The Economist Touts Tesla, Cover Story Reports ICE Is Roadkill

Tesla Model 3

AUG 22 2017 BY EVANNEX 19

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Tesla Solar Roof in Slate


The most recent cover story in The Economist* announces, “The death of the internal combustion engine… it had a good run. But the end is in sight.”

In a remarkable account, The Economist reports that the internal combustion engine’s “days are numbered. Rapid gains in battery technology favour electric motors instead… Today’s electric cars, powered by lithium-ion batteries, can do much better.”


The Economist’s most recent issue calls the internal combustion engine “Roadkill” on its cover (Source: The Economist*)

Recent developments are encouraging:

“Last month Britain joined a lengthening list of electric-only countries, saying that all new cars must be zero-emission by 2050. The shift from fuel and pistons to batteries and electric motors is unlikely to take that long. The first death rattles of the internal combustion engine are already reverberating around the world—and many of the consequences will be welcome.”

Already, there are “Mass-market vehicles with driving ranges close to that offered by a full tank of petrol, such as Tesla’s Model 3” that will be a catalyst for change. But sweeping changes ahead are fast-approaching. “Many forecasters reckon that the lifetime costs of owning and driving an electric car will be comparable to those for a fuel burner within a few years, leading sales of the electric cars to soar in the 2020s and to claim the majority sometime during the 2030s.”

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman.


The Economist’s most recent issue calls the internal combustion engine “Roadkill” on its cover (Source: The Economist*)

The benefits of zero emissions driving will be significant: “electric propulsion will offer enormous environmental and health benefits. Charging car batteries from central power stations is more efficient than burning fuel in separate engines. Existing electric cars reduce carbon emissions by 54% compared with petrol-powered ones, according to America’s National Resources Defence Council. That figure will rise as electric cars become more efficient and grid-generation becomes greener. Local air pollution will fall, too. The World Health Organisation says that it is the single largest environmental health risk, with outdoor air pollution contributing to 3.7m deaths a year. One study found that car emissions kill 53,000 Americans each year, against 34,000 who die in traffic accidents.”

And its not just battery electric vehicles that will transform energy:

“For Tesla and other big battery-makers grid-storage projects are the most attractive part of the electricity market; they offer contracts that use up otherwise surplus capacity in satisfyingly large job lots… [so Tesla’s] gigafactory is not just for cars. Hearing of electricity blackouts in South Australia, Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, tweeted to the state’s premier in March that by the end of the year Tesla could provide enough battery storage to make sure that the grid never fell over again. At the gigafactory they are now hard at work cramming 129 megawatt-hours (MWh) of capacity into a facility designed to keep their boss’s word.”


Model 3 parked in the lobby of the Tesla Gigafactory (Image: Motor Trend)

How big is this project for Tesla?

“When installed on the other side of the Pacific, it will be the biggest such grid-based system in the world; but many more are on the way. Industrial-scale lithium-ion battery packs—essentially lots of the battery packs used in cars wired together, their chemistry and electronics tweaked to support quicker charging and discharging—are increasingly popular with grid operators looking for ways to smooth out the effects of intermittent power supplies such as solar and wind… Batteries are becoming an integral part of the low-emissions future.”

To address the accelerating growth of electric cars and grid-scale energy storage projects, battery expansion efforts are already underway by the industry’s top players: “The top five manufacturers—Japan’s Panasonic, South Korea’s LG Chem and Samsung SDI, and China’s BYD and CATL—are ramping up capital expenditure with a view to almost tripling capacity by 2020… The vast $5bn gigafactory Tesla is building with Panasonic in Nevada is thought to already be producing about 4GWh a year. Tesla says it will produce 35GWh in 2018. Just four years ago, that would have been enough for all applications across the whole world.”


