Are Electric Cars Doomed To Be Just A Niche Market? – by Jean-Marc Vittori ( – May 4, 2018)

PARIS — The car of the future will be electric. That is now a certainty. Or rather a consensus. Unless it’s an illusion?

Let’s start at the beginning. A symbol of the industrial revolution of the 20th century, the automobile has nonetheless one flaw: it pollutes. And in fact, it has now become the symbol of pollution, even if the one billion cars in use around the world emit less carbon dioxide than agriculture or coal-fired power stations.

Under pressure from voters, governments are imposing ever lower emission ceilings. The movement has grown with the “dieselgate” scandal and the Paris Conference on Climate Change. France and the United Kingdom have announced their intention to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. The City of Paris is banning old diesel vehicles starting next year.

China, the world’s largest market, goes further. It turns emission standards into a tool for industrial reconquest. Late on the petrol engine, it will, as early as 2019, impose an electric-car quota on manufacturers, and will increase the quota as it makes progress on batteries.

After a long period of resistance, carmakers are making the switch. “I’ve changed my mind,” the head of a major European company admits. “I’m now convinced that the car of the future will be electric.” Renault began 10 years ago. Newcomer Tesla is shaking up the market. Volvo will stop producing models equipped with internal combustion engines in a few months. BMW and Toyota are accelerating.

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