Vox: “Electric vehicles are gaining momentum, despite Trump”… Because S-curve!

Guest post by David Middleton

From the never-ending font of infotainment, David Roberts of Vox…

Electric vehicles are gaining momentum, despite Trump

Policymakers and analysts are digging into the details of how to get more EVs on the road.

By David Roberts Jun 28, 2018

The transportation sector today emits more carbon than any other sector of the US economy. And it is shaping up to be the next big battle in the long fight to decarbonize.

On one side of that battle: the Trump administration, a few US automakers, and Koch Industries, who would like to stymie or at least delay the electrification of vehicles and continue the use of fossil fuels.

On the other side: California, a coalition of like-minded states, most automakers, a growing roster of utilities, and climate hawks. All of them are eager to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles (EVs), so that the sector can be run on increasingly clean grid power.

Lately, the Trumpian side has had the upper hand. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has signaled that he wants to freeze fuel-economy standards at 2020 levels, while Koch-funded groups are fighting EV incentives and blocking public-transit projects around the country. And low oil prices have kept gas prices down, which means American consumers are once again opting for SUVs and trucks. Cars are practically disappearing from the market; Ford plans to stop selling almost all its cars by 2020.

bloomberg_suvs (1)

But underneath the surface, there is a frenzy of activity on the other side. It’s not just that states are pushing back and beginning to set their own stringent goals (like California’s, to put 5 million EVs on the street by 2030). It’s also that a broader coalition is taking on the real nuts and bolts of electrifying the US fleet, working out the details and best practices that will be necessary to put ambitious plans into motion.



Are EV’s gaining momentum?  Or does Mr. Roberts assume they are gaining momentum because the Peoples Republic of California is gaining momentum in setting goals?  Or, do futurists simply have difficulty conjugating verbs?

Mr. Roberts included a nice Bloomberg chart of SUV’s overtaking boring old cars in US sales.  If the article is about EV’s gaining momentum on the “front end of a steeply rising S-curve”… Why not plot a graph of EV’s gaining momentum relative to SUV’s… or at least gaining momentum relative to the cars that “are practically disappearing from the market”?  Well, the short answer is that EV’s fall about 190,000 monthly units below the bottom of the Bloomberg chart.


Monthly US EV sales from https://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/

Mr. Roberts…

Mr. Data just can’t stop laughing at you.

However, Mr. Roberts does have a point: EV sales are what they are, despite Trump.

Regarding “gaining momentum”…

Definition of gather/gain momentum
: to move faster * The wagon gathered/gained momentum as it rolled down the hill.


I don’t think so…


Linear ≠ Gaining Momentum

Oh… Wait a second, Mr. Roberts also wrote this:

We are on the front end of a steeply rising S-curve, a rate of change not seen in the US transportation sector for decades. The temporary triumphs of the luddites in power should not obscure the fact that the work of making those forecasts real is beginning in earnest.

Are EV’s on the front end of an S-curve?  Or are they on the steeply rising bit of an S-curve?

An S-curve is a logistic function.  If EV sales are “gaining momentum,” they are somewhere between 10% and 50% of their ultimate market penetration.


An S-curve is a logistic function. The peak rate of growth occurs when half of the total is achieved. Peak Oil (AKA the Hubbert equation) is also a logistic function.

If EV sales are following an S-curve and are on the cusp of the “gaining momentum” bit, they have already achieved about 10% of their ultimate market penetration.  With a current market share of 1%, EV sales will max out at about 10% of US auto sales and peak EV sales growth will occur at about 5% market penetration.

Tony Stark Elon Musk and other futurists often claim that EV sales will follow an S-curve.  This leads to the question, “Do they know that an S-curve is a logistic function?”  I’m fairly certain that Tony Stark Elon Musk is aware of this… David Roberts of Vox, on the other hand…

So… Is the “S-curve” meme just a green propaganda tool to explain away the glacially slow pace of EV sales growth?   Or do the S-curve aficionados not understand what a logistic function is?

Here’s the really funny bit:  The longer EV sales plod along at a slow, linear rate of growth, the deeper the ultimate market share will be… if they are truly following an S-curve.


234 thoughts on “Vox: “Electric vehicles are gaining momentum, despite Trump”… Because S-curve!

  1. The armed forces are making increasing use of electric and diesel-electric air and ground vehicles.

    Little, tracked anti-tank, anti-thin-skinned vehicle, anti-air and anti-personnel, diesel-electric robots are big thing right now. Electric drones of course have been a thing for quite some time.

    Anti-tank robots switch to electric mode when sneaking up on enemy armor.

    Even larger electric helicopters, capable of carrying a scout and missiles, are in the offing, thanks to their stealth.

    • I have a rechargeable remote control toy HMMWV with an Airsoft rapid-fire gun on top… looks sort of like a 25 mm Bushmaster. We had an issue with rats in our attic. So I attached a baby monitor camera to the gun and parked the HMMWV in the attic. I figured I could scare the rats off with a few bursts of Airsoft pellets. But the whole time it was up there, I never saw a rat on the monitor. But it was fun driving it around and shooting at nothing using the remote control and the baby monitor.

      So… yes, EV’s do have a purpose.

      The baby monitor was for a litter of puppies we were fostering. I have too many dangerous toys to allow actual children in our house… LOL!

      • Brilliant. Maybe just having it there scared the rats into hiding, if not out of the attic altogether.

        RC isn’t just for toys anymore. The warbots can also operate in autonomous mode, not just under remote control. They promise great increase in firepower and mobility for light infantry, and even a bit of armor protection, at very little cost in strategic transport compared with the Bradley IFVs, Abrams tanks, self-propelled howitzers, etc, of heavy infantry and armored units and formations.

        Ideally the puppies will grow up to be rat-killers.

        • ” The warbots can also operate in autonomous mode, not just under remote control.”
          So, you have a bunch of lethal weapons stomping around a battlefield under no one’s control? Great idea…

          • There is always a soldier in the loop. He or she just doesn’t need manually to operate the vehicle all the time.

            If the bot finds a reinforced tank platoon trying to sneak around the squad’s position, the operator can retake control, or let the bot go ahead and engage.

            We trust autonomous drones to conduct recce missions on their own. Why not ground bots?

            Combat engineer robotic vehicles for obstacle breaching and mine clearance have been around for a long time. Now they’re armed, more dangerous and can use AI, if the operator wants.

            Hybrid electric drive armored vehicles have been around for a long time, but recent advances are making them even more attractive.

            Be sure to mute or lower the volume before playing:


          • LOL!

            US Army robotic vehicle tech is more advanced, and we don’t have men or women in the vehicles, just in the command and control loop.

            Big diff.

          • Think about this… a large part of the cost of our current personnel transports and even mobile weapons is the armor to protect the soldiers inside. And that also has something to do with its size. If it’s not protecting personnel, how big and how armored does it have to be? Take away those two requirements and the $/unit suddenly comes way down. So you can afford to build a whole lot more of them. Then, if you lose one, just unload another off the truck and you’re back in business. ¿Verdad?

          • Shall I respond to you in Spanish?

            There is a big debate going on in armed forces of the world today. Much depends upon how you envision the future of major power conflict.

            The US Army, my service since 1969, is in essence hedging its bets, by fielding a mix of heavy and light brigades, but right now is heavying up just in case we have to go toe to toe with the Rooskies and Chicom hordes.

            The little tracked vehicles which I mentioned give our light forces the ability to upgrade firepower and mobility, and, as noted even a little armored protection, at not much cost in strategic mobility.

            Imagine a light infantry, for example airborne, squad with an anti-tank warbot under its control, plus maybe an anti-personnel and anti-light vehicle .50 cal HMG, v. what the same nine men have at their disposal today, ie what they can carry on their persons.

            Talk about your force multipliers!

          • Except for the egregious 5.56mm M16 rifle, we didn’t have all that bad of a squad or fire team in the Nam. Better of course had we stuck with M14. Some have argued for a return to the blooper, with a super blooper, instead of an underslung, hard to reload grenade launcher.

            M60 had reliability problems, but its final Echo model rocked and rolled.

            LAW can’t really compete with AT-4, let alone the titanium version of Carl Gustav, but was cutting edge in the ’60s. Our, ie my, big drawback in 1969-70 was using a .22 rifle designed for USAF base guards as a main battle rifle, without its ammo being sufficiently tested.

