Electric Cars Are Not Winning, But It’s Only A Matter Of Time

MAR 13 2019 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 77

While it may appear otherwise to most people, electric cars are destined to win.

Many — if not most — people still think EVs are a fad. This is especially true in the U.S. and due to a variety of reasons. Few automakers have produced compelling electric vehicles and found notable sales success. Some early hybrid and electric cars gave the segment a bad name. Trucks and large SUVs are hugely popular and not yet available in EV form. However, the bottom line is that electric cars are expensive, charging infrastructure is limited, and gas is cheap.

For all the above reasons (and many more), electric vehicles aren’t winning. Still, if you look at those reasons and understand that all the above is rapidly changing, it shows that EVs are destined to win.

It won’t be long before many automakers’ compelling electric cars come to market, including vehicles like pickup trucks and large SUVs. Today’s EVs are far from the “golf carts” of yesteryear. The price of EVs is dropping and will reach parity with gas-powered cars in the near future. Meanwhile, total cost of ownership is already on par in some cases. Charging infrastructure is growing quickly and gas prices can’t stay low forever.

The above video dives deeper into why electric cars are not yet winning. It cites automakers like Tesla, Rivian, and Polestar (Volvo) as  those that may push EVs over the edge. Further, it talks about what automakers must do to push EVs into the winning position.

Moreover, our job as EV advocates is to get the word out and educate people. Check out the video and let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Video Description via Second Thought on YouTube:

Why Electric Vehicles Haven’t Won…Yet

Electric vehicles have been making big headlines lately, but they still haven’t dethroned traditional, gasoline powered cars. What will it take for the likes of Tesla, Rivian, and Polestar to take their spot as the top dogs of the automotive world?

Categories: EV Education, General, Videos

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77 Comments on "Electric Cars Are Not Winning, But It’s Only A Matter Of Time"

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I always shake my head at the comment that gasoline is “cheap.” It’s cheap like fast food is cheap. Humans can live on .99 cent McDonald cheeseburgers, for a time. The long term effects and true cost, though, are very expensive.

The american public has a very short term focus. If it doesn’t affect them now, it is not a concern.
Until the US is governed by a body that believes in collective ownership of the future well being of the country vs capitalism and quick profits, then you won’t see people weined off cheap gas and cheap fast food.

That’s largely human nature. We evolved to worry whether or not this cave has a bear in it . Long term worries took a back seat

Actually, a more up-to-date knowledge of human evolution would say that we evolved to worry whether we can make it to the water hole without any of the Big Cats getting our kids. The caves and the bears came much later.

But I hear you 🙂

Actually long term thinking was the key to our survival, that’s why elders were so esteemed. Modern civilized man is much less aware, less in tune with nature, and uses long term thinking less, than early man.

Absolutely, we need a socialist USA. The USSA.

Or real free markets that takes into account the costs to society.

Yes, monopoly power DESTROYS the free market.

Short term focus indeed as proved by the fact that F 150 is the best selling car in the US.

Comparing food choices to vehicle power choices is flawed, though. With the same amount of money, one could choose to buy a cheeseburger or a healthier option. The choices are there for the same price. But one of the significant issues the video pointed out is the price disparity between electric vehicles and gas vehicles. Top 10 EVs average $45k while top 10 gas vehicles average $27k. So if we go back to your food analogy, it would be like the only 2 ways to get food in town are the McDonalds, which is fairly inexpensive but not always healthy, and the Whole Foods market, which is usually healthy, but very expensive. The best solution would be bringing an ordinary supermarket into town, where people can get healthy food inexpensively. In order to make that solution work in the world of vehicles, battery prices need to drop while capacity rises. As more companies are investing in electric vehicles, the battery manufacturers are more likely to be able to improve their processes faster, making EVs more widely affordable. But we’re not there yet. There needs to be a transition period where both electric and gas cars can coexist in order to… Read more »

Many people stick with an inferior product for a long time: — Windows XP!

XP actually worked fairly well, as opposed to Vista and to some extent 10’s shortcomings.

