CNBC Survey Asks: “Do You Think Electric Cars Will Be Mainstream In 25 Years?”




It’s a simple survey question buried in a rather lengthy CNBC article titled “It’s electric: Experts split on the future of EVs.”

The results are rather shocking though when once considers that CNBC readers aren’t necessarily the most up-to-date on the electric vehicle world.

Seeing 70% of the respondents choosing “yes” to the question of “Do you think electric cars will be mainstream in 25 years?” is unexpected, but we’ll take it.

So, before 2040, EVs will be mainstream?  The question is, how do you define mainstream then?  For the sake of this survey, we believe the definition is something along the lines of EVs becoming mainstream when they meet or exceed the level of sales of a comparable ICE model.  By that definition, some EVs will certainly become mainstream well before 2040.

Back to the survey results though.  What’s your takeaway from this survey in which the overwhelming majority believe that EVs will have staying power and compete in the mainstream in 25 years or less?

Source: CNBC

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44 Comments on "CNBC Survey Asks: “Do You Think Electric Cars Will Be Mainstream In 25 Years?”"

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I think they will be mainstream when they are as advertised as much as ice cars and when they are not production restrained.

They will be well before that.

Not to be selfish, but they are not just main stream, but the only stream for me, have been for the past almost 3 years 🙂

I suppose the line of thought is that 25 years is the time it takes for a new product to become mainstream. The confusion comes from some people not recognizing that EVs first became available from a major auto manufacturer in 2010 vs 2014. So if it does take 25 years for a new product to become mainstream, 2035 will be the year EVs do.


That’s right Nelson. And you led the charge. I’m lamenting the loss of my volt when my lease ends in 7 months.

They’re gonna have to be. In 25 years there’s gonna be a lot less oil to go around, unless you believe that fracking and shale oil will replace the ageing supergiant oil fields.

You can have fracking OR drinking water but not both.

You most certainly can have both. Fracking is a little wild right now, but once adequate regulations are figured out, almost all fracking activity will have measurably negligible impact on drinking water.

Besides, renewable energy is cheap enough to desalinate all the drinking water we need.

Fracking cannot be done completely cleanly. Using the industries own statistics, some 5% of cement jobs will fail within the first year and start leaking into aquifer layers. And over their lifetimes, up to 1/2 of cement jobs will fail and thus start leaking.

It is a statistics game. There will be environmental damage . . . the only question is “how much?”

It is going to take a lot of battery factories to make more EVs than ICE cars. That would be about 50-60M cars/year in the 2030’s, and require 100-120 more “GigaFactories” and the mines to supply them before 2040.

Still, a lot can happen in 26 years.


I don’t think the discussion is about complete replacement of all ICEs by 2040 but rather just some number that makes them “mainstream”. Mainstream could have a lot of different meanings one of which could even include a number much less than half. As long as EVS are competitive with ICEs and people are buying them as a substantial percent of all fleet sales then they would be mainstream.

However, if there ever is a breaking point for sales and EVs were to become wildly more desirable than their traditional counterparts then I wouldn’t bet against the whole of the automotive industry building the needed infrastructure to produce those factories in a short amount of time. When the writing is on the wall there will be a scramble for survival in a do or die moment.

+1 very well said

If PHEV’s count into the mix (which I assume they do since the Volt was mentioned) then just one Gigafactory could support 5 million 10kWh PHEV’s or 2,5 million 20 kWh EREV’s.

That would mean less than one Gigafactory per large manufacturer and only the few giants would need two Gigafactories each.

Of course lots of BEVs will be sold too and there will be capacity added sooner or later for that but the point is that EV’s can and will go mainstream fast.

In the EU mainstream (for me that is around 20% penetration) will come around 2020.

Well, that is great to hear! Lots of new jobs building factors, building batteries, mining Lithium, building EVs, etc. Bring it on.

5 years at max ………..everything going to change baby……

25 years? That’s a bit long, isn’t it?

Yes, market changes will be geometric, not linear.

Geometric? Did you mean exponential? I think you meant exponential.

No matter what survey you can pick out the Republican population. No Progress EVER. 1899 was the best year Ever.

To be reasonable, there are a number of Republicans (or at least people who vote repug) who are true conservatives – they recycle, drive hybrids and/or EVs, etc. Conservation and stewardship are not Liberal values – they are human values, and many people across many industries know that and work toward it (particularly small enterprises – Big Business is another story).

Results may depends on the respondant’s view of the meaning of mainstream. I think of mainstream more by consideration, so I consider hybrids to be mainstream even though hybrids are only a small percentage of the market.

I certainly think that plug-in cars will be mainstream by then, and it just depends on lowering costs of batteries and power electronics. I have no doubt that in certain segments it’s the cost issue and that as long as the costs can be reduced there potential market for plug-ins is far greater than it could ever be for pure hybrids.

I was about to say the same thing. If you ask people if they consider hybrids mainstream, I think a vast majority would say yes, even though the actual market-share is still quite small.

The EV will be mainstream in less than 10 years. EVs are already good, with 10 years of development and refinement they will easily be on par with ICE cars.

With mainstream I mean that the average Joe will seriously consider buying an EV over an ICE car.

A more interesting question is whether it will be possible at all to buy an ICE car in 25 years.

That assumes a linear progression of technology. You never know when things are going to stall, or there will be some breakthrough. Sure, there’s a plethora of new theoretical technologies out there, but until that stuff actually comes to market, it’s all just hype.