            My dead comrades cry out for Robert Strange McNamara to roast in hell eternally. With his psycho butt buddy LBJ turning slowly on the same spit.

          • Let’s be a bit careful throwing around the word “autonomous”. If there is a person in the loop, the level of autonomy just fell a lot.

          • Not at all. Autonomous is a mode, but human controllers can override at any time.

            That’s how most of our drones work.

          • Just one minor problem with these wonderful “Force Multipliers”, when the enemy breaches your security protocols and takes them over and slaughters all your soldiers.

          • I’m going to guess that they use something a little more robust than C++ or Visual Basic and don’t leave ports open like most IoT devices (really stands for “Idiocy of Things”).

          • The autonomous mode is usually for follow, hover or loiter..not for active engagement. Ground mobility is a challenge, but can be mastered for open terrain.
            These things have been available for golfers for decades: Drone caddies that follow a transmitter in your pocket.

      • Get one Tony Stark’s Elon Musk’s flame throwers for the rats. That’ ll do the trick.

    • Keep telling yourself that, it is funny as h3ll and quite entertaining. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Let us consider your post another way.

      Back over 100 years they developed the first of the modern submarines. They had an electric motor to run underwater (where it wouldn’t burn the crew’s oxygen or fill the boat with fumes) and a conventional (usually diesel) motor so that they could surface and recharge the batteries.

      A ‘Hybrid’ system if you will.

      What did this prove? That ‘electric’ warships were the way of the future? That within 120 years no warship, surface or otherwise, will be using anything BUT electric?

      Your comment is interesting, but it is trivia, not an argument.

          • Not the same.

            Way back int the ’80s, when I was on the Fulda Gap defending Western Europe from the Evil Empire, the Belgians had IFVs with electric drive transmissions.

            The armored vehicle systems differ quite a bit from those of railroad engines.

          • Felix,

            An electric drive transmission, or a diesel-electric or turbine electric powerplant, is a long way from an electric vehicle.

            For a while, my firm owned shipyards building everything from DDGs to CVNs, with nuclear submarines in the mix. Not one could ever be construed as electric drive. I’ve stood in the space where the nuclear reactors would eventually be installed in the George Herbert Walker Bush – not even close to an electric ship.

            As to your earlier claim about helicopters, it has been a really long time since I worked on helos, but the absolute best hovering performance one might ever hope to get is 10 pounds of lift per horsepower (SLSTD – not as good at 4000 feet on a 95 F day), with 7-8 pounds being realized. It is going to take a lot of battery to field any reasonable sized helicopter. A manned, armed scout is going to weigh on the order of a tonne or more.

          • Jim,

            Aircraft carriers aren’t diesel electric. Since Nimitz, and before that Enterprise, they’ve been nuclear.

            I can’t tell you the precise specs, but an electric scout helicopter (OH) with one scout/pilot and two ATGMs today has an empty weight of about half a ton. The man and missile add another 300# or so, depending upon pilot weight.

            This should give you an idea, although the US Army is way beyond this level:


          • While Gators aren’t true carriers, some LHA’s have incorporated hybrid-electric propulsion… Although, I don’t think there are enough LHA’s to make an S-curve.

          • America-class LHAs (2008, et seq) replaced the boilers of the Tarawa-class LHAs and Wasp-class LHDs with gas turbines.

          • Diesel electric has been the norm for railway locomotives almost since diesel or “distillate” was first used. Electric propulsion has significant advantages in power/speed (no transmission), ability to directly drive each axle, control, etc.

            However, electric falls way behind in other areas, particularly fuel weight/volume/energy and refueling time. Because of that, the primary fuel has been diesel or gasoline. This will continue to be the case unless battery or fuel cell technology undergoes a significant revolution.

  2. Until someone devises a useful battery, EVs will be an example of virtue signalling, not transportation.

    • In general, yes, but they already make sense for some uses, such as shopping or commuting short distances, in some areas, such as here in the PNW, where electric power is still relatively cheap, although the windmills are rapidly queering that pitch.

      The extent to which they are economical compared to FF vehicles depends upon the price of fuel.

      • They make sense in such a limited number of applications, those where they can be rapidly charged by coal fired, nuclear or hydroelectric sources. Otherwise they are ineffecient toys that NO BODY WANTS.

        • Sales in 2016 totaled 159,139 vehicles, but half of those were in CA, where zero emission vehicle mandates encourage their purchase, despite present economic disadvantage.

          • I still want to see an honest test of how well an EV will perform under adverse conditions. Say, in Vermont, in January, at night, in a snowstorm, at 20 below zero. Say between Hardwick and Newport.

          • Pulling from memory but several winters back during a long, hard freeze in (I believe) Colorado an EV went 7 miles on a full charge. Batteries do not like the cold.

        • Or that they never take long trips in their econobox anyway.

          Once enough wealthy families buy electric second cars, the price comes down for everyone.

          • The economics of automobiles is quite different than the economics for computers. Bill Gates once quipped:

            If General Motors had kept up with the technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.

            GM came back at him with a long list starting with: If GM developed technology like Microsoft –

            For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day. link

            Computers developed according to Moore’s Law, doubling computing power every eighteen months. Almost nothing else works like that. For some reason (stupidity) the greenies think renewable energy will develop the same way computers did. More likely it will be like Eroom’s Law where each improvement takes longer and costs more.

          • Aviation from 1903 to perhaps 1973 acted a lot like consumer electronics during its growth spurt. But two world wars and the Cold War had a lot to do with that.

          • Thinking of jet engine power advances, maybe I should have extended that period of rapid innovation until 2003. Ditto top speed.

            That’s without subsuming space rockets under “aviation”.

            Haven’t done the math to compare aviation advancement to Moore’s Law, but back of the envelope growth rate looks ball park, if not better.

          • And yet a dreamliner is broadly the same as a Boeing 707 of the 1960s

            Airliner development is very incremental these days. There are no radical breakthroughs.

          • Leo,

            High bypass turbofans were a big deal.

            Airliner engines of today are more than just incremental improvements on those of the 1950s. They are orders of magnitude and worlds apart in every parameter.

            Twin engine airliners, thrust per engine:

            707: 17,500 lbf (78 kN)
            787: 76,000 lbf (340 kN)

            Not to mention fuel efficiency. Dunno about you, but to me, that’s a pretty significant improvement. And 787 is hardly cutting edge.

            As for military advances since 1957, I can’t say because I can’t say.

          • The Boeing-707 was a 4-engine beast. But still, thrust/engine improvement was impressive. Which brings up a point, why doesn’t the Air Force re-engine the B-52s? Can we replace the thrust of all 8 of those old-timey screamers with just 2 high by-pass turbofan engines?

          • Sure, if Congress will appropriate the money. But the rest of the aircraft is so old, it may not be a good idea. And, of course, you’d have to completely redesign the wing.

          • Red,

            Well you might ask.

            It has been discussed at the highest levels and might even happen.

            But for now it’s a complicated algorithm. How much longer do you think we’ll use B-52s? If 30 years, then, yeah, replace all those old engines with half as many modern ones.

            But if ten years, then, no.

          • “…intends to maintain an eight-engine configuration on each B-52…” Setting that limit at this stage I think is a mistake. Notice while the B-52 has 8 engines it has only 4 engine pylons. So whether the thrust at each pylon is provided by two engines or only one matters not, the wing will see the same forces. If the spec had simply confined it to the same number of pylons, I think they would get better results from both a performance and efficiency perspective.

          • Looking at pics, it looks like the latest upgrade of B52s do have a modified version of their original engines — an added outer shroud & I’m guessing an added !st stage, enlarged turbine rotor to act at least as a low-bypass fan. If so, it may not increase the power significantly, but would increase fuel efficiency (and so, range). Should be able to see it here:

          • In the same ways that a Fokker Biplane was an incremental advamce over the Wright Flyer?

            There are many areas where materials, design and peformance have been radically changed between the 707 and the 787, in all the subsystems…

            Hydraulics became fly-by-wire.
            Aluminum gave way to lighter, stronger composites.
            More powerful, quieter and fuel-efficient engines.
            … just to name a few.

          • True. I commented only upon the powerplant improvements.

            What in WWI occurred in ten years, commercial aviation has done in five!

