Whether this is another curious case of not seeing the forest because of the trees or a bold prediction for the car industry - remains to be seen
Gestamp Automoción is a Spanish multi-national engineering company. The company is one of the leaders of the European automotive industry. So when their founder and president Francisco Riberas states that it's not the time for the electric car revolution just yet, people listen up.
“It's not just innovation, you have to be profitable, too, and you have to produce a lot.” While Volkswagen manufactures 43,000 vehicles per day, Tesla barely reaches 40,000 EVs in one year “because making cars is not so easy, even if they are electric cars,” he says.
While Riberas isn't a hard-headed case like the Lexus president, as he acknowledges it’s a matter of time before electric and autonomous vehicles become commonplace, he still thinks it's not going to happen any time soon.
“Until a certain critical mass is reached, the evolution of the electric car will not begin to accelerate,” Riberas, who heads a multinational, Tier 1 supplier of metal products to the auto industry, says at a recent meeting of business journalists at Menéndez Pelayo International University here.
Even though the International Energy Agency’s 2017 forecast reports that by 2025, the global fleet of EVs will reach a number of between 40 and 70 million vehicles, Riberas' stance on the matter is completely different. He believes that, globally, by the year 2025, just 15% of the cars produced will be fully electric. He points to the potential obstacles such as battery recycling and sufficient power generation needed to sustain the charging infrastructure as the culprits for the lower EV adoption rates.
Furthermore, he's the second high-level executive that's mentioned battery recycling as a potential bottleneck for higher EV adoption rates - the same argument was stated by the Lexus president a few days earlier.
Riberas even goes so far as stating that EV's benefits can be offset by factors such as power generation sources and air pollution in certain countries. While we tend to agree that is a big factor - even in the developed countries - minimizing the effect of air pollution, in, for example, China and containing it to one larger source instead of millions of small ones, might be a good intermediary solution to a growing problem.
“For example, in China, which is the country where the electric vehicle fleet grows fastest, electricity is obtained mainly by burning coal and, consequently, emitting large amounts of (carbon dioxide) in the process.”
Further arguments for the less than stellar electric vehicle adoption rates come from the corner of the production industry itself. Riberas claims that currently, electric vehicles, at such low production volumes, simply don't adhere to the scale of production rule and necessary profit margins arising from higher production numbers. While this may be true, the recent examples of growing production numbers for most car makers producing completely EV cars, are signifying the trend will soon be reversed.
“It’s not just innovation,” Riberas says. “You have to be profitable, too, and you have to produce a lot.” While Volkswagen manufactures 43,000 vehicles per day, Tesla barely has reached 40,000 EVs in one year, “Because making cars is not so easy, even if they are electric cars,” he says.
Riberas additionally warns against the ongoing war on existing propulsion technologies. He cited the trend of demonizing diesel engines in the European markets, despite their CO2 emissions being lower than their gasoline counterparts. While we tend to agree that both diesel and petrol technology has come a long way in the last decade or so, it's still not on the same level of CO2 free electric vehicles.
Clearly, the CO2 emissions are lower than those of gasoline engines, but those engines produce the much unwanted nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) gases. And we all know that these poisonous gases can have adverse effects on both human health and the environment. For example, in Britain alone, known NO2 emissions have been estimated to kill 23,500 people every year, according to aerosol science professor Ian Colbeck of the University of Essex, southeastern England.
“We are demonizing diesel vehicles when they are now much cleaner than five years ago and the diesel engines to come will even be much cleaner, but nobody seems to want to talk about it,” Riberas says.
After all the attacks Riberas made against electric vehicles, he furthermore went after autonomous vehicles as well. While we can grasp his arguments quite clearly, one cannot think of viewing this in any other way, then the old guard, fearing the future and demonizing something that we feel will be the most important advancement in the last 50 years. To add more to rant, he doesn't believe that two of the biggest companies in the world - Apple and Google - sitting on piles of cash and numerous R&D labs worldwide, will be able to produce their own electric car any time soon.
“It has been widely reported that within five years, we are going to live in a world of ‘robocabs.’ but that will take much longer to happen,” he says, noting adequate legal frameworks for autonomous vehicles are not yet in place.
Riberas doubts a technology company such as Google or Apple will produce their own cars. “In any case, they would buy an established car manufacturer,” he says.
Source: Wards Auto