The CNBC guy focuses a lot on infrastructure but infrastructure is not nearly as important as it is for fossil fuels.
Everybody has a electrical outlet in their garage and for people that rent parking space outlets will be built for them. I guess you could call this part of the infrastructure but then there will be far more than 11 million “charging stations” world-wide.

And then there’s an infrastructural effect of market penetration.
The more people who have plug-ins, the more likely you’ll be able to plug in when you visit friends or family.

Some people have guest rooms. I could see people having guest chargers.

Depends on what one means by infrastructure. It’s more than just charging, it’s also manufacturing the batteries, and mining and processing the materials to make the batteries. As well as all the coltan, neodymium, and other rare earth elements used in electric vehicles.

“…coltan, neodymium, and other rare earth elements…”

None of which has any significant use in a Tesla, for example.

That question could be rephrased: “Do you think EV batteries will cost 5% to 10% of what they do now?”

That’s what it would take for EVs to be mainstream, and I doubt it will happen within 25 years.

It could also be rephrased:”Do you think a barrel of oil or a gallon of gas will cost ten times as much as it does now?”

Might sound crazy but, I don’t doubt that it could happen within 25 years. We been sucking on those supergiants for a long time and haven’t found any decent replacements for the last forty years or so.

Or Batterys at a third of the actual price (Some studies mention 375 $ now, 100 $ might be possible) and oil for 4 times the price like now. Thats also a factor of 12 or 8,3% for you. 😉

Seem even more possible!

“Do you think EV batteries will cost 5% to 10% of what they do now?”


“That’s what it would take for EVs to be mainstream, and I doubt it will happen within 25 years.”

LOL!, no. If batteries cost 5% to 10% of what they do now then NO ONE would drive a gas car.

You are not very good with numbers. Even if we assume $400/KWH now (Tesla is reportedly in the $200s range), a $40/KWH battery would be so cheap that NOBODY would put up with noise, smell, lurching transmissions, high maintenance costs, smog checks, high fuel costs, etc. of gasoline/diesel cars.

What changed this year is that auto manufacturers stopped trying to peddle the EV and PHEV as an eco-jellybean and understood that the majority don’t care enough about the environmental issues to change their unsustainable consumption habits.

Instead, if you sneak a PHEV or EV propulsion under the hood of the same car with the same desirables…God forbid you make it even BETTER (P1, LaFerrari, Porsche 918), they will scoop them up. Sure there is a bit of a socio-technical transition to take place, but the revolution is here.

Believe that


The definition of ‘mainstream’ is ambiguous. I’d certainly consider EVs to be ‘mainstream’ in Silicon Valley as there is no way you can drive 101 without seeing a Leaf, Volt, Tesla, or Fiat 500e.

Since 2000, gasoline prices have risen from $1.00 a gallon to 3.50 a gallon in 2014.

That is a 350 per cent increase in 14 years or a net increase of 17% per year.

Seventeen per cent is well above the general inflation rate of approximately 3 per cent per year.

Oil is getting more and more expensive and oil consumption demands an ever expanding share of each and everyone’s disposable income.

Time for electric cars….

True, however the price of oil is rather in-elastic (meaning regardless of price fluctuations it will still sell) Clearly however EV’s have been eating away at the car market.

I think when the average EV gets a solid 150 mile range, ICE vehicles will be in big trouble. Already I think the Leaf’s 80 odd mile range is manageable, but apparently the general public needs a bit more mileage to tip them over.

Gasoline was relatively cheap in 2000. Look at a larger sample and see that inflation adjusted pump price is pretty stable over decades of data. If it were not, SUVs wouldn’t sell.

Gasoline wasn’t $1/gallon in 2000, at least NOT in California.

It was around $2/gallon. Today it is around $3.80/$4 per gallon.

That is 100% increase in 14 years… Still a large amount, just NOT as much as you indicated…

Other states might have gone up higher, but that is mainly due to local state tax increases or local market.

I bought my first tank of gas in 2002 at 16 years old. I’ll never forget I paid 1.09 a gallon in Washington state. I’d believe it was an even dollar in 2000

I think it will be an accelerating change that is occurring almost imperceptibly, if you just look at the percentage of new cars sold goes up slowly over time. Oddly the more ev’s on the road the more gas prices will stabilize and even fall. So the adoption of ev’s will also be beneficial to those who continue to drive ice’s. Usually those less able to afford the more preferable technology of the ev, until the price becomes so close to that of a ice that within a few years of ownership the ev is even more economical to own.
Also as more people lease or buy ev’s, they will be less likely to go back to ice, and neither will those who buy the used ev’s. So similar to a slow moving blight, or pestilence, the gypsy moth seems like a good comparison, though it has moved much more slowly, a century to go from NY to the mid-west, but the principle is the same.
Inexorable change.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but Britain has a healthy ‘specials and kitcar’ market. Once the cost of batteries, controllers and motors comes down I can see a lot of kitcars being made that are all electric powered. Hopefully Formula E will open the eyes of the masses as to what electric can offer. For many the only concept of an electric vehicle is the slow funny thing that we used to see delivering milk!
First race is this Saturday. Available on ITV4 for those of us in Britain.


%25 (of new vehicle sales)

I believe that you will see major changes with the electrification of the “New Vehicle North American Fleet” by 2025 let alone 40 years due to the Federal Requirement (CAFE regs) for manufacture fleets to reach 54.5mpg Average. It will lead to more EV’s, plug in hybrids and eREV’s to reach the goal short of some new propulsion system coming to market.