            Or something like that. The point is that early on, it’s easy to make big gains in every parameter. It gets harder later on, but still, progress marches on. On all fronts. Powerplant, airframe, guidance, fuel, you name it.

          • The radical breakthroughs are in silence and fuel economy per passenger mile. In short, lift efficiency.

          • Uh, no. Don’t be fooled by the outward appearance and general layout. First, the engines are on heck of a lot better – and the plane uses 2, rather than 4. The avionics are a darned sight better, as well. Third, having used composites for the fuselage, the 787 can keep the cabin altitude at 6K ft, rather than 8K ft with aluminum airplanes. Having flown 11-hour trips in the best of the “old” jetliners, and the 787, I can tell you the flight was infinitely more pleasant in the 787 – I got off the flight relaxed and awake, instead of dead tired.

            And to compare the 787 to the 707 is just wrong. I spent 42 years in the aerospace industry, and can tell you that the 787 is most assuredly not just an incremental advance on the 707. Nor is it an incremental advance on the 777.

          • Jim,

            I can’t agree more. I compared just the engines because that’s an easy straight across deal.

            But as I think I indicated, airframe, aerodynamics, avionics, you name it, it’s a way different bird.

            I’ve had these differences of opinion with Leo on other threads.

            Because of outward appearances, people underestimate the advances from the 1950s to the 2010s in aviation.

          • Leo, I was thinking the same thing, at least for commercial jets. The 707 is pretty much the start of the plateau — the subsequent improvements aren’t insignificant, but are incremental. An SST would be a bigger jump, but eco-loons & socialists have cried & wrung hands about that in the past (remember the SST was going to destroy the ozone-layer?).

          • There are signs that Moore’s law is ending in computing too.

            Its all about where on the S curve you are. Early technology is massively inefficient, and rapidly gets better as we understand how to make it better, then we start to approach theoretical limits, and it all starts to be diminishing returns.

            Computer chips are now approaching the maximum realistic speeds and packing density of silicon lithography.

            Used to be Id by a new computer every 5 years or so at the same price from my local supplier, and get about 5-10 times performance increase. Last time it was barely double the performance.

          • In 2010 I bought a desktop with a core i3 processor. My last trip to Best Buy I saw they’re still selling machines with i3 processors. How long did the 386 last? Seems it was only available <2 years.

          • Please compare CPU capability from the 1970s with those of the 2010s to get an idea of what is coming in batteries.

          • Except batteries in vehicles have been around over 100 years and with the spurt in interest are already meeting limits, ie explosions and fires.
            The more Energy Density you get the more dangerous they become.

          • Felix

            Please compare CPU capability from the 1970s with those of the 2010s to get an idea of what is coming in batteries.

            Why would you say that?

          • Excellent question commieBob.

            Battery powered boats have been around for over 120 years, we’ve already witnessed “what is coming in batteries”.

            [By 1900, electric-powered pleasure boats outnumbered the combined number of boats powered by steam and explosive engines (as gasoline-powered motors were called). By 1910, the advantages of the range and power of gasoline came to dominate the market and Elco converted to motor boats.]

            CPU capability is a function of both hardware and software, battery capability is a function of hardware alone. Felix should know that.

          • Thomas and Commie,

            I say that because there are great possibilities in battery hardware design.

            While many here don’t think that batteries can improve enough to make a difference, the guy who invented the Li ion battery begs to differ.


            A man I was privileged to know during his Oxford years.

            He, among many other battery experts, remains convinced that great increases in energy and power density are coming.

          • Felix, people have been working on batteries for a very long time. That means the low hanging fruit has been picked. I’ve seen a zillion promising battery chemistries touted and then forgotten.

            My favorite chemistry is aluminum air. It would be a world changer if it weren’t for a couple of pesky details.

          • Red94ViperRT10 – the i3 processor while the same in name is quite different from your 2010 version. If you dig down you will find the nano meter process shrank considerably which allows more cache, higher speeds, and often lower voltages and power consumption. That doesn’t even get into the shift to DDR4 and new instruction sets. While the jump isn’t as big at it used to be, there are still big improvements.

          • I was hoping everyone would overlook that. However, aren’t “…new instruction sets…” just another way of saying software? Or maybe firmware? In other words, couldn’t I take my 2010 i3, apply the new instruction set (on an upgraded motherboard if necessary) and get the same performance? Theoretically, I know pins may not line up or whatever.

          • EV’s are most of the way the economy of scale ramp already.

            As to the family not taking long trips, well the taxes needed to pay for the EV subsidies mean families have less money to spend on themselves.

          • @Felix
            “Or that they never take long trips in their econobox anyway.

            Once enough wealthy families buy electric second cars, the price comes down for everyone.”

            We are a 2-car family, an Acadia and Rav 4. I use the Rav 4 for commuting to work, about 72 miles per day the long way around. Arguably I could switch to an EV and reap the benefits of lower “fuel” costs based on my usage patterns while we keep the Acadia for family trips. I don’t see a first cost advantage to this with prices as they are, even with tax breaks/subsidies. I’m also not so sanguine regarding winter performance, even though NJ is not noted for brutal winter weather.

          • Barely got back and took two hours to recharge afterwards.

            You do realize that a dead car at 20 below zero is a potentially life-threatening situation, right? We always try to have at least half a tank of gas in the winter for that reason.

          • I cannot think of a single reason why an EV would be worth my money, compared to just about any other vehicle. They hold no interest for me. I don’t understand what possible interest they hold for anyone. Here in Alaska, where gasoline is quite expensive, I have yet to see one. Anyone who wants to sink $30k for a vehicle that would not get me to any other location in one charge in this state is just someone I cannot relate to. Maybe it’s different if one lives in California, but then I think I would still prefer a bicycle.

      • I will not even shop an EV until they can guarantee me 450 miles between refueling, and can fully refuel <5 minutes. And I don’t care if I can’t drive that far between potty breaks, refueling requires my time expenditure so the less often I have to do it the better, and you have not made a compelling case for my accepting performance deficits relative to my current vehicle. Felix, I do not have the spare cash to tie up in ANOTHER vehicle that I cannot use except under specific conditions.

        • Have you thought about moving enough electrical energy to power your vehicle 450 miles in 5 minutes? Pretty easy with gasoline. With a charger the wires would have to be as big as the gasoline hose and run some seriously high voltage.

        • I own both an EV and a Ram 3500 diesel pickup. The first out of curiosity and the second for the real thing. The pickup truck adds about 80 miles of range per minute at the pump. The EV adds 0.6 miles of range per minute at the charger in my garage. Even a $100K Tesla will add, at most, 6 miles of range per minute. For that reason, the EVangelist call for more charging stations is b.s.

          • When and if we ever get graphene supercapacitors to work, you’ll be able to recharge your EV more rapidly than filling your pickup tank.

            Or tanks, in the case of my pickup. Big honking old gas tanks.

          • If / when one of those graphene supercapacitors shorts out, there goes the neighborhood (boom).

          • Felix, I like most of your posts but I just don’t get this attachment to EV. The infrastructure to set up wide-scale support for EV would be enormous, and I just don’t see the need for such a project, even if it was possible. The fact is that regardless of what anyone says oil is so plentiful that producing nations have to collude to keep production down to the point where it’s actually worth extracting it. It works, it’s simple, there’s plenty of it. EV applications will happen but will be targeted, until some transformational technological advancement happens. I just finished a long trip through northern Canada where I had to take multiple planes, big and small. The Canadian version of the TSA put every bag I had upside down and inside out hunting for Lithium batteries. They found every single one of them, down to a tiny usb charger. They made me take out my laptop even in the smallest plane, it was such a pain in the neck. Clearly they are worried about Li technology and fires. Right now I wish we were still using old heavy Ni-Cads. Just to say electrical advances are not that obvious when all is said and done. I’m not against advances, just let them happen on their own time.

          • And how, exactly, are you (we) going to supply the huge power demand to charge such a supercapacitor? Say we have a 100 kwhr battery, 400 volts (similar to a Tesla Battery). Such a battery can ideally provide 100,000 watts of power for one hour. To charge at 100 % efficiency in 5 minutes (approximately the time to fill a gas tank), I need to supply 12 times that (1 hr/5 min)…ie 1, 200,000 watts. That’s 1.2 mega watts! At 400 volts that would require 3,000 amps! Superconductors anyone? Aside from everything else, the real and apparently completely ignored infrastructure requirements to support millions of high capacity, fast charging EVs is completely ignored. For good reason…there is no credible solution at hand.

