Why electric vehicles are closer than they appear – by David Olive (Toronto Star – August 12, 2017)


We are in the early stages of a revolution in automobiles. The widespread adoption of all-electric vehicles and of driverless, or autonomous cars, is much closer on the horizon than it appears.

Until last year, the consensus forecast was for electric vehicles (EVs) to account for about one-third of vehicles on the road by 2040. But breakthroughs in the technology of EVs and the batteries that power them; stepped-up government advocacy of them; and automakers’ bet-the-company commitments to them have sharply altered that forecast. In May, researchers at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast that as much as 90 per cent of vehicle production worldwide will be EVs by 2040.

Yes, that’s 27 years off. But the transition is well underway, and market saturation by EVs could come much sooner. This month, Tesla Inc. is rolling out its first mass-market EV, the Model 3. It’s generally thought in the industry that if the Model 3 succeeds, electrification of all vehicles is a sure thing.

And the Model 3 should succeed. Elon Musk may not achieve his goal of producing 20,000 Model 3s per month by December, but it’s the Tesla signature to miss deadlines yet ultimately deliver a superb product. The Model 3 is a game-changer, a quasi-luxury sedan disguised as a mid-priced green vehicle. It’s priced at $44,000 before generous government rebates, gets more than twice as much range between recharges as its nearest rival, and is best-in-class in acceleration. (All figures in Canadian dollars.)

But the widely held view that much depends on Tesla is overdone. The tradition-bound auto business does have Tesla cofounder Musk to curse for being pushed into EVs. But Tesla’s offerings have since been embellished with many other factors spurring the industry’s now-hectic EV development.

For the rest of this column: https://www.thestar.com/business/2017/08/11/why-electric-vehicles-are-closer-than-they-appear-olive.html