Sure, but as a Mac user, I have to admit that Windows 10 is Microsoft best product in 15 years. Aside from the absolute necessity of keeping up with Windows releases just for the security updates.

If you have software that you want to keep running you’d build a virtual environment in Windows 10 and load Windows XP in there and your old but loved software in a virtual environment.

I think that’s a good analogy, as people will stick with what they know, as in inertia. They drive the same way to work even if you show them an alternate which is faster with less traffic.
Why back in my day I would walk uphill to school, both ways.

Or any Windows.

Yes, Windows is like a gas car. The past.

I would never upgrade to that trash. Windows ME forever baby!

Windows 98SE is best Windows.

I can’t imagine giving up instant electric heat in winter to ever go back to an ICE.
Not to mention listening to my fav music with no engine noise, the sweet smooth instant power of an electric car. Never Giving That Up. It’s the Apex of Luxury.

John , Very nicely said ! and, So very truthful !

What we need to declare game over for ICE vehicles is robo taxis that as BEVs can save 10.000 USD per year in fuel cost when driving 100k miles per year. Tesla will have 1 million robo vehicles on the street by 2022.

At that will be on Musk’s colony on Mars right?

Right, but they will all be underground going through tunnels, so technically not ON Mars.

None of those million Teslas will be robotaxis.

Tesla will do what is best for the mission and that will be to produce robo taxis for own fleet because this is how Tesla make most money as fast as possible and thereby maximize its ability to invest in new production capacity.

It’s pretty simple, high pricing and its not range anxiety but rather charger station anxiety…

Kenneth Bokor (EV Revolution Show - YouTube)

With longer range BEVs, it’s now more like “bladder anxiety” as the reason to stop.

The fundamental problem with EVs for a weekend getaway is the assumption that your lodging will have a charging station that is operational, unoccupied and can provide a sufficent charging while you’re parked…If your weekend getaway is 200 miles away, all current major EVs would not be able to make the round trip…

Not true. Most places like that will be within charging distance of a supercharger at a minimum.

And how far out of your way will you have to go to reach that supercharger?

The fundamental issue is still that you can pump a LOT of driving range in a gas tank a heck of a lot quicker and more conveniently than you can charge any EV.

I’m as dedicated to making the rEVolution happen as anyone else here. But we can’t ignore how much tougher it is today to use EVs for trips longer than their battery range. Yes, people do it, but it’s almost always a lot more work than driving on ancient dead algae, especially if you’re making a trip for the first time.

As he ignores cars with 300 miles of range, he’s also going to move his “vacation home” 500 miles away, so this argument is “still valid” next year.

You might be the exception rather than the norm. Really, when was the last time you went right out into the wilds where there was no electricity? Any old power point will do to charge your EV, and if you’re going to that remote location then you probably packed a whole lot of stuff, so put a nice long extension cord in as well. EV charging problem solved in 99% of cases.

Even a 120 outlet will do in a pinch. It is hard to find a place where one is not available. Over night will get you 30-50 miles.

Sadly — even for Tesla there are issues. The only way for me to go to Panama City Beach from Atlanta is to go about 50-60 miles out of my way — each way — which adds about 2 hours total to an under 5 hour (280ish mile) trip in an ICE. I so badly want to take my Model 3 — but the 2 planned charging stations along the way are still in the “coming in 2019” bucket…..Also sadly there are very little places to charge in Panama City Beach and most if not all of the condo’s there do not have a means to charge an EV. I really want to dump our ICE and pick up a Model Y in the next 2 years……I just don’t think that is feasible yet in the East.

Yea – it’s getting better — but it is nowhere near there yet.

Kenneth Bokor (EV Revolution Show - YouTube)

So true, education is key to adoption growth. More choice is coming and the tipping point from ICEV to EV is inevitable, just a matter time for sure. IMO, a generational period. Won’t be 100% EVs anytime soon either, but a majority of new sales globally for EVs passing 50% is a reality.