          • You don’t need a battery to charge a supercapacitor. But you could use one. However, it would be far more advanced than a Tesla battery. For instance, an Li-O or SiO battery, akin to MIT’s new design.

    • Here’s a link to a realistic analysis of EV vs ICE. If you don’t have to travel far, EVs aren’t too bad. Once you have to travel a reasonable distance, the required battery pack makes EVs very uncompetitive.

      Much is made of the cheapness of electricity as compared with gasoline. So much of the cost of gas is taxes. Once enough EVs are on the road not paying gasoline taxes, the government will fix that.

      Ignoring taxes, EVs aren’t that much cheaper to fuel.

      • I own an EV and a Ram 3500 diesel truck. Some numbers:

        – EV via the electricity bill: 2.5 cents (U.S.) per mile
        – Gas car without fuel tax: 8.1 cents per mile
        – EV including Washington State’s punitive tax: 6.5 cents per mile
        – Gas car equivalent to the EV including fuel tax: 10 cents per mile
        – Ram 3500 including fuel tax: 24 cents per mile

        The EV tax is 60% of the total fuel cost. The gas car’s fuel tax is 19% of the total fuel cost. The diesel’s fuel tax is 20% of the total fuel cost. If the EV were taxed fairly, the total fuel cost would be 3.125 cents per mile, not 6.5 cents.

    • Tom: For the record I’ve driven an EREV for the last 5 years. I don’t do virtue signalling, I don’t believe that CO2 has much if any effect on climate. I’d never go back to a piston engine: blowing off young punks in hot hatches at the traffic lights in total silence is just too much fun.

      • Yep, no fuss, no muss, no bother. It’s like you shut them down without breaking a sweat. If you don’t squeal the tires, they can’t tell if you left them at full throttle or at quarter throttle. It’s bad enough to get shut down but to get shut down by someone who looks like they weren’t even trying has to be a real downer.

        In the shocked bystander department: Imagine in 1966 that the guy next to you is driving an Oldsmobile Toronado. He smokes away from the light but the smoke is coming from his front wheels.

        • Tach it up, tach it up
          Buddy gonna shut you down

          It happened on the strip where the road is wide
          Two cool shorts standin’ side by side
          Yeah, my fuel injected Stingray and a four-thirteen
          Revvin’ up our engines and it sounds real mean

          Tach it up, tach it up, tach it up
          Buddy gonna shut you down

          h/t The Beach Boys

        • Last time I had a wish to leave people behind at a light was when I was 16. These days however I deeply appreciate a vehicle that will get me through 2000 miles in the Yukon and Alaska in December at -20 and lower, with no cell coverage for the duration. My life depends on my Ram truck, and it hasn’t let me down, because it’s not a toy. That’s the performance that people get when they buy such a vehicle, whether they need it or not, at a good price. I can’t imagine trading that in for an EV under any circumstances. I understand that’s not typical for many in the lower 48s, but it is the standard required for an alternative for me, and I just don’t see that happening in my lifetime.

  3. “most automakers”…is that a fair comparison?
    I thought the government was forcing automakers to make a certain amount…
    …that’s hardly eager

    • If automakers were all-aboard the EV train, what do they need from Trump?

      The shift to SUVs and decline in sedans started long before any scrapping of fuel economy mandates.

      • Unless Trump is talking about outlawing EV’s, the only thing he can do is scale back the incentives.
        So if they are whining about a drop in incentives they are admitting that EV’s can’t survive without government support.

  4. VOX. Among the biggest hacks in media. They rank right there with the Huffington Post, or Progress.org

  5. The darnest thing about the EV people is that many of these people oppose nuclear power. They must think that the electricity that powers them just magically comes out of a wall socket. I will buy one (EV) when they are cheaper to own, operate and convenient as the gasoline-powered one I now own.

    • Almost two decades ago I couldn’t convince an EV advocate that all they do is concentrate pollution in one place to make it easier to control, as a point source than millions of dispersed sources.

      Now apparently they imagine that hundreds of millions of vehicles can run on solar and wind power.

    • “They must think that the…..massive amounts of additional……. electricity that powers them”

    • For a lot of people, science start at the wall socket. This is a reality. How that electricity gets into the wire is a mystery to most. Let’s not be too demanding. If someone is science-illiterate, don’t expect them to understand when and how they are being misled. When the lights are no longer on, they will pay attention. A lot of people only learn the hard way. Guess how many gas-and diesel-powered generators there are in Beiruit? That is how the ordinary population responds to a crisis.

    • You probably won’t ever buy one. If you’re financially wise, you’ll probably end up paying for transportation-as-a-service provided by computer-driven cars within the next 20 years.

      P.S. And that development will greatly promote battery electric vehicles.

      • So, let me get this right:

        1. We’re all going to get rid of our cars.
        2. We’re all going to rent a car when we need one.
        3. This is going to save us money.

        When we’ve all got rid of our cars and the car rental companies know we have no choice but to rent from them, what possible reason will they have not to jack up their rental prices?

        • 1. We’re all going to get rid of our cars. –> The vast majority of people around the world will. I expect the majority to do so with 20-30 years, and the “vast majorty” (say more than 80%) in 30-40 years.

          2. We’re all going to rent a car when we need one.–> It depends. Would you say you “rent” an airline seat when you pay for a ticket to fly some place? Or would you say you “rent” an Uber or Lyft car when you ride in them? If you wouldn’t call those “renting” then, no, you will not rent a car.

          3. This is going to save us money. –> Yes, it will. The reasons are numerous, but they include:
          a) Most of the time the car you own is sitting. Very few people drive more than even 1-2 hours per day. An autonomous vehicle will be on the road 8-12+ hours per day.
          b) Fleet owners (of electric vehicles) will own thousands of electric vehicles. Therefore, they’ll be able to negotiate deals to buy and sell electricity from electric utilities at much more favorable terms than an individual can.
          c) Fleet owners will be able to see when multiple passengers have almost the same origination and destination, and be able to offer a much lower fare if two or more passengers ride together.
          d) Fleet owners will be able to match cars to the exact need of the moment. For example, I own a 4-door Camry because I occasionally have 1-3 passengers. With transportation as a service, a fleet owner could offer a *single seat* car for single- person travels.

          “When we’ve all got rid of our cars and the car rental companies know we have no choice but to rent from them, what possible reason will they have not to jack up their rental prices?”

          Because there aren’t tremendous barriers to entry to the industry. Anyone could borrow or pay a couple hundred grand or a couple million dollars and go into local competition with incumbents.

          • Why will anyone choose to invest all that money to enter the market if they’re not able to make money?

            It’s real simple. Most of the people wanting to travel will want to do so at peak times. Those people won’t want to spend half an hour waiting for a car to turn up when they need to get to work. That means any car rental company will have to buy far more cars to service peak times than they need most of the day, and those cars will spend most of the day sitting around doing nothing. Which means they’ll have to price the peak time travel high enough to pay for all the time the cars are doing nothing.

            Which will mean you’ll end up paying taxi-sized fares any time you want to get anywhere.

            Which you could already do today, by, you know, taking a taxi.

          • Regular production automobiles are made for about 5000 hours of service over their lifetime. Using a car 12+ hours per day means that it will last a year or less without major service. Good luck making that work money-wise on a large scale.
            Everyone always wants to extrapolate short-term changes far into the future, but the reality is that there have not been and will likely not be any changes to the way we live, particularly in the first world. As best as I can tell, nothing much has changed in the last 50 years or more. For example, now that the fad has passed, Uber has only eaten into the business of taxicabs, it has not substantially enhanced ride-sharing. The basics of locomotive transport is baked into the way that people already live. In Europe people already use public transportation to the max, thanks to high-density, city-center living. Most of that transportation is already electric, run at a loss. In the US, suburbs keep expanding, meaning that individuals will keep driving. There is no reason to expect any large-scale changes to any mode of transportation at this time, just an expansion on the margins as population increases and modernization reaches more areas.

  6. Sorry, chid’rens, electric vehicles ain’t gaining sh*t. Unless that electric vehicle has a gas tank, a generator and an efficient battery system NO BODY WANTS IT. I park in “fuel efficient vehicle” parking spaces all the time, because I efficiently pump gas into my vehicle and it efficiently burns that gas to move me around. THAT is what human beings want. Period. Full stop.

