The old arguments that battery operated cars were slow, expensive, unattractive and most of all didn’t go very far before the battery ran out, have now all been laid to rest. The Tesla Model 3 is testament to the fact that all-electric vehicles are superior to internal combustion engines (ICE) in every way. They are fast, accelerate smoothly, very safe, quieter and smoother with superior road holding, extremely good looking, easier to maintain and less expensive to run. The model 3 has a range of between 215 and 300 miles (depending on the model). The Tesla rapid charging points are being reinforced in preparation for the first cars delivered to the UK in 2018. The price of the 3 in America starts at $35,000 before government incentives for ultra low emission cars. At present exchange rates that means the car will start at £27,000 in the UK, although it will probably be more like £30,000 before government incentives. That seems excellent value for a luxury car that can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 secs and that is superior to ICE equivalents in every other way. Like the future of electrical generation, the future of transportation clearly and demonstrably lies in non-polluting technology. The only question now is how fast will the change from gasoline and diesel to electric take. The consensus of opinion seems be that the 2020’s will see a complete transformation and by 2030 it will be as hard to see a fossil fuel car is it is to see an electric car now. At the present rate of uptake (global sales doubling every 2 years) there will be 2 million electric vehicles in the UK by 2020, which represents about 7% of the total, whilst global sales will be more like 10%. That is expected to be a tipping point when investment in ICE cars will dry up.
To make this revolution of transportation possible, at least three things have to happen. The sooner they happen, the faster the transformation.
- The car using public need assurance that there is a charging infrastructure which will ensure that the car battery will not run out whilst on a journey. It is true that most of the charging will be done at home or at work but for those longer journeys, drivers need to be confident that they can top up their battery on the road. This means a hassle free charging network needs to be set up quickly.
- Electric cars will have to compete with fossil fuel cars on price. At the moment, electric cars are more expensive to buy, even with the government grant for ultra-low emission vehicles. The rate at which prices drop will be dependent on battery cost reductions and the increase in volume production of electric cars.
- The realisation that electric cars are not just fossil fuel cars with a different engine but a new and novel driving experience that is most enjoyable. People who drive an electric car for the first time comment how different the driving experience is. Most drivers appreciate the quieter, smoother, more responsive acceleration and superior road- holding. It goes without saying that the reduction in running costs is greatly appreciated by most people, as is the convenience of charging at home or work, with no more queuing at filling stations. Once drivers experience the many advantages of electric vehicles, the transformation from fossil fuel vehicles could be very quick indeed.
Instead of viewing a car as a mechanical machine, in the future they will increasingly viewed as computers on wheels. Just like the cell phone, cars will be transformed into something that is principally operated by a computer. Just like smart phones, it will be the power of computing and software that will drive innovation in personal transport. Self driving cars are already here and in the near future expect your new all electric car to safely drive you around whilst you sit and relax doing whatever takes your fancy.