(2) Panasonic/Tesla lead worldwide battery manufacturing capacity; (3) battery costs continue to drop as battery energy density improves (Source: The Economist*)

One reason for this massive energy industry shake-up — plummeting battery costs: “All the big producers are adding capacity in part because it drives down unit costs, as the past few years have shown. Lithium-ion cells (the basic components of batteries) cost over $1,000 a kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2010; last year they were in the $130-200 range… Tesla says that cells for the Model 3 are cheaper.”

And Tesla continues to push the envelope further: “Tesla and Panasonic have now developed the 2170 [battery cell which is] a bit longer and wider; Mr Musk says it will be the most energy-dense battery on the market. The company says that the cost of driving a Model 3, released in late July to rave reviews, will be half that of any of its previous vehicles. At the car’s launch Mr Musk seemed a bit overawed at the prospect of producing 500,000 such vehicles next year: ‘Welcome to production hell,’ he told the assembled workers.”


*Source: Excerpts from The Economist — The death of the internal combustion engine, and, After electric cars, what more will it take for batteries to change the face of energy?

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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19 Comments on "The Economist Touts Tesla, Cover Story Reports ICE Is Roadkill"

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They call it, “Roadkill”.. I’ve always Called it , “Clunker Technology”

Ever since tRump the nation has been prone to exaggerated hyperbole.


I guess there is no demand for ICE.

You’re right , the more people will find out about the TCO + health benefits the less demand there will be. It’s Clearer by the day to more and more people.

Tesla already succeeded against all the (paid) nay-sayers (“accelerate the advent of sustainable transport”). It’s been accelerated big time, see Daimler’s investment , VW strategy, even Ford’s rumored new direction. It’s already game over there is just some transition time now.

I’m not so sure.
Even here in the suburbs of liberal, green California, there are plenty of truck-loving aficionados.

These suburban cowboys love raised pickup trucks with wide tires and large exhaust pipes. The idea is to “smoke” other drivers on purpose. Some of them also like motorcycles but not electric because their bikes must have Screaming Eagle exhaust upgrades for the ultimate cool sound.

They won’t be going away and thus so will ICE vehicles.

Believe it or not, redneck states are only a very, very tiny part of the world.

Find a No-Carbon ETF, like: SPYX or ETHO.
Get out of carbon at the top, the top is now.
There’s no further growth in carbon.

The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades…

You know, fifty thou a year will buy a lot of beer . . .

I would love to believe this will happen. We own a Bolt. We also have a tiny bit of Tesla stock, as a result of the SolarCity debacle. However, I suspect only ecological, and economic collapse will kill ICE.

Really Tesla? A model home with a once car garage? Everyone knows you have to have an extra if you drive a Tesla!! That’s why we have two! 😀

“Roadkill” seems a bit overly harsh…sudden death with vultures picking at the carcass.

The end of the ICE is inevitable. Elon said that people would keep them like people keep horses, for sentimental reasons and not for practical transportation.

This is more of a European view, and quite believable given their ability to set mandates and incentives, like they did for diesels (although that didn’t work out quite as expected).

But the US is a different story since there is no shortage of people still living in the past century. Rural types will be buying ICE vehicles for some time, regardless of what makes sense.

What Europe are you talking about? Every single major EU city is a disaster when it comes to air quality, the clean diesel experiment failed miserably. What mandate will ever come in favor of evs from Germany lead EU?

I sometimes wonder if the “rural areas stay ICE” thesis is right. (Bloomberg NEF and other commentators talk about it as well.)

Instead, as we get more EVs on the road I think petrol (gas) stations will disappear and if this happens in rural areas then the longest trip many people will take will be to fill up their tank. If it’s that inconvenient in rural areas to fill up then even an entrenched culture of ICE love could be overcome.

In the UK we’ve lost thousands of petrol stations in the last decade already and EVs will accelerate this trend leaving rural ICE owners stranded.

Maybe I’m projecting a future I’d like to see though!

We need a paradigm shift of this nature for so many reasons. Great that The Economist accented the shift. Great for us all.

Evangelos Michalopoulos

Alternative title. Who killed the internal combustion engine?