    • Smart Fortwo sales have crashed, more because of problems specific to its design, but also IMO because some of the cachet has worn off:


      While overall, sales zoomed upward in 2016, after slight declines in the prior two years:


      Low gas prices can’t help. But they’re edging up again. Might take more than proxy war between Iran and Saudi to get them back to their highs.

      • It’s a crappy tiny car that isn’t nearly as cheap as it looks and didn’t get nearly the gas mileage you’d think such a puny car would get.

        • Right you are.

          You’d have thought that German engineers would have come up with something better.

          I suspect that they saw a market among susceptible American Greenies and pounced on it.

      • IMO the only major difference between a Smart car and a large motorcycle is that when you ride the bike, you get wet when it rains…..but when it comes to accident survival they are likely quite similar! But I don’t know…the bike might be the safer option – the driver and passenger, if any, might be able to roll or jump clear of most of the danger and minimize any injuries. But for the occupants of the Smart car, hopefully someone has a can opener handy!

    • Mr Middlton misses one of the S-Curve secrets, as explained & researched by Harry Dent. Namely, there is equal times for a product to go from market introduction to 10% as 10% to 80% as 80% to 100%.
      First introduced in 1973 and still not to 10%. +45 years wait to get close to the Magical “80”.

      • The electric car was introduced in the 1890s. Almost 130 years and still can’t get to 10%, because all the same drawbacks that moved its sales to Zero in the early 20th century still remain drawbacks. EV sales would remain at 0% if it weren’t for government interference.

        • Lithium-ion batteries have dramatically increased EV range. It’s still not enough, and it’s still too expensive for truly versatile applications at the lowest cost. But today’s EVs are far more capable than EVs built before about 2010.

  7. If EV’s are doing so well, then obviously they no longer need the subsidies and mandates.

  8. Concerning the ownership of cars in general, I do not care if they are powered by electricity, gasoline, steam, hydrogen, diesel fuel, natural gas, fuel-cell hydrogen, propane, wood gas,…. as long as the buyers/users do not take my (taxpayer’s) money to purchase them and then, on top of it, avoid paying “fuel” taxes while driving on roads built by those very taxes. All cars are essentially the same aside from the engine type – seats, bodies, brakes, windows, paint, steering, wheels, axles, suspension, upholstery, ….
    So why do people who may never look under the hood now pocket $10,000 of my tax money just because an electrical motor is there when most everything else is as with any other car type?

    • I’m sure that governments will find some way to tax EVs.

      Purely on energy and weight considerations, batteries can be made competitive with gasoline engines, once design hurdles are overcome.

      The economics of course are muddied by government intervention in the market, both with subsidies and taxes.

      I’m glad the air has more plant food in it, but there are so many other things to do with such a rich mix of organic compounds as petroleum that it seems unwise to burn it, unless it be in unlimited supply at affordable prices, which doesn’t seem to be the case.

      • I’m reminded of a cartoon I read a long time back.
        A couple of guys in lab coats are in front of a blackboard covered with equations.
        The first guy points to the blackboard and says to the second. I think this portion still needs work.
        The portion of the blackboard being pointed to say: And then a miracle occurs.

        I think of that cartoon every time somebody proclaims how great batteries are going to be: As soon as we get a couple of problems fixed.

        • Pretty sure that most people here have seen that cartoon.

          1) Batteries have progressed in the past century more than you might suspect.

          2) Improving batteries is simply a matter of chemical, and in some cases engineering. Fusion is now a matter of materials science.

          Please review recent breakthroughs in Li and Si batteries. Li, obviously, promises more energy density, but at risk of fires, except maybe for the MIT design. Si is a little less potent, but totally safe.

          It’s an exciting time in batteries, as in so many other technologies. The companies and individuals investing in these approaches aren’t idiots. Nor are they all subsidy farmers.

          The history of science and technology is decorated with optimists who dared to do what conventional wisdom said couldn’t be done.

          • That would be exciting. But no.

            I specifically mentioned Si-O because it doesn’t have that problem.

            Nor I suspect does the great new MIT design for Li.

          • “It’s an exciting time in batteries.” for my cellphone. For a mode of transportation, not so much. There are still too many drawbacks that have not been solved, and even an “…exciting…batter[y]…” has not even begun to make a dent in those drawbacks.

          • And yet despite just being a matter of chemicals and engineering, the subsidy miners with any technical acumen at all have already written off battery powered ships in favour of hydrogen fueled ships in the decarbonized dreamworld of the future. They do so because quite simple calculations demonstrate that a battery powered ship will be so full of batteries and their supporting equipment that there won’t be room left aboard for cargo – the only battery powered ships on the horizon are ferries which take five minutes to cross a fjord and then can be plugged into the grid for the ten to fifteen minutes it takes to unload cars travelling in one direction and reload with cars travelling in the opposite direction.
            There is a possible application for battery powered thrusters to manoeuvre smaller cargo ships around harbours in virtue signalling ‘carbon neutral’ states, but then if your ship already runs on ‘clean’ hydrogen fuel, the battery is a waste of space and displacement anyway.
            The history of science and technology is littered with optimists who dreamed of doing what thermodynamics or physics says can’t be done.

          • Unless someone has invented a new element, there isn’t as much new under the sun as you believe.

            Without the subsidies, none of these researchers would operating in this field.

    • Jake, you left out nuclear.
      (Guess the insurance rate hike after a fender is what really killed it.8- )

      PS Remember what is powering Curiosity on Mars.
      What is economical for the military or space exploration (that is, “worthy it”) to achieve their HEAVILY (entirely?) subsidized goals is not the same as what is “worth it” to the everyday consumer.

  9. “. . . so that the sector can be run on increasingly clean grid power.”

    That says it all.

    • indeed, and in locations where ‘clean grid power’ makes more than a trivial contribution to the locally installed generation capacity, it already can’t be relied on to keep the lights on without an extension cord to the neighbour’s coal fired reliable grid power. How the devil is ‘clean grid power’ going to keep all those oversized dodgems running in addition to keeping the lights on in the ecotard’s eutopia?
      …Ah, that’s right, because I’ll be taxed even more to fund ‘doubling down on stupid’ energy policy. Silly me to forget.

  10. EVs will become widespread only when they offer the same capabilities as today’s gas vehicles at the same costs, not because the government tries to entice/force us to buy them. Given as many times as my wife forgets to charge her cellphone and it dies on her away from home, I’d like to see how an EV is going to handle that case given my wife.

    • While your point might be valid given the nature of humanity, it is a little different with a vehicle which you park in your garage or on the carport, rather than continuing to use all the time.

      And the future promises wireless charging.

      • Please do a little research.
        Over the air charging features two things.
        Very low power density.
        Almost unmeasurably low efficiencies.

          • Red,

            With solar cells on your roof, you can “refuel” while you drive, on a sunny day.

            With IR PV cells, you can even do it at night, although maybe the roof then isn’t the best spot.

          • How much roof does my car have? Can it capture as much energy as I expend, even if it’s cloudy? Can you show me those calculations? IR PV… you lost me there. Another Greenie wet dream? Can you show me such a product available on the market today? But again, 5 minutes to full refuel. Same as I have right now. That’s all I ask.

          • I asked for a product available for purchase today. You link me to a research paper. FAIL!!!

          • What about all the cars that do not have garages, car ports or drives?
            There are a lot more of those than those that do.

          • People who live in apartments quite often don’t have garages and even if they have covered parking, there generally aren’t outlets.

          • Even if there are outlets, you have to make sure that only the tenants are drawing power from them.

          • Felix obviously you have no understanding of power density. Your statements are getting more fanciful the longer this goes on. 60 square feet of solar cell (I am being really generous) recharging a car as it drives down the road. All I can say is give your head a shake and make it a good one. Best laugh I’ve had in weeks.

          • The extra weight and aerodynamic drag of the cells will consume much more energy than those cells could hope to produce even at the best of times.

            Worse, the drag and weight still exist at night and when it’s raining.

  11. Count me in the laggard group. Since I am fortunate enough to have a 0mi. round trip commute ea. day … yes self employment and a home office is ‘greener’ than the most smug eco-virtue signaling Tesla commuter … I have no need to ditch my fabulous BMW 335i which emits virtually ZERO pollution, yet thanks to its twin turbos … allows me to SELF drive in quite a thrilling manner while enjoying a range of almost 400mi. per tank of gasoline. And then, inside of 5min. I am refueled ready to travel another uninterrupted 400mi.