It’s disappointing the only breakout vehicle of Gen 2 is the Model 3. So far, it’s China and Tesla.

When the Volt and the Leaf started to arrive in real numbers in 2011, I thought that by 2016 we would see a second generation of electric vehicles that would be showing up in large numbers. I have to admit that I am disappointed in everyone except Tesla.

GM dealers turned out to be secret partners of Tesla, and killed the Volt with no sales.
( Maybe they were early buyers of Tesla stock. )

I disagree. Global vehicle market declined last year, while EV sales increased almost two-fold. It’s a matter of time and that more prospective buyers are exposed to EVs by word-of-mouth, test drives, events etc.

I’ll stay with my prediction, long standing here: EVs at %25 of new car sales by 2025. There are at least three forces coming into play that are game changers now:

1. The availability of different kinds of vehicles, like trucks and SUVs.
2. The cost is meeting the cost of gas cars (it will go lower than them soon).
3. The fast charge car/charger network is headed above 150kW, even outside Tesla.

By 2025 there will be a 50kW car that charges from the 150kW network, and it cheaper than an average gas car at approximately $20,000, and probably will come from VW. I.E., smaller than average battery, but very fast charging, since that does not add anything materially to the cost.

Think about that. Such a car, even with a “brain damaged” battery (by the new, long range standards) would charge in 15-20 minutes and be capable of cross country driving because of that.

This is a very achievable goal. After all, Tesla has just introduced a approx 200 mile car at $35,000 that charges at 250kW (!)… The standard range model 3.

True, the battery improvements are coming fast a furious right now.

Scott, While I agree by 2025 we will get close to what you mention. But for #2, that is Right now EVs are not close to gasoline cars in buying terms.

The $35k base Model 3 is a compact sedan … even though it is supposedly luxury & high tech, for a common person a new compact sedan can be bought under $20K so that is 75% percent cheaper. The fuel and other maintenance savings are also under $500 per year hence it would take 30 years to achieve cost parity (we pay 14c/kWh for clean/renewable electricity and under $2 for gas while driving 12k a year hence replacing our 40mpg car would just result in ~$200 annual fuel savings).

Until EV prices are just around $2000 above an equivalent ICE car (non-luxury) I still don’t see them as mass-market EVs … and I am also waiting for that to happen much before 2025!

I would agree, but the TM3 is NOT a common sedan. A 20k sedan is a stripped sedan. A TM3 with standard range and no options is still a computer on wheels. No comparision.

Tesla sold 130,000 Model 3 last year. How many more before it’s considered mass market?
If every car company had one EV model that sold 130,000 per year, then you just seen a huge change in the EV situation.
Plenty of cars have that potential. LEAF could easily do that if Nissan made one change (active thermal management) to take away from their bad reputation.
Other EV’s only made for compliance purposes could also reach those numbers if they were made readily available across all markets.
Model 3 will spook the big Auto just like Model S did. If Tesla gets significant deposits for Model Y it would be amazing if big Auto doesn’t change gears really fast.
And if that happens and truck companies like Ford doesn’t forecast how Tesla truck will go, then they will most certainly be in for a shock I think.

VW said that:

“The reality is that building an electric car involves some 30 percent less effort than one powered by an internal combustion engine,” Diess said. “That means we need to make job cuts.”

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-volkswagen-results/vw-warns-on-jobs-as-margins-slip-electric-plans-accelerate-idUSKBN1QT0IB

That means potentially 30 cheaper than a gas car. We have been saying this for a while: EVs are inherently cheaper to manufacture, and to run, than gas cars. Look at the new VW EV platform. Its like Tesla, the works are mostly contained below the passenger space. The new standard is not even to have an engine compartment, since the engine is much smaller, and does not need to be accessed for service as often.

Right now, the biggest cost factor in the car is the battery. However, the charging has been making gains as well, and cars limited to 50kW or below can trade smaller battery costs for lower sales costs and make up for it with faster charging. The next 5-6 years are going to redefine the EV market.

