. S. company, and ended the year with inclusion in the S&P 500 stock index. A closer look reveals AVs in general managed to thrive even as sales of traditional cars declined. Both Volkswagen and Daimler saw record-setting losses in total sales while sales of their EVs doubled.
While the sale of electric vehicles has been increasing for some years, there is also a need for the infrastructure and charging stations to support it (Figure 3).
The Biden Administration wants to increase charging stations by half a million as part of their effort to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050. As such, new gas-powered cars and trucks would have to be phased out rapidly, probably by 2035 or sooner. That means aggressive action would have to continue. (Welch, 2021).
The energy sector is undergoing a major transformation and it will intensify as more and more consumers, especially in the transportation industry, change their purchase decisions to cleaner and less expensive options in the marketplace (i.e. EVs over internal combustion vehicles) (Figure 4).
Batteries are a technology, not a fuel, which means the more that are produced, the cheaper they are to make. However, up until now, EVs have been more expensive to build than gasoline cars. That’s changing (Figure 5).
This past year saw the first companies producing batteries at a cost of $100 per kilowatt-hour. That’s the point that analysts believe will bring the cost of building electric cars in parity with similar gasoline vehicles. After that, EVs should only get less expensive.
Volkswagen, the biggest automaker by cars sold, confirmed that its batteries had reached the $100 threshold for its 2020 ID.3 sedan and upcoming ID.4 compact SUV (Matousek, 2019). China’s CATL, the world’s biggest battery supplier, also claimed $100 battery nirvana as it struck deals across the auto industry (Schmidt, 2020). In addition, Tesla plans to manufacture battery cells, a first for any automaker, and to reduce battery costs 56% by 2023 (Spector, 2020).
Most recently, President Biden has announced his intent to convert the federal vehicle fleet of 645,000 vehicles to electric (Dow, 2021). Still, we need to remain aware of the basic infrastructure required for migration to electric vehicles, charging stations scattered across the Nation, and power generation and network to provide adequate electricity.
General Motors has announced it intends to stop making gas- and diesel-powered vehicles and go all electric by 2035 and be carbon neutral by 2040 (Colias, 2021).
Amazon is also in the process of having 10,000 electric delivery vans on the road by 2022, and 100,000 by 2030 (Hawkins, 2020).
In spite of the Pandemic, 2020 experienced a 30 percent increase in electric vehicle sales and that is expected to increase to 72% in 2021, charging stations infrastructure has lagged (BlastPoint, 2021).
We are near a “tipping point”.
Another aspect to consider, the cost and weight of a power train goes up for large EV vehicles (trains, heavy trucks, and buses), essentially losing any EV advantage. That is a reason Cummins Diesel is looking to use hydrogen fuel cells for these types of large vehicles (Nagel, 2020; Ohnsman, 2020).
A dirty secret of EV— the extraction of minerals such as cobalt used to make batteries is frequently done by child labor (Broom, 2019).
BlastPoint (2021). 2021 EV Outlook. BlastPoint. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://blastpoint.co/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/BlastPoint-2021-EV-Outlook_Report.pdf
Broom, D. (2019, March 27). The dirty secret of electric vehicles. World Economic Forum. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/the-dirty-secret-of-electric-vehicles/
Colias, M. (2021, January 28). GM to phase out gas- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/gm-sets-2035-target-to-phase-out-gas-and-diesel-powered-vehicles-globally-11611850343
Dow, J. (2021, January 25). President Biden will make entire 645k federal vehicle fleet electric. electrek. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://electrek.co/2021/01/25/president-biden-will-make-entire-645k-vehicle-federal-fleet-electric/
Eckhouse, B., R. Morison, W. Mathis, W. Wade, and H. Warren (2020, November 29). The new energy giants are renewable companies. Bloomberg Green. Retrieved January 30, 2021 from https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-renewable-energy-supermajors/
Evannex. (2018, September 22). Here’s seven reasons why electric vehicles will kill the gas car. InsideEVs. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://insideevs.com/news/340502/heres-seven-reasons-why-electric-vehicles-will-kill-the-gas-car/
Gearino, D. (2020, July 31). Electric cars will cost same as gas models as soon as 2023, researchers say. KQED. Retrieved January 30, 2021 from https://www.kqed.org/science/1967914/electric-cars-will-cost-same-as-gas-models-as-soon-as-2023-researchers-say
Hawkins, A.J. (2020, October 8). Amazon unveils its new electric delivery vans built by Rivian. The Verge. Retrieved January 31, 2021 from https://www.theverge.com/2020/10/8/21507495/amazon-electric-delivery-van-rivian-date-specs
Idaho National Laboratory. (n.d.). How do gasoline & electric vehicles compare? INL. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://avt.inl.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/fsev/compare.pdf
Ingham, L. (2019, January 4). Peak car approaches: car ownership will decline after 2034. Verdict. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.verdict.co.uk/peak-car-ownership-decline-2034/
Matousek, M. (2019, September 10). Volkswagen has reportedly reached a big milestone in battery costs that would heat up its competition with Tesla. Business Insider. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.businessinsider.com/vw-electric-cars-battery-costs-versus-tesla-2019-9#
Nagel, M. (2020, September 22). From advanced diesel to hydrogen: Four ways Cummins is committed to meeting energy demands. Cummins Newsroom. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.cummins.com/news/2020/09/22/advanced-diesel-hydrogen-four-ways-cummins-committed-meeting-energy-demands
Naughton, K. and D. Welch. (2019, February 28). This is what peak car looks like: For many people, new forms of mobility are making privately owned vehicles obsolete. Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-02-28/this-is-what-peak-car-looks-like
Ohnsman, A. (2020, November 16). Diesel engine giant Cummins plans hydrogen future — with trains coming before trucks. Forbes. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2020/11/16/diesel-engine-giant-cummins-plans-hydrogen-futurewith-trains-coming-before-trucks/?sh=3bb5e8266ad2
Randall, T. and H. Warren (2020, December 1). Peak oil is suddenly upon US. Bloomberg Green. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-peak-oil-era-is-suddenly-upon-us/
Reichert, E. (2017, May 11). Electric car components: gas vs. electric. NAPA. Retrieved January 31, 2021 from https://knowhow.napaonline.com/electric-car-components-gas-vs-electric/
Schmidt, B. (2020, May 22). CATL boss opens up about Tesla electric car battery deal. The Driven. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://thedriven.io/2020/05/22/catl-boss-opens-up-about-tesla-electric-car-battery-deal/
Schmidt, E. (2017, September 6). Top 12 reasons why electric cars are better than gas cars. Fleetcarma. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.fleetcarma.com/why-electric-cars-are-better-than-gas-top/
Skeptics. (n.d.). Do electric cars inherently consist of fewer parts than combustion engine cars? Stack Exchange. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/40383/do-electric-cars-inherently-consist-of-fewer-parts-than-combustion-engine-cars
Spector, J. (2020, September 22). Tesla battery day: expect battery cost to drop by half within 3 years. gtm. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/tesla-battery-day-cost-reduction-three-years
Weiland, J. and J. Walker (2017, December 6). Why peak car ownership in 2020 Isn’t So Farfetched. HuffPost. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-peak-car-ownership-in_b_12200628
Welch, C. (2021, January 22). Has the electric car’s moment arrived at last? National Geographic. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2021/01/has-electric-car-moment-arrived-at-last/
Wilson, K. (2021, January 8). Study: e-taxis increase private car ownership in many cities. StreetsBlog USA. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://usa.streetsblog.org/2021/01/08/study-e-taxis-increase-private-car-ownership-in-many-cities/