Posted by Big Gav in electric vehicles
The Business Spectator has an enthusiastic look at the prospects for electric cars, citing improving technology, global warming and peak oil as drivers - Cars just got cleaner and faster.
When we focus on news that reinforces our environmental challenges, of which there’s no shortage, we forget just how exciting the opportunities in fixing them are and how fast these solutions are now accelerating. Every story about melting icecaps or raging floods brings a smarter, cleaner world closer. My favourite example at the moment is electric cars. While they had a bad start, we are now on the verge of the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for, with around 30 models coming into the market from the major car companies and new start-ups over the next three years.
If we get this right, it’s hard to overstate the significance of the upside. This is a real game changer for our transport and energy systems. Forget any old ideas you have about niche markets, limited range and slow cars. There are some very exciting cars on the way and some business concepts that could change not just personal transport but the whole electricity sector. How will this unfold? ...
Heard all this before and wondering if its real? Warren Buffet certainly thinks its is. He invested US$230 million in Chinese electric car company BYD in 2008 and his 10% stake is now worth close to $2 billion. China plans to put a million electric cars on the road by 2012 so BYD (Build Your Dream) is looking like delivering on its name for its owners.
As a transition this dramatic takes off in a market, it’s hard to tell where it will head but in any outcome the implications for consumers, business and markets are certainly profound. Alan Kohler makes an interesting argument in his investment newsletter The Eureka Report as to why all cars will be electric within 20 years. He points out that when people come to believe that the electric car is going to be the clear winner, they will suddenly realise their old petrol car will have close to zero resale value within a few years. At that point there will be a rush to go electric, to avoid the inevitable price collapse in second hand petrol cars. This will of course be self-reinforcing when it takes off.
Of course we can’t be sure which technologies, business models and companies will succeed. What we can now safely accept however is that with so many people and so much money focused on making this work, the time has clearly arrived when the internal combustion engine is heading for a rapid sunset.
Let your mind run over the implications of that for the oil industry and peak oil.