“The price of EVs is dropping and will reach parity with gas-powered cars in the near future. ”

That’s the core assumption of the article. If the above is true, then (almost obviously) electric cars will end up “winning” against ICE vehicles. But there’s no *guarantee* that EV’s will have to end up reaching price parity with ICE cars, and certainly no guarantee that this will happen in the near future. Many folks are optimistic that this will be the case, based on recent price trends; but if for whatever reason battery prices don’t keep falling as fast as current projections, you could end up with EV’s “losing” for a lot longer (absent regulation or price intervention or other deliberate efforts to change market outcomes).

There’s no inevitability here. If once EV’s are a mature technology they end up being cheaper (overall) than ICE vehicles, then we would certainly expect that they would supplant ICE’s. But it is still possible that even after EV’s are a mature technology that they are *more expensive* than ICE’s overall….and if that happens, “winning” isn’t inevitable, but will only happen if there is a deliberate effort to create that outcome.

still some rare people might consider the global warming CO2 factors too(for their kids maybe?)

If EVs were half the price of gas cars and came with a free night with a call girl, it would still take a decade for them to become the normal car. Gas cars are just too entrenched in the mentality of people at the moment.

I don’t know the 18-38 male might very well jump on that offer.
Too much of a sweetener there.

No need to reach price parity.

Here’s a little dirty secret: 2 years return on investment. When the ROI is 2 years or less, it becomes a no brainer for every business and most people. Right now, it’s more like 5 years ROI, but it’s falling fast.

Boukman … Please explain how do you get 5 year ROI?

In my case we have a 40mpg car and gas costs under $2 per gallon. Hence driving 12k miles costs $600 a year
Clean/renewable electricity costs 14c/kwh and supposing the car does 4 miles per kWh then it would cost $420 a year

Hence fuel savings are $180 … with additional maintenance savings etc. I expect $300 to best case $500 savings a year.
Most basic sedans cost ~$20k, and base Model 3 (though supposedly luxury & high tech which a common man does not care) costs $35k. It would take 30 + ROI right now based on above actual scenario (even with federal subsidy it would take 20 years). For 5 years ROI (which I would take it) … I need the EV to cost $22.5K

So take the Leaf then…which is actually more comparable to that $20k gas car. You can get that for under $20k after the fed credit. I guess you can find excuses if you want to.

The Leaf/Bolt is hatchback … I currently own a hatchback that I got for under $18k … and yes everyone is not eligible for a full credit. I am not trying to say EV revolution is not happening just stating that it would actually really happen when similar sized cars are not available to all (without federal credit) for $2k to $3k premium.

You make some good points, and I’m glad you’re considering your personal use case and localized costs of ownership. Most people here are speaking in national averages, and you’re an unusual case, which is where some of the confusion is coming from. 1. If you’re actually making lifetime 40mpg, then, according to Fuelly⑴, you’re probably driving a hybrid. Most people here are comparing EVs to traditional ICEVs, where the contrast is more stark. 2. According to GasBuddy⑵, there are only a handful of gas stations in the USA where fuel is still under $2.00/gal. Current national average is around $2.51, and the EIA⑶ predicts oil prices through 2025 should make gas prices settle around $3.10/gal. I’m happy you have cheap fuel. Most of us aren’t so fortunate, and fuel should only get more expensive from here. 3. If you are eligible for federal EV credits, then the effective price of a LEAF (or Bolt, with its current sale pricing) is $23k vs $20k for a Civic. Driving the EV (3.6mi/kWh @13¢/kWh) instead of a Civic (36mpg @$2.39/gal) will save the average American driver $650/yr, recouping the difference in 4.8 years. The EV should save money on maintenance, too, but that’s… Read more »

Appreciate your detailed response.
1. I am unfortunately driving a pure ICE car 🙁 … its a hatchback that gives ~40mpg
2. I stay in Texas where gas was below $2 for most of winter. Right now its at $2.1 at our local Costco. Wasn’t trying to pick low numbers just stating what I was used to paying.
3. Nissan Leaf & Bolt are hatchbacks. One can get an hatchbacks under $18K (i got mine). A Model 3 can be compared to sedan like Civic.

