4 Milestones That Will Have Us Driving Electric Cars
Today, the Chevy Volt symbolizes where electric car technology now stands for most Americans. It is an affordable plug-in hybrid electric car. It has an electric power plant that can go over 50 miles between charges. It has a gasoline engine that kicks in when the car runs out of electricity. But over the next 5-10 years there will be four milestone achievements that put most of us behind the wheel of an electric car.
Electric Volt is a world class car
The Chevy Volt running on electricity is a world class automobile. It has great acceleration. It delivers a smooth and quiet drive. The Volt is a luxury car at Chevy prices! This is a short video of my impression test driving the Chevy Volt running on electricity.
Volt is the cleaner and lower cost alternative for daily driving
The Volt running on electricity is the cleaner alternative for daily commuting. Most of us drive less than 50 miles per day. Driving a Volt means most of us would have zero tailpipe emissions on most days.
The Volt also offers a lower fuel cost for daily commuting compared to gasoline vehicles. Using grid electricity, the Volt’s fuel costs are equivalent to 75 cents per gallon gasoline.
A growing number of homeowners have figured out how to fuel the Volt for “free.” Homeowners in states that encourage customer owned solar are buying solar systems and then using their electric bill savings to lease an electric car for daily commuting. They then fuel their electric car from their solar system. “Free car…free fuel!”
The gasoline Volt is just another car
When the Volt switches to its gasoline engine there is a real driving experience let down. It isn’t that the gasoline powered Volt is a bad car. The let down is because the electric Volt is just so much better.
This video is my test drive of the Volt on a trip to Palm Desert from San Diego. Because this is a 200 mile round trip the Volt switched from electricity to gasoline. Here is my impression:
The noticeable decline in driving experience between electric and gasoline is probably why so many Volt owners appear obsessed with maximizing their electric miles. I follow Volt owners on Facebook. They LOVE their cars. They report going weeks and months on just electricity. They take pride in what this means in terms of lower emissions. But I know their secret. Driving on electricity is so much more fun. Acceleration generates smiles. The quiet and smooth ride is luxurious. Volt owners may rationalize their purchase based on solving global warming. But emotionally they are having a great time driving a fun car.
The future for electric cars
Electric cars will be a key 21st century technology innovations. They will deliver lower fuel costs. They will solve urban pollution. They will be the basis for sustainable economic growth.
These are the four milestones that will propel electric cars into sales leadership:
- Competitive prices. Electric cars will achieve mass market sales success when they cost $30,000 or less and can go 200-300 miles on a single charge. The first generation of such cars are coming. Tesla is launching the model 3. GM is launching the Bolt. By 2021 all major auto companies will offer electric cars that deliver on price and range.
- Batteries prices will be cut in half.
Batteries are on a 5% annual improvement path. That means in 10 years they will cost 50% less than today. This opens the door to mass adoption. They will be in our cars because they are the least cost option compared to gasoline engines and gasoline prices.
- Clean tech gains economies of scale. China, Germany and California are creating economies of scale for electric cars. California has the goal of having 1 million electric cars by 2024. China has the goal of having 5 million electric cars by 2020. Achieving this economies of scale will make electric cars price competitive against fossil fueled cars.
- Sustainable economic growth. Electricity produced from coal is price competitive only because coal’s harmful emissions are not priced at the meter. Oil is “cheap” only because we pay for Middle Eastern wars through taxes and not pump prices. This false economics is a major cause for our cycle of booms and busts. California, the seventh largest economy in the world, is proving that adopting smart, cleaner technologies can propel results that outpace the economic growth of all other states and most nations. Evidently the rest of the U.S. and the world will figure out that sustainability is not about politics or beliefs. It is about superior economic growth. When that happens we will be driving electric vehicles.
Bill Roth, Founder of Earth 2017
This is the first of a series of articles I will be posting with Caelus. These articles will focus on how businesses and communities are achieving triple bottom line success.
I founded Earth 2017 to capture case studies and video interviews on how business and community leaders are achieving sustainable results. The Earth 2017 website, and the YouTube channel Earth 2017 TV, are free resource that hosts hundreds of business case studies and video interviews.