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.
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.
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…
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.
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.