    Yeah, I will be a laggard at the bottom edge of the reverse ‘S’ curve … I’ve driven many an electric golf cart … meh … I actually prefer to walk the course and carry my own bag.

    • My Daily Driver is a 535 xi Touring Wagon with the Ninan Stage 2.
      HP goes from 300 to 375 and Torque from 300 to 415–that straight six with the two turbos is an outstanding engine.
      Cruising at 60 mph gives 36 mpg (Imperial).
      On long trips, it can go 500 miles on a tank.
      O to 60 in 5 seconds.

  12. Its all just ‘marketing bollox’.

    EVs work well enough to be OK for some niche applications,. especially in urban spaces. They are being massively subsidised and fuelled cars being taxed to hell in Europe to make them appear economically attractive.

    My guess is that now the main manufacturers are on board its just another excuse to trash old cars and sell new ones

    Selling new cars is so…energy intensive…isn’t it?

    But oh so green….if they are BEVS!!!!

    My rough back of the envelope calculations suggest that it takes more fossil fuel to build a BEV Or any other vehicle) than a fuel car will burn in it its whole lifetime.

    So what we should be doing is running old cars as long as possible

    Not buying new ones.

    • The “main manufacturers” are actually getting out of “cars” as much as possible and into “SUVs”, which are built on pickup frames and have a much higher profit margin.

      I wish that the government would exit the picture entirely, but that hasn’t been the model for decades. With so many jobs on the line, the feds are always bailing out or subsidizing this, that or the other automotive enterprise.

      IMO the proper role of the government is to develop new technology for its military or space applications, then let private enterprise run with them.

      • I have thought for many years that the rise of the “crossover” vehicle has been entirely driven by CAFE standards. The family sedan and even station wagon are heavily regulated by CAFE standards, the “crossovers” and pickup trucks (and sports cars like Corvettes, Vipers and Mustangs) are “specialized” vehicles excluded from CAFE standards. In other words, Ford has announced they will manufacture NO vehicle restricted/regulated by the CAFE standards. And good on them, they can probably reduce their staff of engineers by 50% just because they don’t have to calculate any more mythical mileage figures. And I’m putting this on the Peanut Gallery, if I’m wrong you show me how and where, by citing chapter and verse of the laws and regulations.

        • Red,

          The real advances in battery tech are being driven not by government regs, subsidies or taxes, but by the world’s best physicists and chemists working on a problem that challenges them.

          Which is why it will be solved.

          • If they’re doing such a bang up job then we can eliminate all subsidies and mandates. Right? (Since one word of Spanish triggers you. Apparently.)

        • Ford really makes me angry. I used to own nothing but Fords, then they bought the coolaid and went small and cheap across the entire fleet, because they wanted to maximize the government handouts. I was forced to abandon them, and honestly I found that there are plenty of better vehicles out there. I don’t see myself going back. Now they want out of small and cheap altogether, because the government stopped paying for their crappy, dangerous small and light vehicles. Neither of those actions had the customer in mind from what I can tell. It’s hard for me not to feel they just take the customer for granted.

        • Don’t need to, as my SUV isn’t.

          But they still command a higher profit margin than “cars”.

  13. “We’re going to die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy. “
    Sounds like living in LA.

  14. Damn those uppity consumers, exercising their free-will to buy the cars that they want, rather than the ones that the elites tell them to.

  15. Dave – EV growth at this point in the US is partly to do with the majors dragging their feet, and partly due to the supply of cells. Even if they wanted to, none of the majors are in a position to scale because they haven’t invested in cell capacity. Here is a graph of Tesla Model 3 growth rate against other saloon cars/sedans in a similar price range (recall that all the Model 3’s sold to date are loaded versions).
    Tesla can do this because in 2014 they broke ground (in conjunction with Panasonic) on a gigafactory with a projected output which was at the time the equivalent of rest-of-the-world output of lithium ion cells.

    Fort the record I’ve driven an EREV for the last 5 years. I don’t do virtue signalling, I don’t believe that CO2 has much if any effect on climate. I’d never go back to a piston engine: blowing off young punks in hot hatches at the traffic lights in total silence is just too much fun. My next car will be a pure BEV

    • When starting from 0, high rates of growth are easy. It would be almost impossible for the Model 3 sales rate to fall at this point in its construction run.

      Try plotting numbers of vehicles sold. People aren’t switching from cars to EV’s. They’re switching from cars to SUV’s & pickup trucks.

      • Dave “They’re switching from cars to SUV’s & pickup trucks…” yes that is happening too, and if they survive, Tesla will get to that market too. The point of the graph is not the growth rate but the absolute numbers in May compared with Merc, BMW etc. In that market niche they outsold the rest

      • “People aren’t switching from cars to EV’s. They’re switching from cars to SUV’s & pickup trucks.”

        Yes, “people”…if the rest of the world isn’t included in the definition of “people.”

    • When I see someone complaining that companies are deliberately passing up a chance to make money, I know I have come across someone who cares more about advocacy than reality.

    • “For the record I’ve driven an EREV for the last 5 years.”

      Extended range EVs are where the market for EVs will go once Toyota’s $1.6 billion factory to make them (with a tiny rotary engine to top up the battery) in Alabama is complete. They won’t need a supercharger network, and Tesla’s reliance on such an expensive item will not provide it with a moat, but with a millstone around its neck.

  16. Nothing wrong with electric vehicle, what is wrong are the claims that EV’s use no fossil fuel and therefore attract subsidies from the tax payer.

    Well all that EV’s will do in most countries will move the fossil fuel usage from the exhaust pipe to the thermal power station and in terms of actual energy used, the consumption is greater than claimed because of losses of electricity incurred during reticulation from the power source.

    Of course we all know this, but how come bureaucracy seem to ignore it?




    • That is a fair point Roger but if we are going to do the comparison fairly you should include the energy used to extract refine and distribute petrol/diesel/fuel/gas. I once calculated that I can drive my car about 14 miles on the energy used to extract refine and distribute enough petrol to drive 17 miles. Conventional cars have a long and a short tailpipe

      • A thermal power plant doesn’t run on unrefined crude oil either. What’s good for the goose etc.…

  17. hmm the Tesla in a tent setup doesnt seem to be producing many;-)
    the momentum of a selfdrive -aka selfimmolation device- Tesla into a barrier or parked vehicle however seems to be increasing.
    tell me again how ecofriendly mining n processing let alone disposal of RE minerals is?

  18. I won’t buy an EV any time soon because they’re not economically viable……..but we’re coming up on a new vehicle purchase time and I am leaning towards a highlander hybrid because it will get ~30mpg in the city and it’s my wife’s car and she does a lot of stop and go commuting. It will make back the price increase in gas savings over a few years.

    • Do the math on how many years it will actually take to make up the price markup based on gasoline savings. You will find, like I did, that unless gas prices doubles, you won’t break even for at least 7-8 years. There is no real advantage to hybrid if all the costs are factored in.

    • My favorite car. Although it said 425 Hp on the spec sheet the NHRA reclassed it as 575Hp because it was way too fast for the published figure to be correct. It is an awful amount of power for a 2100 lb vehicle. It was said that the Cobra was good but not the best handling in the turns but when it hit the straightaway it accelerated like a camera shy UFO.

      • The 1965 Shelby Cobra will leave the 2008 Tesla Roadster in the dust on a drag strip
        1/4 mile time:
        Cobra 12.5 sec.
        Tesla 13.4 sec.

        • I love the Cobra’s as much as any gear head but comparing a fully loaded Tesla to a stripped down Cobra (there isn’t any other kind) on the drag strip is an apples to oranges comparison. Strip all the creature comforts out of that Tesla then drag them together down the strip and see what happens. I suspect that a person can pull enough weight out to handily beat a Cobra due to the power advantages electric motors have off the line.

  19. It could be that some big investors, heavily exposed in EV stocks, are looking to offload and these characters are rather desperately talking the market up on their behalf.