That said I agree to your ~$650/year savings for other states (where gas might hover around $2.5 or more), just don’t think its still under 5 years for ROI (if you compare in the same car category). Also not everyone is eligible for the full tax credit and even with additional state credit the base Leaf is a compromise buy with the 150 mile range especially in Texas where distances are long.

The US fleet EPA average is 25 mpg.
And realistically, the real work is probably only getting 19 mpg, and 17 in winter.

Or to simplify.
If you know your MPG you’re probably getting close to it.
If you don’t check your MPG you’re probably getting 7 less, and you don’t want to know just how bad your driving is.

That is my disconnect … Dont compare to fleet average. If I am out there to buy a Model 3, please compare it a similar sized sedan mpg (35mpg+). If you are planning to compare a Leaf then compare to hatchback (my pure ICE hatchback gives me 40mpg).

If people were to drop some misconceptions we would be able to go EV much faster.
So the average car price is 35K, well the average US driver does an average 29.2 miles a day.
But yet we want 25K cars that do 300 miles on a charge. Currently not possible. It will take time with improved batteries and charging tech.

They are not misconceptions. I find it more to be a skewed perspective. Lots of people base their car buying choices on the extreme circumstance, not the average one. You can see it in the discussions on ultra fast charging and long distance travel in forums like this one on a daily basis. Reading them one would think that drivers literally do a cross country commute on a daily basis. Of course it’s the same thinking that leads to folks commuting in 8 passenger SUVs or huge pickup trucks, usually alone. Their choice is based on the most extreme circumstances, not the common or average one. And the average new car price generally uses the wrong statistic. The mean price isn’t the crucial item, it’s the median price. An article you can search for with “how-much-does-a-typical-american-actually-pay-for-a-car” concludes: “…it’s easy to assume that most car buyers are shelling out $35,000 or more to take a new car home, but the reality is quite different. Most buyers stick with used cars, and those that do buy a new car buy one with an MSRP of around $25,000 and a total take-home price of around $31,000. That’s where the mass market actually is.”… Read more »

Spot on … the $35k average price includes trucks and SUVs …. EV sedans (Model 3) and hatchbacks (Leaf/Bolt) need to be compared with hatchback & compact sedan average prices which is around $16k to $21k (Source: https://mediaroom.kbb.com/2018-02-01-Average-New-Car-Prices-Rise-Nearly-4-Percent-For-January-2018-On-Shifting-Sales-Mix-According-To-Kelley-Blue-Book) I agree EVs tend to have more futuristic tech but an average person but most persons buying in those category (non-luxury) want just a good reliable car. Hence the prices need to come down further and there needs to be more competition for EVs to be mainstream.

Still in the first generation, when kids of current ev owners grow up that’s all they’ll buy, plus fleets take some time to turn over. So getting people into evs is critical, and this will happen more and more as evs proliferate.
It’s just the early innings, as you point out there a number of segments where evs do no even have an entry.

1% market share is not winning. This is exactly like Linux vs Windows on desktop. Sane people would use only Ubuntu/Linux which is non-NSA, lighter, more reliable, free etc etc, but still Microsoft has a pre-installation monopoly.

Happily Model S runs on Ubuntu. VW made a deal with Microsoft which means that they are going to crash and burn just like all Microsoft’s “partners” 😀

Hmmm. I thought Linux was crushing it on web servers, and small shops and start ups.
Those who cannot afford Windows pricing.

He was talking about desktops.

I’m not so sure, we can’t predict the future. What we know now could be completely wrong in 6 months, things are changing that fast. We’re also relying on a lot of predictions and presumptions, and ultimately relying on the fact people will WANT to buy them. I see a big resurgence in ICE technology being very disruptive. Between around 2005 and 2015 the major OEM’s stopped developing Spark ignition engines and concentrated on Compression ignition, and now have diverted that attention towards BEV’s and HFCEV’s. But lately, especially after Dieselgate, OEM’s have started developing Spark Ignition engines again, using advancements taken from Diesel (such as high pressure fuel injection that can have multiple events per combustion cycle) and combining them with new technologies. If Mazda’s HCCI engine works as well as they say, combine that with the proactive cylinder/torque on demand systems being developed by several companies now with some mild electric assist for torque fill and energy recovery and you are looking at genuine 100-150mpg vehicles. With potentially carbon neutral Carbon Capture technology developing alongside these vastly more efficient engines it could tip the balance towards ICE before EV’s have fully developed. It’s just a thought though, and… Read more »

Sometimes the bad can turn into a net positive. People looking for the inflection point on something like EV are often missing the bigger inflection point. It’s really human nature to create ways to mitigate habits vs changing habits. The inflection point of people’s bad habits being out of control can bring innovation that’s net better in the end and otherwise never would have started, or would have started a lot later.

So we need to develop better carbon capture because people and countries won’t change. Well with that tech we can have a lot more direct control over the environment. It also accelerates the development of better PV cells and wind and alternative energy. Those things dont get started or get started a lot slower if things aren’t getting out of control, meaning the reliance on fossil fuels persists longer. Other things like developing drought tolerant plants can help the world eat, or desalination can help the world drink.

Thank you for taking my rambling and turning it into something more eloquent and understandable 🙂

California has “drought problems”, and yet recently has allowed more water than all of its reservoirs can hold to flow out into the ocean, and will be back complaining about drought again in a year or so. So CA is investing in desal technology now, even though it would be much more cost effective TO FIRE OUR USELESS POLITICIANS.

Water flows out today because the damns cant hold anymore. Tahoe is already at the legal height limit and the snow hasn’t started to even melt yet. They’re draining Tahoe in March, maybe even started in February. That’s crazy.

Building a new dam and reservoir isn’t exactly something that happens overnight. 2 of the past 3 winters have been extra wet here though, many say because of climate change. CA could well become much less problematic for drought as the Pacific warms a bit.

And with all the water being dumped there could be a new dam or two on the horizon.

Carbon capture is…

A myth.

Well I will share why we haven’t jumped in yet. Last time we were possibly ready for a new car it would have meant turning in a car we were upside down on, that had service due, and had reg fees due. We would be spending a lot to give it back and get nothing from that cost. Then the getting the EV. Most here won’t like hearing this, but the 3 rebates (fed, state, and utility) is a pain, have to spend ~ $1500 for the install based on neighbors experience, have to spend $750 or so on a charger, need to pull permits, etc. Then all the range calculations and finding stations and such since we wouldnt be looking at something with like 200 miles. We also are really close to not qualifying for the CA rebate based on income, so we maybe wouldn’t even collect that. We also have a unique situation of a tandem garage so it would require even more car jockeying than we already do to make sure the EV is at the charger. Or installing 2 chargers for added cost. Then in the end even the cheapest EV was going to be $10k… Read more »

It takes about 15 years to get average folks to accept high tech. In my small East Coast hometown, my neighbors drive pickups and SUVs. Just this year, they accepted our 2 Prius as “normal cars,” not just for tree-huggers. Our oldest Prius is 15 years old, and finally a grandma asked my advice on buying such a high-tech car. In another 15 and she will ask about my Tesla. 🙂

I have to question some of the assumptions in this video. Most of it seems to be repeating the old mantra of the auto makers, that there is “no demand” for electric cars, and that all sorts of things need to happen in the future before there ever can be any. And yet, how many car makers today are producing serious electric cars — not compliance cars, and with 200+ miles range ­— in substantial numbers and having difficulty selling what they’ve produced? Anyone?

The main reason for lack of EV sales is that manufacturers (excluding Tesla) and their dealers are pushing ICVs in preference to EVs. And the reason behind that is the need, as they see it, to sqeeze the last drop from existing stock and plant. And part of their tactics is to denigrate EVs.

Anyone who thinks Petrol is cheap, doesn’t live in the UK/EU.