    • Fiona – reverse is true – Tesla stock is heavily shorted to the tune of multiple billion. There is huge financial pressure to talk the stock down

      • But there’s also big financial pressure on Musk / Tesla to talk the stock up, so Moody’s won’t downgrade it, or so the effect of a downgrade will be cushioned, and so none of the five big institutional investors will start to divest, and so an equity raise can be offered at a high price.

        Until recently, when Tesla’s problems became glaring, there was virtually no down-talking of Tesla in the mass media—it was all positive.

  20. People used to buy cars back when there were options to buy big, roomy cars that were solidly built and offered good protection in a crash.

    Those cars don’t exist any more. Modern cars are small, with little legroom or storage, built of light materials that crush easily.

    People buy SUVs and light trucks now because that’s the only choice when it comes to roomy, solidly built vehicles with plenty of storage space.

    I sure as heck wouldn’t want to go on a week long road trip in an Accord or a Focus.

      • Your point…? What we’re really talking about is what people want to buy. So when it comes down to purchase time, “…because I want one…” is all that should ever be on a person’s mind.

  21. At articles like these, I end up asking why it is so intrinsically essential that electrics replace something that is already working. And then I go feed the dog.

  22. I’m reminded here of reality in which I recently heard all the hype and desire for a Tesla car from a hard working millennial. But instead he bought a used crown vic because it was very affordable and had a nice ride quality as a bonus. Somehow I don’t think over priced, less practical rides will fit in with over priced housing, services, insurance, taxes, savings needs, and heavily over priced education and training/certification requirements. Unless you can get gang members to forgo Benz for EVs, the market will be limited to multimillionaires and select deluded types that trade in their Prius.

  23. We know from the fires in Sonoma that California doesn’t exactly have a modern electric grid system. Maybe re-building after a few more fires might help, though my guess is they will rebuild just what they had with not modernization. Each time I think of EVs in California I see in my mind a view of a major expressway during rush hour.

    So places like California and NY are grand experiments which is actually how our founding father designed our system of government. My problem has always been who picks up the pieces when their idiocies fail. Could California afford their view of the world if say Silicon Valley was in some other state or for that matter their old oil industry had never developed. Just consider the next great quake. California will expect the rest of us to come to their aid and bail them out because they will has spent all their money trying to “feel good.”

  24. Elon Musk mentioned the S curve as an appropriate description of the rate of PRODUCTION as an assmbly line starts running. It had nothing to do with sales. With al of its problems and flubs, Tesla’s Model 3 production chart looks nothing like an S curve.

  25. The claim that Trump is doing anything to stymie EV development is total nonsense – he did NOT attempt to cut out the govt welfare tax credit of $7500 for each electric car. And removing MPG requirements for a distant future will have exactly zero effect on EV sales. Dave Roberts is not very well informed about the state of EV development, so we need to tell this jerk that every automaker on the planet has multiple,even dozens, of EV models in development. Probably over 120 EV models will hit the showrooms over the next three years. Some automakers have plans to build only electric cars after 2019. What Roberts fails to do is to acknowledge the positive effects on EV sales as a result of govt subsidies. Not only do the Feds give an EV buyer a $7500 tax credit,but many states do so also and few are charging EV owners for road taxes, EV owners today are welfare queens who don’t even pay for highway maintenance. Let’s take away all those
    subsidies and see what the effect on EV sales will be. Roberts has put forth a really ignorant argument.

          • >>
            Commies in Olympia . . . .

            Which is why I usually refer to our illustrious state as: “The People’s Republic of Washington State.”


          • Full name: The Dumpocrap People’s Socialist Workers’ Paradise of White Man Occupied Cascadia.

        • The state charges a $150 annual tax on EVs, supposedly to replace lost gas taxes.

          The average EV is driven 9,000 miles a year and gets ~100 mpg-e. In gas terms, that would be 90 gallons a year. The state collects 49.4 cents/gallon in tax, which would be $44.46 on a car that gets 100 mpg. Even if we include the 18.4 federal gas tax (even though the state doesn’t send the feds any of the EV tax money), it would still be only $61.

          So yes, it’s a punitive tax on EVs. Kind of funny, because the “progressives” who run this state are constantly bleating about eco-stuff. But they’re Democrats, so their lust for more taxes always takes precedence.

          • “The state collects 49.4 cents/gallon in tax, which would be $44.46 on a car that gets 100 mpg. … So yes, it’s a punitive tax on EVs.”

            But if the gas car gets a realistic 25 mpg, one-quarter as good as 100 mpg, it would pay 4 x $61 = $244 for driving those same 9000 miles, $84 more than what the EV pays for using the same amount of roadway. It seems to me the EV is getting a cut-rate for is road usage.

          • Gas taxes are calibrated to fuel economy, but now the “environmentalists” of WA State are penalizing EVs because their equivalent gas mileage is too high. Bunch of phonies.

    • “Let’s take away all those subsidies and see what the effect on EV sales will be.”

      In a few countries—I forget their names, or am unsure about them—where subsidies have been cut, sales have fallen sharply. Sales in Norway are high because of high subsidies and other perks that accrue to EVs.

  26. I haven’t seen anyone bring up the fact that California mandates up to 13% of car sales to be ev/hybrid cars…

  27. Maybe David Roberts could comment how much money the federal and state California governments have given Mr. Musk? Why do people that can afford an $85k car need a subsidy? The other problem I have with EV makers is the fact that they drink the coolaid so hard they go 100% electric when a hybrid would increase their market access 20X.
    The only one I would even consider buying is the Arcimoto.

  28. One development that might make fully electric cars more appealing to the general public would be if all the car makers agreed to design a single, completely uniform battery that can be removed in a minute or less and replaced with a fully charged one. Replacement could be done at roadside facilities (e.g. existing filling stations) which had the capability of charging multiple batteries, and had an inventory of the uniform batteries on charge and fully charged waiting to go.*

    Worry about degraded capacity of an older battery could be alleviated by the users paying only for the kWh that the battery they just had put in could deliver, minus the kWh still in the battery that came out of their vehicle. Modern technology can make very good estimates of those parameters. Just as they pay for the amount of fuel they buy now at a conventional filling station.

    Standardization of batteries across the entire fleet of vehicles ought to result in cost savings, Big cars and delivery trucks etc. could have two batteries.

    Not a perfect system, but a way of making long trips and continuous vehicle use actually feasible with EVs. And it would not have to preclude vehicle owners charging their own vehicles.

    I would never have a fully electric vehicle. Driving across northern Canada where gas stations are widely dispersed (and if you get to one in the middle of the night, it probably won’t be open) can be hazardous. The jerry can in the back of my truck has saved my bacon a few times. I might consider a hybrid though if they made them rugged enough.

    * – ideally, the battery station would have a big diesel gen-set out the back for when the wind stops blowing and the grid goes down. Fossil fuel to the rescue.

    • First off, do you have any idea how much a machine that could swap out a 1/2 ton battery pack in just a few minutes will cost?
      Secondly, if you can figure out a way people are going to swap out $20K battery packs and not have to worry if the one they just dropped off is brand new vs on it’s last recharge, I’d love to hear it.
      The cost of the battery is what is in it, not what it’s shape is.
      People are going to buy 2 $20K battery packs, plus the $100K machine that swaps out battery packs?

  29. In a prior discussion about EVs, I defended them on grounds of energy efficiency: the typical gas-powered car uses 22% of the energy of gasoline, while the U.S. electricity generation network uses 47% of the energy of its inputs. On that basis, we should encourage EVs, including with subsidies, I argued.

    Well, my knee doesn’t jerk and I drink no one’s Kool-Aid. I always keep researching. And there has been a change. It’s recent, but carries big implications for the opinion I had stated before. Toyota has come out with a “Dynamic Force” engine that uses 40%-41% of gasoline’s energy. Mazda is getting ready to put the second generation of its Sky Activ engines (Sky Activ-X) into cars, and it will use 44% of gasoline’s energy. It has announced a project for a Sky Activ 3 engine that will use 56% of gasoline’s energy.

    These developments are brand new (the current Sky Activ uses 27%) and are not in Toyota or Mazda cars yet, so they can be taken with a grain of salt — especially “Sky Activ 3.” That said, the Japanese do have a track record of delivering on their announcements. Engines in the 40% and above category constitute a genuine challenge to EVs’ superior thermal efficiency. Also: I independently researched the question of CO2 emissions and EVs. I don’t regard CO2 as a threat or a pollutant, but I did the work anyway. If the entire U.S. automobile fleet was fully electrified, CO2 emissions would drop by 3%. Meh.

    If the Toyota and Mazda engines go into cars, and if they spread (through licensing?) to other engine makers and become standard, the case for subsidizing EVs gets much weaker. The only remaining pro-subsidy argument that I can see would be geopolitical, i.e. the fact that petroleum comes from some of the world’s most dangerous places, as opposed to coal and natural gas (not sure about uranium, which is more complicated given that fuel can be reprocessed), which are abundant in North America.

    The above said, I think EVs are here to stay nonetheless. The manufacturing cost curve, plus future developments in the composition of batteries, will make subsidies a non-issue in the fairly near future. Other performance characteristics of EVs will make them desirable for many customers. They won’t do a damn thing to save the earth, not the least reason being that it needs no saving, but I do think EVs will be around, and that their market share will grow.

    • We are at the point with both fusion and batteries that solutions come down to materials science. The rewards are so fantastic that solutions will be found.

      I feel confident of that, both because of the physics and chemistry involved, and also the titanic riches to be gained by the problem solvers, and benefits to humanity.

      It’s only a matter of when, not if.

      Those here who pooh-pooh human ingenuity should know better.

      • If EVs were so great, you wouldn’t be going on and on about “how great” they are or are going to be in the future. We’re talking about cars and motor vehicles, this isn’t a hard topic.

        When the Ford Mustang made its debut in 1964, they flew off the dealer lots. Same thing happened when the Datsun 240z arrived in this country. Repeat performance when the Honda Accord arrived.

        People don’t need to be told what car is great and what car they want. The fact that EVs and Renewable Energy need endless subsidies, incentives and government intervention to stay afloat is the definition of products that suck.

        Humanity has benefited tremendously from the gasoline powered motor vehicle. Few things invented by human beings have done more for the advancement of humanity. Humanity has benefited even more from fossil fuel burning power plants–without them the modern world would simply not exist.

        None of your future batteries that are never going to be invented will benefit humanity 1/1000th as much as current technology. The world doesn’t NEED your humanity benefiting EVs and magical batteries.

          • Yeah, but nobody even wants Electric Vehicles. At least by any capitalist definition of desire. If three people in Des Moines want cast iron airplanes, and somebody makes them with a 100 Billion Dollar government grant, this doesn’t change the fact that essentially nobody wants cast iron airplanes.

      • Ah, fusion. That’s been 20 to 40 years away ever since I started reading about it in the 1970s. Wake me up when we’re there. Thanks.

    • End all subsidies and mandates today, then, and see what happens. Cuz gang green has been telling us for 30 years that “…future developments in batteries…in the near future…” and it still hasn’t happened. It’s time to put up or shut up, in other words.

      • I’d be okay with ending the EV subsidies in return for a requirement that all new gasoline engines convert at 40% or higher. This isn’t a CO2 issue to me, but an energy conservation issue.

  30. It’s also that a broader coalition is taking on the real nuts and bolts of electrifying the US fleet, working out the details and best practices that will be necessary to put ambitious plans into motion.

    EV advocates have it half right about the superiority of electric drive: the half that starts with the motor. The advantages of electric drive systems have been well established and appreciated for decades. Electric drive locomotives dominate heavy rail; electric motors power cruise and container ships. AC induction motors have one moving part and only two friction points needing lubrication and sealing. Electric cars don’t need a cooling system, an exhaust system, a fuel system or a transmission. All-wheel drive EVs can synchronize front and rear motors electronically, rather than needing a transfer case and drive shaft.

    But to get all these advantages you have to supply that motor with electric power, and this is where current EVs all fail. Locomotives and ships do it with large diesel generators, which works rather well as long as your goal is efficiency rather than elimination of fossil fuels.

    EV advocates assume there is an imminent breakthrough in battery technology that will overcome the current limitations on cost, capacity and recharge. No one can predict or assume breakthroughs, so they may be right. But even if all the issues with batteries were solved, that would simply uncover the next problem with EVs: the charging infrastructure.

    Most US local delivery grids don’t have the capacity to supply their current residential neighborhoods if each house had ~1.5 EVs in daily use. For neighborhoods dominated by multi-family housing (apartments and condos) the demand would be much higher and everyone would have to share a limited number of charging stalls. Substantial residential EV charging will require capacity upgrades to the residential loops and everything upstream. Not impossible of course; the widespread adoption of air-conditioning had the same effect in the 1960s.

    Supercharging stations? Take a look around and estimate the number of fuel pumps in the metro region where you live. It typically takes less than 5 minutes to fill a passenger vehicle fuel tank. If a supercharging station can get you 80% charge in 30 minutes, a metro area would need roughly 4-6 times as many charging hookups as it currently has fuel pumps. Wikipedia:

    As of November 2017, Tesla operates 7,320 superchargers in 1,063 stations worldwide;[1] these included 443 stations in the U.S., 31 in Canada, 6 in Mexico, 353 in Europe, and 230 in the Asia/Pacific region.

    [emphasis mine]

    There are probably more gas stations with more pumps in the metro Atlanta area alone than Tesla charging stations worldwide.

    Then of course there is the problem of how to supply all those supercharging stations with sufficient power to meet the demand, especially as the same groups pushing EVs are also demanding changes to power generation that will both reduce the supply and raise the cost.

    For these reasons I don’t think better batteries are the answer. IMHO the breakthrough we need, and should be working for, is liquid fuel cells. If we have a “broader coalition” busy “taking on the real nuts and bolts of electrifying the US fleet”, I suggest they focus on that.

    A practical liquid fuel cell sufficient to supply a 150-200 HP motor would make EVs a reality rather quickly. The adoption curve really would be a hockey stick.

  31. Electric vehicles are gaining momentum, despite Trump

    They always start the fake-news right off the bat in the titles. How could Trump stop anyone from buying electric vehicles?

    Rhetorical question of course…..

  32. The initial move to SUV’s was caused by auto fuel regulations which manufacturers could not meet with large cars and station wagons. They met the regulations by dropping the wagons and steeply increasing prices on large cars. Instead they built substitutes based on truck chassis which weren’t subject to the same severe fuel restrictions. Unintended consequences.

  33. It’s easy to make fun of David Roberts. I’ve done it myself on several occasions. But here I think is a fairly realistic look at the history of electric vehicle (EV) production and the likely future production:

    1) The worldwide number of EVs on the road increased from 110,000 in 2012 to 1,900,000 in 2017. That’s a factor of 19 increase in five years. (It’s much more appropriate to look worldwide than to pretend the U.S. somehow the only important country when it comes to automobiles.)


    2) What is the future of EVs? Well, a good place to start to answer that question would be to ask the automakers. They’re the ones who will be making the vehicles after all!

    a) HONDA
    https://de.reuters.com/article/honda-strategy/honda-to-focus-on-self-driving-cars-robotics-evs-through-2030-idUKL8N1J42GB –> Honda

    Honda established a division late last year to develop electric vehicles (EVs) as part of its long-held goal for lower-emission gasoline hybrids, plug-in hybrids, EVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) to account for two-thirds of its line-up by 2030, from about 5 percent now.

    b) VOLVO

    Last year, Volvo announced that it was going “all electric“ by 2019, but it was actually only adding electric motors to each model.
    Now, the company is clarifying its electrification plans with an announcement that they aim for 50% of sales to be ‘fully electric’ by 2025.


    “General Motors believes the future is all-electric,” says Mark Reuss, the company’s head of product. “We are far along in our plan to lead the way to that future world.”

    Reuss did not give a date for the death knell of the GM gas- or diesel-powered car, saying the transition will happen at different speeds in different markets and regions. The new all-electric models will be a mix of battery electric cars and fuel cell-powered vehicles.

    I think Mark Reuss’s statement should be given particular weight. He’s the head of product for GM, and he unequivocally states that his company believes the future is all-electric.

    We’ll see…but I think anyone betting against electric a decade or two from now is going to lose, big-time.

    • I think electrification will spread, but that anyone who thinks gas cars will be overtaken in a decade or two is going to lose.

    • Hard to say now much of manufacturers’ interest depends upon continued subsidies.

      EVs will become common when and if electric tech improves, for batteries or some other system such as graphene superconductors.

      Consumer economics, physics and chemistry will ultimately decide. Not governments.

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